Happy 2024! If your family is anything like mine, you likely thought “I think we’ve spent too much” at some point over the holidays. If so, this blog’s for you. I will share some ideas and tips about saving money this year in ways you might not have considered. Read on and then let me know if you have other tips to share with our fellow readers.
Let’s start with something we ALL spend money on: Food, healthcare items, and home improvement:
· We already know that we should shop the sales at grocery stores, but who has time for research? Consider downloading the Flipp app to find sale items at the grocery, drug, home improvement stores that YOU choose. It aggregates sales flyers for your zip code, so you don’t have to go find them yourself and offers you the best deals on those things you want. And it’s free.
· And if using Flipp still sounds like to too much effort, go ahead and shop the way you do now but then simply scan your receipts using an app like Fetch Rewards, which will alert you to rebates and other offers on those things you just purchased. No one hates getting money back…
Streaming and subscription services:
· Check your credit card bills, bank accounts, and Amazon to ensure you KNOW which services you are paying for. Or use an app like Rocket Money that scans your bank account and credit cards and shows you the services you currently pay for. You might be subscribing to something you’ve forgotten about or don’t use any more (a tv streaming service, audiobook service, gym membership?) Then just cancel them.
· And don’t forget that it's ok to negotiate with existing service providers! If you signed up for something like cable tv at a promotional price and then were shocked to find out what the actual monthly service costs, call them, and talk about it. You might be surprised at the offer of either a cost reduction OR even more services for the price you are paying (I’ve gotten both!) It’s in the provider’s best interest to keep you as a customer and they are often happy to offer you a discount just to keep you onboard.
Home energy – that BIG bill each month:
· If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, get one right away. You can buy them for less than $100 now. There is no reason to air condition and heat an empty house. And you can raise or lower the temp before you get home to make it “pre-comfortable” too. Even leaving ceiling fans going costs money when no one is there to enjoy them.
Do you love free stuff as much as I do?
· Scan Facebook Marketplace, Swip Swap, or Nextdoor for curb alerts. People are often ready to give away or deeply discount things they no longer need. You’ll find everything from appliances to toys to cars here and will almost always pay less than retail on those things you really want and need.
· Remember when you were a kid, and you visited the school and community library for books? If you have stopped doing so, you have missed out. These days, the library offers so much more than books. Music, movies, audio books, etc. All for free! And you can do much of it online. This can save you money on many of your existing entertainment services.
· Are your credit cards paying you to use them? If they aren’t, ditch them for something better! And if you have the discipline to pay it off every month, put your regularly recurring expenses on your cards (utilities, groceries, etc.) A cash back card is a no-brainer, and you can even use that cash back to make card payments too.
· But also think about what you really like to spend your money on. For example, do you like to travel? Many airlines and hotels offer credit cards that accumulate points or dollars that you can spend on their services. Airlines like Delta even apply your Delta credit card spending toward the accumulation of status on airlines – which can help with things like upgrades and club memberships.
· And travel isn’t the only category. If you (for example) spend a lot of money on Amazon, consider their proprietary Visa card which accumulates Amazon dollars every time you use them – and you can then very easily spend those dollars on more Amazon stuff. Ditto private label cards like the big box home improvement stores, your favorite clothing stores, and more.
· The bottom line? STOP using a credit card through your bank that doesn’t offer you rewards when there are so many out there that offer more.
Finally, let’s talk about my area of expertise. Are you in the right house?
· Is it time to downsize? Or to buy vs. rent?
· Do you need a more energy-efficient home, one in a lower tax or HOA scenario?
· Do you need more storage, extra bedrooms (or fewer), a home office, access to a different school system, or are you just looking for a lifestyle change? If so, please let me know. We can start with a no-pressure (I promise!) conversation about where to start. And I can do the heavy lifting for you in the sale of your existing home and/or the search for your dream home too.
Whatever you decide to do this year to manage your financial life, please share your ideas below. Let’s learn together.