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As mentioned in a previous post, reducing expenditures can work some wonders with your disposable income. Take a look at what you're spending and decide what is and what isn't necessary. This can be done with a review of your monthly banking statement or with a budget tracking service like Mint. Below are just a few ways to reduce some expenses.
Reviewing Bills - Review every line item on every bill. You may be surprised to find a new unexplained fee or charge. If you don't know what something is, call the provider and question the charge. A few months ago, I took a long glance at my cable bill and noticed a $7.99 charge for 'equipment protection'. I called and learned that I apparently was supposed to opt out of this coverage and had been paying for it the past 2 months! $8 isn't a life changing sum by any stretch, but over time at monthly payments it could be a substantial amount. Check those bills people.
Call and Ask - I'm sure I've said this before... Closed Mouths don't get fed. This one is simple and straight forward. Pick up the phone and give your service provides a call and ask to see if you're eligible for any promotions or discounts. You just might be surprised like I was last week when I called my cell provider and asked if I was eligible for any savings. Turns out they were running a new promotion for my EXACT phone plan at FORTY DOLLARS cheaper than what I was paying. Personally, I think they should automatically apply those savings to their customers, but then I ask myself if I was Sprint would I actively seek to take money out of my own pocket? Another way to go about this is to threaten to take your money elsewhere. 9 times out of 10 they'd rather have less money from you than no money from you. Give it a try and let me know how it worked. Going to try this with a few other providers this week.
Reduce Credit Card Interest - Credit card interest is an expense most people don't think about when they're swiping, or if they do, they believe that they'll quickly pay it off before any interest is charged. This interest is taking money out of your pocket! Try to rid yourself of it as quickly as possible. Not sure how common this is, but my credit union allows me to call in once a year to check to see if I'm eligible for a reduction in my interest rate. Last year, I was able to reduce my interest by 4%. I'm up again for another reduction in a few days and I'm excited to see what I'll save. Another way to reduce interest expense is to transfer your balance to a no interest credit card. I would only suggest to do this if you are in aggressive pay-off mode, because the no-interest grace period usually only lasts 6-12 months and then you're back up to a rate in the mid to high teens. I plan to transfer my balance next year after I add an additional $1k to my emergency savings and am able to drop extra cash.
Coupons - Okay. You've looked at your spending and know what you need to cut back on, but you're not ready to give it up for good. Using coupons can be a great way to save on doing some of the things you like. For instance, me and the fiance are fat kids and love to eat out. Going forward, we can only eat out if we have a coupon. Just this weekend we found coupons for a BOGO deal at Qdoba. Combine that with the remains of an old gift card and you have two burrito bowls and chips for only $3.50! Some people are ashamed to use coupons. Don't be. I'd be more ashamed if I spent more than I had to. Bottom line - check the newspapers, join Facebook groups, become a rewards member, subscribe to email newsletters,RetailMeNot, IBotta, or tweet your favorite restaurants (this actually works sometimes).
Tire Pressure - This one may not be one everybody thinks about, but you're wasting money every time you drive on under-inflated tires. The Department Of Energy estimates that approximately 3.56 million gallons of gas are wasted every day due to improperly inflated tires. Wouldn't you like to fill up less often? Recently, the pressure in one of my tires had been pretty low and I had been neglecting to fill it up until this morning when my low tire pressure warning came on while driving to work. I stopped and filled up each tire to the recommended pressure and improved my MPG from 26.7 to 28.2 in the last 10 minutes of my commute. By the time I got home, my MPG was right around 29! I'll now be able to squeeze an additional 2 1/2 miles out of each gallon and 32 miles out of each tank. Check your tire pressure. Its good for your wallet and the environment.
Y'all have any tips or tricks on trimming the fat from your expenses? Let us know - we'd love to hear!