A few financial moves can make a huge difference in your bottom line. Try these ideas that helped one family pay off a big debt in one year.
Not everyone loves New Year’s resolutions, I know, but I happen to be a huge fan. You have to love the chance at a fresh start, and what better time to make big changes than at the start of a new year?
But before we sit down to establish our goals for next year, we should look back at how we did this past year. What went well? What could have gone better?
For two years, our main goal has been to pay off all of our credit card debt. So let’s take a look at the best moves we made this year to set our finances straight. Here’s hoping you can put some of these ideas to work in your own life!
The 7 Best Financial Moves We Made This Year
Let’s build up from the least savings to the most.
7. Used Money Saving Apps
I fought owning a smart phone for a long time. I’m never quick to add extra payments into our paychecks. So when I finally got one, I was determined that it would pay for itself.
The smart phone added $5 to every bill, so I needed to make $60 to cover the costs. The total ended up at $55.55, so I got pretty close! Had I signed up for a couple of these earlier in the year, I would have easily made back the full $60.
The low effort apps I used to earn that money were:
The Ibotta app will give you rebates on groceries and other items you buy regularly. I love the option to save 25 cents on any item for uploading your receipt. They offer money back on things that are hard to save on like produce and meat.
It also helps to bring the costs of my Hubby’s favorite craft beers down to regular beer prices. And they are adding more and more stores, so you can save on clothing and other household items.
Saved $8.25 (Plus got a free month of Amazon Prime!)
Another free app that pays you back is Paribus. When you sign up, you’ll give them access to your emails. Because I send emails for purchases to one specific email address (not my main email!) I didn’t mind this.
Paribus will scan your email receipts to see if you can get cash back. If a store has a price matching policy, you can get money back if the prices lowers after you buy.
I wish I’d signed up for this earlier in the gift buying season. They discovered that one of our Amazon Prime shipments came in late, and we got a free month of Amazon Prime!
More and more stores are offering the option to have your receipt emailed to you, which makes this service even better.
First of all, we probably saved a ton more than $14 from decluttering! Keeping up with the clutter means fewer lost objects and lower stress. It’s so important to regularly go through your house and just get rid of the stuff.
But you might as well make a little something from your time, right?
Decluttr is an app you’ll want to load before you start decluttering the house. As you sort though things that are just taking up space, give them a quick scan. Decluttr will tell you if they pay for those items.
And, you guessed it, this one is also free!
6. Switched Phone Providers
Saved $50 (With far more savings coming up in the new year!)
We’ve heard the buzz about Republic Wireless for a while, and have always been curious. But because they require specific phones, we didn’t want to make the switch until our phones gave out.
So when my phone quit being reliable a couple of months ago, we shopped around for a good phone that would work with Republic Wireless. Then we made the switch.
I won’t lie to you. The first week was a little rough. The service wasn’t super reliable, and we had to learn some new settings on the phone. But their customer service was awesome, and after the initial rough patch, it’s been smooth sailing.
We’ve now switched all 3 of our cell phones to Republic Wireless service. The first few days were an adjustment with each phone. But if you can ride out that time, you’ll save a ton of cash. Had we made the switch in January, we’d have saved $600 this year!
You can also look into Straight Talk from Walmart. Though it’s not as cheap as Republic Wireless, you’ll probably still save big over standard companies.
Saved $103.39 (I actually bought one other pair of glasses that I should have gotten through Zenni, so this could have been an even bigger savings.)
If you have kids with glasses, then you know the struggle. They leave glasses lying where the baby can break them. Kids lose them just a week after you bought them. They get stepped on or have an icicle break them.
(Wait, that was Ralphie.)
If you can’t stomach the cost of glasses, plus sports goggles, plus replacement glasses and a back up pair (oy), it’s time to learn about Zenni Optical.
The only struggle I had with Zenni was taking the eye measurements. But you can figure that out with a little Googling. We actually love the quality of the glasses we got for our son, and the price tag can’t be beat. A set cost us $80 at the eye doctor, but only $16.61 (after shipping!) from Zenni.
4. Transferred A Balance
There was a time when credit card companies would offer you 0% interest on balance transfers for a limited time without a lot of fine print. Those days are mostly over. When you find an offer like this now, you usually have to pay a 2% to 5% balance fee. When you do the math, you might find that it doesn’t save you as much as you’d expected.
If you have a card at a high rate (like 20% or more!) the fee will probably be peanuts compared to what you’re spending on interest now. Unless you have plans to knock out that debt in just a couple of months, you’ll save big by transferring your balance.
For that, I’d recommend the Chase Freedom card. They have a reasonable normal interest rate, and they have been easy to work with. (Please don’t use any credit card to run up debt!!)
In our case, paying a balance transfer fee didn’t make sense. We were planning to have it paid off in a few months, and our rate wasn’t so astronomical that we would save that much. But then I got a letter from Discover card. They were offering me 4.99% on any balance transfer with no fee! That was a no brainer. I made the switch, and we saved hundreds.
3. Cheap Phones
Saved $1,450 (We bought 3 phones this year and none of them were the standard $600 for a brand new phone.)
It’s disappointing that cell phones don’t last longer. If you know how to make them last longer than two years, please share your secret!
To save money, we always buy our phones outright. (There are few things I hate more than monthly payments. Too many monthly bills will shrink your paycheck to nothing.)
We buy phones that are not the latest model. We’ve bought refurbished phones. It probably goes without saying that we’ve never owned an i-anything. Only once or twice have we had trouble with these types of phones, and then it was no problem at all to return them and get our money back.
2. Made Repairs Ourselves
This one is hard to quantify! But I’m certain it’s at least a couple thousand in savings.
You have access to Youtube and Google. Why not try your hand at a repair? If it doesn’t seem dangerous, it’s worth a try. Besides, if you mess it up worse, you’ll call a repair guy…which is what you were going to do in the first place.
1. Paid Off Two Credit Cards!
Thousands and thousands (and the savings continues…)
Paying off debt is the gift that keeps on giving. The beauty of credit card debt is that if you work hard to get rid of it, you’ll loathe the thought of falling back into that kind of debt. So you shouldn’t have to waste those payments ever again.
We fought tooth and nail to get rid of as much debt as possible this year. It would have been nice to finish off all of the card debt we owe, but we can’t be too sad to have two of the three cards finished now!
Learn how to get out of debt with your own #yearofno!
Making changes, big or small, can add up to big savings.
Why not take a look at your own budget to see where your money is going? Maybe you can find someone to provide the same good service at a better price!
You’re a smartie who loves to save money…so I know you’ll love getting one newsletter packed with money saving tips each week! Sign up here and you’ll even get a whole page of freebies you can use to set your budget straight!
What financial move have you made that boosted your savings?