The twin mantras of a great personal finance strategy is to make extra money and spend less than you earn. If you’re making all you can, maybe there are some sneaky savings strategies you can employ to save some cash and keep a few more dollars (or rupees, yuan, yen, euros, or pesos) on your pocket.
Another great way to save some cash each month is to pick up your phone and make a few calls.
1. Call your credit card company.
If you’re maintaining a balance (and hopefully working to become debt free), call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate. The national average is around 12 percent so don’t be shy to ask if they will lower it, especially if you have a great history with them. If you never carry a balance, ask if they will waive the annual fee. Now’s the time to do it. With the economy stumbling along, issuers may be more willing than ever to work with you.
2. Call your mortgage company.
If you have a rate higher than 5.5 percent, you may be able to save some cash by refinancing your mortgage. With rates at historic lows, you might be able to lock in a fabulous rate with a shorter term and pay off that loan earlier. Don’t “pull out” equity and waste it on consumable items though. You’re defeating the purpose.
3. Call your human resources department.
Call and ask for a list of benefits that you’re not taking advantage of. Many large companies offer tuition reimbursement, discounts with local companies for different services, or other deals. If you’re able, make sure you’re maxing out your retirement contributions, especially with a company match.
4. Call your insurance agent.
Auto, homeowner’s, renters, life, and disability insurance all need periodic review. You may be able to save some cash by altering your coverage limits, increasing your deductible, dropping unnecessary coverage, or changing to a different product that better suits your needs.
5. Call your Internet service provider or web host.
Many times they will be offering special deals for new accounts. Go ahead and make the call to ask if they will give you the same consideration.
6. Call your travel agent.
Planning to make a big trip? Do all your research online, then call your local travel agent with what you’ve found. She can probably match anything you drum up and you’ll have a local contact in case something goes wrong with your trip. Sure beats calling an 800 number when the hotel doesn’t know who you are and doesn’t have a record of your reservation!
7. Call any retailer.
If you’re planning almost any significant purchase, do some online research and call a local retailer with your findings. Many times they will match what you’ve discovered and save you some cash, but be sure and take local sales taxes and shipping costs into consideration.
8. Call your bank.
You might be able to negotiate a better rate on your savings account or find that they will offer interest on your checking account. It always pays to see what new product twists they might be offering as well.
9. Call your tax assessor.
Find out the requirements for challenging your tax assessment on your home and investigate whether you can get your property taxes lowered.
10. Call your financial adviser.
He or she may be able to help you reposition your portfolio to reduce risk or better allocate your investments between equities, bonds, CD’s, inflation protected securities, or other investments.
11. Call your auto mechanic.
A great cash saving strategy is to keep your vehicle maintained and in good shape. Maintenance is almost always cheaper than repairs. Change your fluids and filters based on your manufacturer’s recommendations. Don’t be afraid to perform basic checks on your own.
12. Call your utility company.
Request a free energy audit of your home to see where you can improve your homes performance with energy conservation and save that cash. Did you know that a small 3/8 inch (10mm) gap in the seal around the typical front door is the same as a hole in your wall 10 inches (25cm) in diameter? How much energy are you losing?
13. Call your doctor.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle means regular checkups. Follow your doctor’s recommendations and keep your health a priority. You’ve only got one body.
14. Call your dentist.
You knew that one was next, didn’t you? Recent studies have validated what dentists have said for years: keeping your teeth in good shape is an important part of your overall health. Get them cleaned regularly and have any “repairs” performed if needed.
15. Call your gym.
Do you really need that gym membership? Have you ever tried to negotiate your prices down based on how much you use your membership? Are they offering specials to new members? Ask if they appreciate their old members as much as their new ones!
16. Call the Small Business Administration.
If you’re like many people, you’ve dreamed about starting your own business. Go ahead and make the call to the SBA to see what steps you’d need to take and to talk with someone about your ideas or dreams.
17. Call your family or friends.
Staying in touch with family and friends has a beneficial effect on your health and staying healthy is usually a good way to secure your ability to produce an income.
18. Call your old boss.
It never hurts to stay in touch and by calling an old boss, you might be able to network your way to a better position. You don’t have to contact the particularly nasty bosses you may have had, but I’ll bet there’s at least one you respected and could re-establish a good networking relationship with.
19. Call someone you’ve wronged.
Who was the first person that popped into your mind when you read that? It’s never too late to call and ask forgiveness if you can’t go see them in person. Remember that no one has to forgive you just because you ask, but you can never know the freeing effects it will have on you to just ask and get that out of the back of your mind.
20. Call your cable company.
They offer deals to new customers all the time. Ask them the same thing you ask your gym, “Do you value your old customers less than you value your new ones?” Put them on the spot. Don’t take no for an answer!
21. Call your local college.
Many times they will offer audit classes at low or no cost. You could take a few refresher classes for free to help you in your job, or to prepare you to finish your degree that’s been bothering you for the last 10 years.
What do all these ideas have in common (other than the phone)? They all involve you being the initiator. Take the steering wheel of your own life and make a few phone calls. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, to ask for a discount, to ask if they value your business, to ask if you can take advantage of their new offer, to ask forgiveness, to ask for advice, or to ask for a better rate. If you think about it, they probably won’t be calling YOU!