It can be a difficult task, finding enough fat to cut from our bloated budgets. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be. In the interest of making your budget-balancing as easy as humanly possible, here are 10 ways you can save money, every single month, without lifting more than a finger.
1. Automate your payments. Whether you’re directing money to your IRA or paying the water bill, make it all automatic so you don’t even have to think about it. You’ll save more money for retirement, and avoid those late-payment charges whenever you forget about a bill. This is fairly easy to do with online bill pay these days. Check with your bank, if you’re not already set up.
2. Dine at home. Keeping your meals in-house will save hugely on those pricey restaurant bills. And if you cook in large quantities and eat your own leftovers, you’ll cut your expenses even more than if you’re whipping up a new creation from scratch every night.
3. Comparison shop online. There’s no need to run all over town to find an item at a decent price. Sites like PriceGrabber, NexTag and BizRate can scour the entire web in seconds, making sure you get the best possible deal on your merchandise.
4. Use rewards cards. If you have to spend money, you might as well get some perks for it, by using a credit card with a handsome rewards program. Sites like CardRatings and CreditCards.com can help you find the best out there.
5. Bundle your cable, Internet and phone. Odds are you’re already buying those three services, so pick up the phone and get them all from the same company. Whether it’s Time Warner, Cablevision, or any other provider, they’ll undoubtedly be thrilled to give you a monthly discount.
6. Refinance your mortgage. Even if you’re happily in your home and not planning to move anywhere, you can still save money. Interest rates are still at historic lows, and if you can get a new loan for 1 percent less than you’re paying now, it may be worth the switch to save hundreds every month. Just be sure to understand how refinancing could change all the terms of your loan, and also factor in all the costs of refinancing. Sometimes you could end up paying much more in refinancing fees than you’d be saving in the end. Or, you could end up adding more time to your loan and increasing your total payout, which wouldn’t save you money at all.
7. Buy less for the holidays. Here’s the laziest solution of all. People tend to buy more holiday gifts than they can really afford, so make a pact with friends and family to keep everyone’s purchasing sane and inexpensive. Less hassle for you, less money drained from your accounts.
8. Cancel the health club membership. Do you truly use it, or is it just for show? If the last time you showed up was during the last Bush administration, cancel those dues, go for a run around the park instead, and pocket the difference.
9. Increase insurance deductibles. It’ll take no more than a single call to your insurer. But raising the deductible on policies like auto or home can save you big on all those monthly fees you’re paying. The only catch is that you need to be sure you’ve got that deductible amount on hand in case you need to make a claim because that’s the amount you’d need to kick in before your insurer pays out anything.
10. Slash household bills. Especially in these tough times, there are plenty of companies willing to jockey for your business. At sites like LowerMyBills you can compare and contrast everything from your wireless plan to your home equity loan, to see if you can get better terms. BillShrink is another site that will compare credit cards, wireless plans and even help find the cheapest gas for your car.