When I wake up to a beautiful day, I can’t help but throw open the windows to let in some fresh spring air. After a long winter of being cooped up inside, it’s time to give the house a face lift. So I get started on my spring cleaning.
You probably have a similar ritual. It feels so good to shake everything out and start fresh.
But why stop there? This is the perfect time of year to give your finances a good shake out, too. So today, I want to turn that spring cleaning energy towards something a little different. Your bills.
Follow these tips to spring clean your finances, and save the money for fun stuff!
There are a few areas of your budget that can really reap some serious savings. Of course, gaining big savings takes some big work. But trust me, it’s totally worth it.
When is the last time you checked your mortgage rate? Rates have been pretty low lately. And even if they begin to creep up, you can sometimes find a “sale” happening at your local bank.
Since your mortgage is likely your biggest bill, you’ll save the most money here. We refinanced a couple of years ago when rates dropped, and we managed to save over $200 on our bill every single month.
That is money that we were just giving to the bank as a thank you for loaning to us! None of it had been going towards our principle.
It’s crazy to hand over more of your hard earned money to a bank than you absolutely have to.
- Know what your current mortgage rate is.
- Call around to local banks for their best conventional rate.
- Don’t get sucked into a mortgage that will balloon to a larger payment later.
- Check several different banks. You may be surprised at what a smaller bank can offer you.
Be aware of:
- Be sure that closing costs won’t wipe out the savings you’d earn by refinancing.
- If possible, shorten the length of your mortgage and save even bigger over time.
This is another big area of savings, especially because you likely have a variety of insurances to review.
You’ll want to make some calls to make sure you are getting the best rates on:
- Car insurance
- Homeowners or renters insurance
- Life insurance
- Health insurance (unless you get this through work)
- Read How to Find Affordable Insurance
Find a trusted insurance broker who can shop around for you and get you the best rates. That will save you both time and money!
Be aware of:
Be sure that you are comparing apples to apples. You don’t want to save the money on insurance only to find that it doesn’t cover important things like replacement value rather than market value. That’s nothing fun to learn about during an emergency!
We have a BHAG to make some serious payments towards our debt this year. Part of our strategy is to make sure that we are getting the best rates possible on the debt that we have.
- Review your current rates on any loans and credit cards that you own.
- Call and ask for discounts in your rates. Sometimes this involves multiple calls or requests to speak to upper management before you’ll get the answer you want.
- If you have no luck with discounts, look for ways to refinance to a lower rate.
Be aware of:
Don’t be fooled by great looking rates that come in your junk mail. Many of them require you to pay at least a 2% balance fee on the entire amount that you’d transfer to that 0% interest rate card. Do the math to make sure that won’t wipe out any savings you would have made.
Also be sure to never consolidate unsecured credit card debt by using a home equity line or other collateral. It’s not worth risking your home for those kinds of savings.
Other Savings to Consider
If you live in a state that has deregulated utilities such as gas and electric, you might be able to save some money this way. Learn about options and what the rates and stipulations are.
Go down your budget list and carefully consider your choices for every bill that you pay.
- Phone (land/cell)
- Gas & electric
Be aware of:
Any stipulations a different company might have as far as contracts or fees they won’t advertise up front.
Memberships and Subscriptions
It’s time to take a hard look at your memberships and subscriptions. Especially the ones that are charged to your credit card or taken from your checking account on a monthly or yearly basis. It’s easy to forget about them, because they are often automatic deductions or infrequent bills.
Consider whether each of your memberships and subscriptions are really worth the cost. If you can afford them and they bring you joy (or some other great benefit), then they should stay.
If not, try to find a cheaper or free alternative.
Some of these bills might include:
- TV (Cable, Netflix, Hulu, etc.)
- Try free movies from the library, get an antennae for local channels, stream from internet
- gym memberships
- Try home exercise videos, run outside, yoga channels on YouTube
- magazine subscriptions
- Try Pinterest, your favorite magazine’s website
- shopping memberships
- Consider if Costco or Sam’s Club is saving you enough to pay for your fees
Fines for ending contracts early.
Also, many of these companies will not be happy to lose you as a customer, so they will give you enticing offers to stay. If you take advantage of a great price with a time limit, make a note of it on your calendar to review it again before time is up.
Choose your biggest savings area and save the money for more fun things!
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