America Saves Week is Feb. 26 – March 3, and with tax return season upon us, now is a great time to think about stashing some extra cash in savings. Don’t have a specific savings goal? How about vacation, school, retirement or emergency fund savings? It’s not as hard as it may seem, and it doesn’t require a major life change. According to the Dec. 2017 Money Magazine, many Americans are using these simple strategies to successfully cut expenses and meet savings goals:
1. Ditch the cable. Millions of Americans are switching to online streaming services, and for good reason. The average cable bill last year was $103 per month (Leichtman Research Group). A similar steaming package is around $40 per month, providing quite a savings.
2. Switch cell phone plans. The average cost for a family of four was almost $3,000 last year. A family plan could be less than half that at around $1,200. It is definitely worth investigating.
3. Switch credit cards. Carrying a balance on a credit card? Consider switching to a card with a 0 percent balance transfer offer to save on interest while you pay it off.
4. Work on your credit. Increasing your credit score could directly affect the rates you’re offered for new credit and will save you money down the road.
5. Refinance student loans. You’ll want to do some checking to see if this option can save you money. On a $90,000 parent PLUS loan with a 6.6 percent interest rate, you’re paying $1,025 a month on a standard repayment plan. Refinance to a private loan at 4.5 percent and you could free up $93 a month.
6. Skip the gym. The average monthly gym membership fee is $50. Add on specific classes, and you’re paying even more. There are many fitness gurus with free videos on their YouTube channels. Stream their videos right to your smart TV, invest in some hand weights, grab a friend and follow along any time, day or night, from the comfort of your home.
Once you’ve taken steps to cut these expenses, don’t forget to automate a savings payment. Add up the money you would have spent and set up an automatic transfer to your savings account for that amount each month (for applicable expenses). The process of setting a savings goal, making a plan and sticking to it doesn’t require major changes, but it does require thought and effort. Be sure to reward yourself when you reach your savings goal!
Visit <a href=”http://www.americasaves.org/” target=”_blank”>www.americasaves.org</a> for other great savings tips and resources, and take the savings pledge. Also visit <a href=”http://www.finance.usu.edu/” target=”_blank”>www.finance.usu.edu</a> for more financial resources on a variety of topics and <a href=”http://www.famfinpro.com/” target=”_blank”>www.famfinpro.com</a> for regular posts and money management tips.