We all want to find ways to save money and have more in our savings accounts at the end of the month. If you’ve tried and abandoned sweeping changes to your financial habits, focus instead on the little things you can do to save without sacrifice. (And, no, you don’t have to give up your morning latte for the office coffee maker!) Here are 5 easy changes you can make to save more and spend less this year.
1. Check your tax withholdings
“My very favorite tip, particularly at this time of the year, is to adjust your W-4 so you don’t receive a federal income tax refund,” says Gail Cunningham, vice president of public relations for the National Foundation for Credit Counseling. Sure it’s nice to get a lump sum check around tax time, and the average refund in the U.S. is around $3,000. But if you strive instead to get no refund you would have $250 more to spend each month. “People are giving Uncle Sam an interest-free loan each month, and they jump for joy when he returns their own money to them once per year,” says Cunningham. “These are often the very people who could have used an extra $250 in their pocket each month during the year to either save, pay bills or invest.”
2. Unfriend the deals sites
Sites like Living Social, Groupon and others can offer great prices on a variety of interesting products and services, but they are rarely necessities. Is it really a deal to cut the cost of something you would not otherwise buy? Delete these sites from your daily feed, and you will may be surprised by how little you miss those “can’t miss” deals.
3. Calm down behind the wheel
Fitting the rising cost of gas into your budget is a challenge for most drivers. If you can find cheaper fuel, great, but in the meantime there are other things you can do to cut down on the cost of driving. Simply driving less aggressively can help improve fuel economy. Curb your expensive driving habits by sticking to the speed limit, getting regular oil changes and maintenance, and keeping your tire pressure in check. Keeping these factors in mind can also help you control the costs of your auto insurance premium.
4. Reconsider your cable options
No one is asking you to give up cable, which, for some of us, is far more difficult to part with than that daily latte. But these days there are plenty of entertainment sources to take the place of cable. Rob Berger, who runs the blog Doughroller.net, found that by cutting a monthly cable package at an average $80 per month, he could save about $48,000 over 50 years. (Put that $80 into an S&P index fund each month and that money could grow to more than $600,000.) Research the impact on your life and budget if you were to switch to Hulu, Vudu, Amazon Prime, Netflix or a combination of these or other inexpensive or free entertainment options. If you are determined to stick with cable, call your provider and try to renegotiate your monthly price. Cable providers often have money-saving packages available to customers who ask. (You may have to lock into a contract to get a great deal. Compare this to your current package to determine the best move.)
5. Make an extra mortgage payment
It may seem counterintuitive, but spending more on your house payment can actually save you money. With only one extra payment per year—or about $100 per month if you owe $200,000 on a 30-year mortgage at 6%—and over time you can save thousands and shave years off your total mortgage cost. Do it painlessly by signing up for bi-weekly payments through your mortgage company. You know those months when you get three paychecks instead of two? Biweekly mortgage payments will help you leverage those extra weeks and pay off a bigger chunk each year.
Save money on insurance by bundling your policies. Protecting all of your property with Nationwide can help you save up to 50% on your insurance premiums.
Quick ways to save money:
1. Check your tax withholdings (Smaller tax refund means saving more)
2. Unfriend the deals sites (Cut out unnecessary spending)
3. Calm down behind the wheel (Save money by using less gas)
4. Reconsider your cable options (Consider a cheaper cable or streaming option)
5. Make an extra mortgage payment (Pay off your mortgage and save on interest)
Contact a Nationwide Financial Advisor for more ways to save and invest.