Hello once again! Welcome to Frugal February! I know we are late in the month, but these are all good things to know regardless of what month of the year it is! With that in mind, I hope you’re ready for another fun filled round of Scott’s tips and tricks!!
- Always start with a budget.
No one like to do one, but a budget is one of, if not the most important thing you can do to help ensure you are able to succeed both now and into the future. Understanding where your money goes on a regular basis and when it goes there allows you to properly plan. You want to be as precise as possible when creating a budget. To do this, I would suggest going back at least 3 months and tracking where your money has gone. Once you have that down, you can then see what expenses are considered needs and what are considered wants. In gaining that knowledge, you are then able to create an ideal budget in order to save more for both your short- and long-term goals.
It used to a much more labor-intensive exercise, but with technology, you can now use your apps to help make sure you stay on track. There are many to chose from and all of them are good. Goodbudget, Personal Capital, Mint, Zeta, Trim, Prism, etc. Look at a few and find the one that you like the best and use that stay on track!
- Cash in credit card points, know how to maximize getting future points, and how to use them most effectively with your existing cards.
People tend to hoard credit card points. These points can be a very useful tool to help reduce expenses. Say you want to take a family vacation, that can add up to a substantial out of pocket expense. Check your points and see if they have any special offers for planning a trip where your points can help cover some or all of the cost. This would reduce your out-of-pocket expense. Another example could be other big-ticket items as well. I have used my credit card points to purchase new golf irons a few times. Golf is an expensive sport, especially when you need new clubs and my credit card points have helped me reduce that cost, freeing up cash for other, needed things.
Research how to maximize how many points you get, and how to best use them from the cards you have. Different credit cards have different benefits. As an example, credit cards may use more or less of your points for different things. Say you want to purchase a TV with your accumulated points. You search the TV you want and see that it’s 50,000 points. You also notice that you could get a gift card to best buy and if you use 40,000 points to do so you could go to Best Buy and purchase the TV outright! That would save 10,000 points for future use! It is worth the time to research this as it will tell you how to use your points most effectively (Google is a very helpful tool). Credit card companies have arrangements with many merchants. Check which offers are available where you may get 2x, 3x, or more points for purchases at different merchants.
- Cancel unused subscriptions.
We all have subscriptions for many things we don’t really use. Make sure to cancel them! Companies are smart! They charge low monthly fee’s because most people won’t take the time to cancel it if it only costs $10 per month. It seems like more of a headache to figure out how to cancel than to just keep paying them. From a business model perspective, it is brilliant, but from our standpoint, it can add up to a lot of wasteful spending. Unused gym membership, Netflix, Hulu, Roku, Prime instant video, and many others. Ask yourself, is the $10-$20 a month worth the amount of time I spend on all these. To break down why canceling these can help, let’s do some quick math. Say you pay $20 per month for a service you don’t really use. Doesn’t seem that bad right. That ends up being $240 per year, $1,200 over 5 years, and $2,400 over 10 years. This assumes that whatever service this is doesn’t increase in price over that time (which we all know won’t happen). Now assume you have 4 of these services! That would be just under $10,000 over 10 years! It adds up quick.
These are just a few things you can do, not only in February, but throughout the year, to help spend less, and hopefully, save more for your future goals. There are many other small tweaks I didn’t talk about here that can help as well. If you want to chat more about them, I’m always here to help.
Thanks for stopping by once again and keep an eye out for my next post!