Edwin C. is a master of saving money: As the head blogger of Save The Bills, he's constantly finding new ways to save money and figuring out new ways to earn a better living from the money you make. He chatted with us about finding savings and better ways to budget.
What was the most surprising savings tip you've seen? Did it work?
One way of spending less is by buying unwanted gift cards. Depending on the store, you could score a $100 gift card for just 80 bucks. That's an instant 20% off right off the bat before even using coupons.
How do you balance savings with having fun?
Life is short, so you need to enjoy it, but while still being financially responsible. There are ways to still have a good time without breaking the bank. Whenever I want to do something, I always look for the cheapest option available.
When traveling, for example, I book a hotel during the week to avoid costly weekend rates. If I want to see a movie, I go during the matinee and skip the popcorn.
When we start trimming a budget, where should we first look?
The first thing to look at when trimming a budget are the recurring expenses that you thought you couldn't trim at all. I'm talking about things like the cable bill, the cell phone bill and insurance policies. Other than our rent, these monthly expenses take the biggest bite of our income.
It's possible to reduce what you pay on your cable bill by getting rid of extra channels. You could trim your cell phone plan down by checking your usage to see if you're on the right plan. You can also decrease your insurance premiums by raising your deductible.
If you could give your younger self one piece of financial advice, what would it be?
I would say to use your credit when you're young. I was scared of credit, so I never opened up a credit card or got a car loan. While that certainly kept me away from debt, it hurt me when I wanted to buy a house. It became difficult to get a home loan with very little credit history.
What are some trends in personal finance we should keep an eye on?
Apps like Mint that help us manage our money are on the rise. They can help us visualize where our money is going so we can make a better decision on where the next dollar goes.
While your smartphone can help you both manage your money and save money, soon everyone's smartphone will be used to make instant payments at the grocery store, gas station and the mall. While this sounds exciting since we won't need to carry around IDs, credit cards or cash, it also opens the door to identity theft, impulse purchases and, thus, ruined credit scores.