If you are new to saving money and cutting expenses, you may search the internet where you will find such tips as “Skip your daily coffee fix” and “Buy store brand foods instead of name brand foods.” While this advice is good, it only offers a superficial way to cut expenses. You may need to look beyond this generic advice to find other ways to trim costs. My family is in this situation currently; our income does not add up to the equivalent of our expenses. Not only are we making less than we spend, we are not able to add to our savings. This situation is temporary, until my husband finishes his post-doc, but obviously it is not sustainable for the two years he will be in a post-doc position. Here are some of the extra ways we have found to trim our budget:
-Stop writing checks. We have automated our bill paying online. At first I was resistant to do this, but when I added up how much I was spending on checks ($38.12 for a year’s worth) and stamps ($52.80 a year) for a total of $90.92, I decided to do it. I can’t eliminate all check usage, but automating our bills has reduced our check usage by 3/4s, which will save because I won’t have to buy checks as frequently.
-Cancel automatic payments for services you no longer use. One downside of automating payments online is that you may stop using a service and yet forget to stop the auto payment. I recently closed an eBay store that I had. As part of my eBay business, I had automated payments to a template service (that basically made my auctions look prettier by putting a design in the background) at $12 a month and to a selling newsletter for $8 a month. I was annoyed when, a month after I closed the eBay store, I discovered I was still billed the $20. I forgot to cancel the subscriptions.
You may find that some companies make it difficult to cancel online subscriptions. (Remember the old Friends episode where Chandler wants to cancel his gym membership, and every time he tries he is instead convinced to stay?) While it may be very easy to sign up for recurrent payments on your credit card, when cancelling you may need to call the company and listen to them try to upsell you. Persist because it is not worth paying monthly for a service you are no longer using.
-Change to online bank statements. My bank recently began charging $3.00 per month for paper statements. That adds up to $36 per year per account. Because I have 3 accounts with them, it adds up to $108 a year wasted. Yes, I prefer to have physical copies of my statement, but not at a cost of $108 a year.
-Consider changing banks if the fees get too high. Last January, my bank started charging me $9.99 per month for my eBay business checking account. That is $119.88 a year just for the joy of banking with them. I have since cancelled the account. I am now in the market for a new business account for my writing and blogging service, and you can bet I won’t be going with my current bank, and I’ll be looking at well reviewed banks that maybe have good new account promos.
There are plenty of ways to save money if you look carefully. These are just a few ways you can save at your bank and online, but they clearly add up. Making these small changes has saved my family $230 a year!
What other ways do you use to save money?
photo credit: Patrick Hoesly
Melissa is a writer and virtual assistant. She earned her Master’s from Southern Illinois University, and her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Michigan. When she’s not working, you can find her homeschooling her kids, reading a good book, or cooking. She resides in New York, where she loves the natural beauty of the area.