Thanks to inflation, families like mine are having to cut costs where possible just to make ends meet. While canceling the satellite TV & the private riding lessons are obvious ways to save money, sometimes more drastic measures have to be taken. In our house, we call this “trimming around the margins” which means looking for savings in not-so-obvious places.
Trimming around the margins means saving $5 here and $10 there just by changing a few habits. While this doesn’t seem like a whole lot of money, all those bits of change add up to realize some hefty savings. Here’s a few of the ways that our family trims costs around the margins to save several hundred dollars a year.
Avoid bank fee triggers. Banks are in the business to make money which is why customers are fee’d to death. These fees can be minimized by following the guidelines which may include maintaining a minimum balance, signing up for eStatements, and using your credit card at least once every six months.
Don’t use third party credit card processing centers. Prefer making utility or insurance payment by phone or online? Many companies use third party processing centers which will cost you 2-3% of the payment balance. This can be avoided by signing up for Billpay or sending a payment by check.
Say no to the frills. Gym memberships, cel phones, cable, and even hamburgers come loaded with frills. Scaling back the extras to the basic plan is another easy way to trim costs.
Use your rewards card everywhere. Grocery stores, hardware stores, discount stores, gas stations, and even the corner drugstore all have rewards programs than can save their customers a few dollars with each shopping trip. If you don’t have a rewards card, get one. If you’ve lost or forgotten your card, a home phone number can substitute.
Avoid payment plans. Home and Auto insurance companies offer easy monthly payment plans, for a price. When I figured out that we were spending $64 a year on service fees, I switched to the free quarterly payment option.
Get bids on basic home and car service work. Whether it’s routine service work on the car, a home’s HVAC system, carpet cleaning or Chemlawn, shopping around can also save money. I saved $30 a year on our biannual furnace checks by merely switching companies.
Volume discounts. We all know that bulk groceries are often cheaper by the ounce. What you might not know is that user fees such as car registrations, subscriptions, and membership dues are also discounted if you pay at least two or more years in advance. This simple strategy can save 20% or more while locking you in to a lower price.
Don’t pay interest. This doesn’t just apply to credit cards but also to doctor bills, furniture payment contracts, and even contractor invoices who all start charging interest once the grace period passes. Watching the due dates can save you the interest charges. Asking for a cash discount at the time of the service may even knock off 2-5% from the bill.
More by this contributor:
Ten ways to cut food expenses and increase your savings.
How to use found money to jump start your savings.
What not to cut from your budget when times are tough..