Let’s face it. We’ve all been paying bills for a long time, right? You’d think we’d know all the tricks by now, but maybe not. Whether you’re building your nest-egg, or retired and trying to make it stretch, here are a few ideas. Most of them will save you cash, and Bright Idea #1 will help you avoid big surprises!
Bright Idea #1 Avoid utility bill surprises. Your service providers and utility companies may offer to balance your payments, averaging your use over 6 to 12 months. You’ll have no unexpected huge bills and it’s easier on the budget. If they don’t offer the service consider paying a balanced amount yourself, just be sure to manage it so you always have a surplus balance!
Bright Idea #2 Shop around for car insurance. You should compare coverage every six months to make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Whether you switch companies or not, raising your deductible can shave off more dollars. Then save by bundling with your home policy and raising your deductible too.
Ask your insurance provider if they offer a discount when you complete the AARP Safe Driving Course (AARP members get a discounted price).
Bright Idea #3 What’s happening with your home insurance? Compare rates at least annually. Are you paying for coverage you don’t want, or need to add coverage for recently acquired valuables? Have you installed an alarm system? Be sure you’re getting credit for it. If you were a smoker and quit, you may get another discount. Don’t forget to bundle your home and auto policies too.
Bright idea #4 Consolidate your high interest rate credit cards with a personal loan and potentially save thousands in interest while lowering your monthly bill.
Bright idea #5 Cut your cell phone bill with better rate plans. Start by checking your actual use. You might find you’re paying for service you don’t even use. Find out if you can share minutes with a second user on the same plan or get a discount. And if you have any other adults on your plan consider setting them free to get a plan of their own.
Bright idea #6 Make your home affordable! Interest rates are low, probably lower than when you financed the last time. Ask your lender if you qualify for a refinance. They’ve been known to waive fees with current customers. Besides potentially lowering your monthly payment by hundreds of dollars, you’ll likely get to skip the first payment.
Bonus! Make sure the new terms allow you to prepay on the principle or make an extra payment every few months and you’ll pay off your loan early and have the potential to save thousands over the life of the loan.
Bright idea #7 Make the most of monthly subscriptions. Take an hour to inventory your monthly subscriptions. Cancel magazine, fitness, hobby and food subscriptions you don’t use on a regular basis. Be aware of auto-renews!