Expense management is something that we care about here at Mint.
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Bills pilling up? Paying for charges you don’t even recall making? It may be time to look at your expense management.
Why bother? Well, massive debt aside… it’s always nice to have extra money when you really need it. Here are some suggestions on ways to cut and reduce your expenses.
Bank for free? Why, thank you!
- These days, paying fees for a bank account should only happen if you’re getting awesome (and necessary) service. If your checking or savings account has a fee, it may be time to move on. Many checking accounts from national chains will waive monthly fee if you set up direct deposits. Many more local credit unions will let you open a maintenance-free account for as little as $5.
- Get rid of cards with annual fees. Finding a credit card without an annual fee is as easy as finding a college student with a stash of “goodies” in their closet. If you have a credit card with an annual fee, it better give some benefits that easily offset them. (Free companion tickets for those that are frequent flyer, large perks and bonuses at frequent spending locations, etc.)
- Avoid silly fees. Keeping track of your checking account will limit silly expenses such as overdraft fees. The same applies for your credit card’s credit limit. Keeping it in check = less over-limit fees. Don’t forget to pay the bills on time and you won’t be hit with late fees. These days, it’s incredibly simple to set up automatic payments via online accounts. Use these features!
- Hit with a fee? Bounced a check? Ask the bank man nicely and they may reverse it. Of course, don’t expect them to be nice if you’re a repeat offender.
- Tired of $.01 interest a month from your bank? Consider these high-yield online savings account which currently offer up to 5.00% APY: HSBC Direct, ING Direct, and Emigrant Direct.
- Consider paying electronically. You’ll save time and you’ll save money on ordering new checks and paying for stamps. Most checking accounts these days have free Bill Pay options. Use them. Your checking account doesn’t have one? Get a free one that does. Remember, it’s to the bank’s advantage to make it as easy as possible for you to pay off your bills.
Entertainment for cheap? Don’t mind if I do!
- Use a library for “free” books. Spending more than you care to admit at Barnes and Noble? Check out your local library. Today’s modern library is vastly different than those of decades ago. Many of them share their inventory with local neighboring libraries within the same county. Most now have an online catalog to browse from (and to request books or renew your rentals). You’ll find that many also stock the latest DVDs, and a new collection of audio books. You’re paying taxes for these libraries, so use them!
- Renting more than once at the local national chain? Consider cheaper alternatives such as Netflix (or a good torrent tracker — just kidding); or find that local $1 DVD rental shop. Just remember to return your rentals on-time. Extra-Bonus: You can request movies online at most libraries, now you can have your own free movie rental store.
- Drink-in instead of drinking out. Although it’s always fun to have a few rounds with the pals at the local bar, it can be just as fun when you have a go with buds at a friends house. The cost of a few bottles shared between friends will always be less expensive than a night out at the bar.
- Movie theater lover? Check out resources such as Fatwallet’s free moving screening post for the latest free moving screening deals.
- Local parks, anyone? You don’t always have to exercise at the gym. Find a nice local park, rekindle your love for b-ball and remind yourself why you can’t dunk.
Auto saving? Yes please!
- The easiest way to save fuel on gas is to keep your tires inflated properly. Look for your proper tire pressure level on the driver-side door frame, or check your car’s manual.
- Besides making sure your fuel economy isn’t affected, keeping tires inflated properly will also prevent premature tire wear and prevent unnecessary cost in replacing tires. Regularly checking your tires alignment and balance will also prevent a quick tire life span.
- Don’t drive around your closet. If you get rid of unnecessary items from the trunk, that reduced weight will offer better fuel economy. For every 250 pounds you haul around, your car loses about a mile per gallon.
- Buy the proper octane/grade of gasoline for your car. If your car manual says 87, pump 87. If your car manual says 91, pump 91. Check out GasBuddy.com for the cheapest gas places in your area.
- Don’t drive like Speed Racer. Pedal to the metal at every stop light? Braking hard for no reason? The more the engine speed fluctuates, the more you’re overexerting the engine and the more fuel you’re using.
- Drive at a reasonable speed. Fuel economy, in most cars, will vastly improve if you just drive a bit slower. Plus, you can avoid those silly traffic tickets.
- Commute smartly. If you have to drive to a certain place everyday, find the cheapest route if possible. You’ll be surprise how much time and money you can save if you don’t sit on a congested highway all day long (and it’ll lower your blood pressure, too).
- Put some time into finding your auto insurance. Compare from at least three different companies, and compare the rates again once every year. Check your health insurance to see if you’re already covered for certain accident so you can forgo personal injury protection and avoid duplicated insurance.
- Buy a practical car. In fact, buy a practical used car. Craigslist, Yahoo Autos, eBay and Auto Trader are great places to find deals.
- Don’t let the dealer tack on unnecessary add-ons when it comes time to sign for the car. Be aware of your credit score and the interest rate you can obtain before you head into a financing office. Better yet, obtain alternate financing or cash beforehand to see if other dealers can match or beat rates.
Got some simple tips expense management? Feel free to share so we can all save some extra dough.
This post was written by Cap of StopBuyingCrap.com.