7 Ways Financial Experts Save Money, Even When Expenses Are High
Saving money is a goal for many — some want to sock away for retirement, others like to plan for a rainy day or use funds to finally fly to that dream destination vacation spot. Yet more than 69 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in their savings account. More pointedly, according to Bankrate, 39 percent of Americans state that it is hard to save money because expenses are so high.
It may be difficult to save money when unexpected expenses occur, but it isn’t completely out of your hands. There are little and big ways to become proactive in saving money. I chatted with finance experts to find out seven ways they save money, even when expenses are high.
Try to negotiate your bills.
It may seem like you’re powerless to negotiate some of your bills, but for everyday costs, you may have some latitude to lower expenses associated with a service.
“You likely can’t negotiate the cost of most utilities, like heat or electricity. However, your cable bill might have some wiggle room in it,” says personal finance expert Jeffrey Zhou. Cable companies offer new customer discounts, which means there might be some room for them to come down. “Also make certain to check your bill for any service charges or rental fees. Some cable companies charge a few dollars a month to rent their equipment, which may cut into your bottom line,” Zhou says.
If you sign up for a free trial, put a reminder in your phone or calendar to cancel it before you get your first charge.
It’s almost too easy to sign up for a trial subscription service, especially on smartphones. There’s a tendency to forget about these services — and then, before you know it, you’re signed up for several monthly payments.
However, if you place a reminder on your phone, you’re likely to remember to cancel the subscription. “I like to put the reminder in two days before the plan renews, so there’s plenty of time to cancel. It’s always great to take advantage of free trials for services you use every day. However, don’t risk losing cash as a result of an unintended subscription you don’t need. This is also helpful for year-long subscriptions that you might forget are maturing into the next billing cycle,” adds Zhou.
Pay careful attention to your utility bills.
Evaluating how well things work in your home or apartment might save you money in the long-term. It could be as simple as checking your appliances. “You might be losing money due to poor insulation or poor plumbing. If you suspect your water bill or electric bill is too high, contact your landlord to see if there’s anything in your home that might need to be replaced. This can include running toilets, drippy faucets, drafty windows and more,” says Zhou.
Be cognizant of electricity usage by not keeping lights and fans on, as well as unplugging appliances when they aren’t being used. Try using energy efficient light bulbs as a way to cut down costs.
Change up your routine and shop at a store with more affordable prices.
Becoming a savvy shopper can help you save money for the future. There are several apps that allow you to immediately price compare and determine which store can get you the best bargain. Over the long term, consistently paying less for an item can add up to some serious savings.
For instance, “You can save money when you buy a food item that is significantly cheaper at another store than where you normally shop. Or you can be more aware of the brands you purchase even at the same stores you shop at. Getting a different brand name item can save people money when they have to travel farther away to reach a more affordable store,” says Anthony Martin, CEO of Choice Mutual.
Pay attention to small ways to save.
There are several small ways you can save on day-to-day services. According to Martin, that includes collecting online and physical coupons, looking into memberships that can potentially save you money, and buying discounted gift cards.
Also, instead of throwing receipts away, look at the bottom, as many have discounts toward the bottom. Another great way to save is to “research when stores in your area have the best discount deals or sales,” adds Martin. You also want to travel to stores or run errands by planning them out in advance so that you can conserve gas and time.
Consider meal planning.
Eating out can get expensive, and buying groceries last minute means sacrificing cost for convenience. These costs can be eliminated by meal planning weekly. “You can shop and plan meals based on what’s on sale, or what has a deal each week. This will help cut back spending on groceries. You can save money by buying items in bulk, and using coupons,” says certified public accountant Anthony Lokenauth.
Reduce frequency of buying high-end items.
It might be difficult initially, “but try to cut out buying expensive bottles of cologne or getting steak at a high-end restaurant,” says Martin. Foregoing immediate gratification and saving money for the future means sacrificing the high of buying luxury items.