Have your spending habits been upended recently? Like many you’re probably doing more online shopping and take-out ordering. And while you might be going out less for dinner and entertainment—you could still be going over-budget.
Get in financial control by keeping track of your expenses. This will help you identify costs to trim costs and bump up savings. Here are a few things you can do right now to help.
Make a Budget
The first step toward cutting expenses is to make a budget, so you know exactly where your money is going. Start with major categories, like rent or mortgage, utilities, transportation, food, clothing, and entertainment. Then break it down even further to ferret out items that are ripe for reducing. Many people, for example, are surprised to learn just how much they pay for pricey coffee and snacks from restaurants and vendors that would cost a fraction of that amount if they were made at home or purchased at a grocery store.
Be sure to check out our easy-to-follow, interactive, Budgeting Tool. This simple module can help you quickly get a better sense of where your money is going.
Lower Your Mortgage Payment
The biggest monthly expense for many people is a mortgage payment. If you haven’t examined that loan since you bought your home years ago, it’s quite possible that you could save a lot of money—both now and over the life the loan—if you refinance at a lower interest rate. To know whether refinancing makes sense, you’ll need to add what you’ll spend on closing costs into the calculation of your new monthly payment.
Right now rates are near historic lows so it’s a great time to see if a refi makes sense. Be sure to ask your Credit Union first. We own our own home-loan company! So you can get highly competitive rates and personal hand-holding service at every step of the way.
Get an Insurance Checkup
If you have a car, you absolutely must have car insurance. But it pays to shop around periodically to make sure you’re getting the best deal. If you have a decent emergency fund on hand in case of an accident, one way to lower your premiums is to increase your deductible.
Also be sure to examine your policy for “extras” you may not need. For example, you could be paying for roadside assistance both through your insurance policy and through AAA.
Examine Your Auto-Payments
Putting your regular bills on auto-payment can be a really smart way to protect your credit rating by ensuring you’re never late with a payment. However, if auto-pay causes you to keep paying for items or services you don’t really need or use, it’s no bargain. A few common culprits include unused gym memberships, subscriptions to magazines that aren’t read, and cable or satellite TV plans that include premium channels that are rarely watched.
Ditch the Land Line
If you’ve already ditched your land line, good for you! If not, doing so is one of the quickest and most pain-free ways to trim your expenses. You probably have your cell phones with you all the time anyway!
And if you really like the feel of a traditional phone in your hand, a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) plan that provides phone service over the Internet is a lot cheaper (free in some cases) than traditional land line service.
This article was developed in partnership with Balance Pro.