1. Check your credit score and credit report often (especially leading up to a big purchase)
A useful practice most are unaware or forget to do is habitually checking one’s credit report (you get a free report from each of the 3 credit reporting agencies every 12 months). Ensuring that the report is correct is vital, not just for identify theft, but also to ensure everything is reported correctly.
This could negatively affect your credit score, which assists creditors when determining if and at what rate they should lend you money. This could potentially save your thousands if you’re looking to make a huge purchase, like a house.
2. Unsubscribe to retailers’ email list
Ever been asked for your email when checking out at your favorite store? Beware! Often these retailers add you to their distribution list that routinely (often times daily) bombards you with their latest deals. I’m all for getting the best deals, but sifting through these type of emails everyday often tempts you to purchase things we may not necessarily want or need. Unsubscribe and when you’re in the market for a particular item or service, search the internet for the best available deal. Subtract the temptation!
3. Search for promo codes and coupons
Anytime I make an internet purchase, I always search for promo codes and coupons for the particular retailer I want to make a purchase. Another approach is visiting www.cheatsheet.com, which lists the top promo and coupons sites out there. I don’t always find a deal, but I always make sure I do my due diligence before making that online purchase.
4. Have overdraft protection
When using a debit card, you should establish an overdraft feature to avoid fees. In January 2016, CNNMoney reported that the three big banks (JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America) collected $6 billion in overdraft fees alone in 2015, which equates to $25 per American.1
5. Read your employer handbook
As I recently wrote about in my blog, I have a friend recently save a truckload on daycare, just by reading the employee handbook. He took advantage of the offered benefit and it literally saved their family hundreds of dollars every month. Day care is extremely expensive, so use anything and everything at your disposal. Make sure you’re taking advantage of those fringe benefits you might not know about!
6. Match your use with your plan (cell phone, health plan)
Ensure your cell phone bill matches your use. Many people pay too much compared to what they actually use (in terms of minutes and data). A periodic check of your plan is always a good idea. The same goes for your healthcare plan. I recently had a client that enrolled in her employer’s Cadillac healthcare plan, but she was young and very healthy, so she rarely went to the doctor. Unless you have foreseeable health issues, I’d recommend the high deductible health plan many employers are offering today. Oh yeah, the annual premium for the high-‐end plan was more than 3x the base plan premium!
7. Don’t shop (in general) should hungry
Most have heard that you should never grocery shop hungry. However, recent research shows that individuals spend more (about 64% more!) on non-‐grocery products while shopping hungry too.2 Moral of the story: pack a snack when doing any kind of shopping!
8. Purchase generic brands (40% savings)
I’ve read that you can save approximately 40% (as high as 50% for medications) on your shopping bill just by buying generic over name brands.3 A 2014 CNNMoney article cites that Americans waste approximately $44 billion a year on name brands.4 Many generic brands have the exact same ingredients, so why pay more?
9. Shop with discount gift cards
Another good tidbit to save some cash is to shop for discount gift cards. Sites link giftcardgranny.com, raise.com and cardpool.com boast savings of up to 50%! You won’t get that deep of a discount for more well known retailers (maybe as high as 10-‐12%), but it’s always worth checking it out.
10. Avoid the “but I deserve it mentality”
I feel like a lot of people get in trouble with this mentality (not only in the money realm, but also with diet) and it is critical to be aware of. Sure, it is okay to splurge every now and then, but it becomes dangerous when it becomes habit. One thing I recommend is to set up a “splurge” fund that you deposit money in monthly that funds the “I deserve it” moments. This keeps your behavior in check and allows you to track when and how much you’re splurging.