- Gas: We all have to put gas in our cars, some more than others. But technology has some great tools for us. Use the GasBuddy app to find the cheapest gas station in your area. Just type in your zip code and the app will show the best prices instantly. If you also drive more smoothly, accelerating gradually instead of jack-rabbit starts, along with keeping your tires at the proper inflation level, these things will help to improve your gas mileage as well.
- Name-Brand Loyalty: Don’t be afraid to buy generic and store brands for what you eat. Name brands are the things we all recognize, household names like Tide, Coca-Cola, Kraft, Nabisco, Keebler, Libby’s, etc. They appeal to us, and we buy them because they are familiar, and sometimes we get them to impress our friends and neighbors. But the truth is that store brand items are often the exact same thing, but with a different label and a smaller price tag. Some things we may be brand loyal on (for me, it’s Dawn dish soap), but opting for more generic and store brand items can save a lot of money in the long run!
- Cable, Phone, and Internet: Cable has long been a staple item in most American households, and the landline phone before that. These days, most Americans also have high-speed internet access, and that number is increasing almost daily. But the cost of these things adds up over time. One estimate places the average phone, internet, and cable bill in America at about $120 a month, and many are much higher than that! Consider dropping one of these services. If you have two cell phones for both husband and wife, the landline may not be worth it. If you have Netflix and Amazon Prime, maybe it’s time to cut the cable if you’re not using it. If you have multiple providers in your area, don’t be afraid to shop around either, pitting the companies against each other. Competition is good for consumers and only helps us get better quality services for a better price!
- Insurance: Our insurance policies are in place for one main purpose: to transfer risk. We pay a premium each month on our medical, homeowners/renters, car, and life insurance policies (plus a few others for some people) so that if a very expensive incident happens, we only have to pay a small amount, whereas the insurance company covers the rest. Insurance can be very expensive though, especially medical due to the increasingly bureaucratic American healthcare system. One way to save money on this is to reassess your coverages and see where deductibles can be raised, or policies canceled. If you have a whole life insurance policy, for example, you could save quite a bit of money monthly by switching to a term life policy. Term life insurance runs about 1/20th the price of whole life insurance and is a better deal for various reasons that Dave Ramsey has explained myriad times on his show. On car insurance, consider raising your deductibles to $1,000, which will lower your monthly premiums. Or even consider getting a new provider. Zander Insurance shops around for you and finds the best rates for what you need.
- Coupon: My mother was, and still is an incessant couponer (as is my mother-in-law). They’ll hold onto every single coupon that comes through their mailbox and inbox and just wait until the things they wanted or needed to go on sale, then throw a coupon on top of it to save a ton (speaking in terms of ratios) on what they bought. Sure, it takes some patience and due diligence, but over time this will put more money back in your pocket which can then be applied to your debts or savings. (As one final nuance on this subject, I will also say that it’s best practice to buy things because we need them, not because they are on sale; some advice from a fortune cookie I’ll never forget).
Let me know what you think! Are there other tricks you’ve learned over the years that have cut down your costs? Feel free to share them!