You know saving money is important, but you're probably tired of the same old advice. You've stopped buying Starbucks every morning and started brown-bagging your lunch for work. Is there anything else you can do that doesn't require living like a starving student forever?
Yes, there is! In fact, here are five easy and effective things you can do to budget better and save more money.
1. Spend one hour every month reviewing your statements
While your bank account and credit card statements aren't probably at the top of your reading list, taking the time to look them over is a super easy way to save money.
The good news is you don't have to spend a lot of time reviewing them. All you need is about an hour a month. Check your statements to see if you're paying any unnecessary fees, such as account maintenance, ATM fees, or late payment fees on credit card balances. You'll also want to reconcile the charges and make sure there are no fraudulent purchases.1
2. Budget your “fun" money with a prepaid card
Sometimes it's just too tempting to dip into your checking account when you run out of spending money. An easy way to prevent yourself from overspending is by putting your fun money on a prepaid debit card.
Prepaid cards are safer than debit cards because they don't provide direct access to your checking account if lost or stolen. They also let you set a predetermined spending amount. Just swipe until you use up the balance — and then resist the urge to hit the ATM for cash.
Reloading your card is easy and convenient, too. Just be sure to choose a prepaid card that charges minimal fees — some cards on the market are notorious for their excessive fees.2
Did you know Amazon Prime members spend more than twice as much as other customers? Consider cutting your Prime membership to save big.
3. Consolidate your subscription services
When it comes to streaming video and music, $7.99 here and $9.99 there seems like a small price to pay for millions of titles at your fingertips. But these inexpensive subscription services can really add up, especially if you take advantage of premium add-ons — those with no commercials.
In fact, one study finds that Americans spend $2.1 billion per month on streaming services alone.3 Bottom line: You probably don't need Netflix and Hulu and Prime Video and HBO Go and Spotify and Apple Music and … you get the point.
4. Cancel Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime might seem like a great way to save money, but the service is set up to make you spend more. In fact, Prime members spend more than twice as much on Amazon products per year as non-Prime members —$1,700 versus $700, respectively.4
By paying up front for "free" shipping, it can feel like you need to get your money's worth and place a lot of orders. Plus, non-Prime members can still get free shipping on qualifying orders over $25. But remember, you save the most money by not spending it at all.
5. Install coupon-hunting browser plug-ins
Even though online shopping is an easy way to overspend, it's also often the way to get the best deals on things you actually need — and sometimes it's the only way to get what you need. Unfortunately, it's easy to get lulled into thinking that Amazon has the best deal on everything — but that's often not the case.5
So instead of crossing your fingers and hoping that you got the lowest price, install a browser extension that does the work for you. Wikibuy is one of several browser plug-ins that will automatically search for deals on any product you try to buy on Amazon. Wikibuy will help you find online coupons and figure out which merchant offers the best deal when you factor in both coupons and shipping. Additionally, the tool will apply any coupon codes at checkout, making sure you get the most bang for your buck on every order.
You don't have to make major sacrifices to trim your monthly spending. Just be sure to funnel your newly found cash into a savings account for when emergencies pop up.
Important Disclosure Information
This content is general in nature and does not constitute legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You are encouraged to consult with competent legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment professionals based on your specific circumstances. We do not make any warranties as to accuracy or completeness of this information, do not endorse any third-party companies, products, or services described here, and take no liability for your use of this information.
Justin Pritchard, “How Bank Reconciliation Works and Why It's Important," The Balance, January 3, 2018. Accessed July 6, 2018.
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