It’s a simple fact that to avoid debt problems you need to spend less than the amount printed on your paycheck. But like a lot of ‘simple’ things in life, it’s an easy concept that can be hard to put into action, especially if you think your spending is already cut to the bare bones, there’s no room to make changes and you don’t have the will to break old habits. But before you nix the idea of altering your budget, consider a new strategy that won’t scrimp on those things that make life more enjoyable. Here are a couple simple ideas:
Sometimes called a double or triple play, service companies offer discounts to their customers who sign on for more than one service. Combine your cable, Internet and phone services and watch the savings add up substantially over time. Insurance companies also offer bundled deals for auto, home and life insurance policies at discount rates as an incentive for allowing them to fulfill all your insurance needs. The added convenience of a single bill will also make it easier to remember to make the payment each month. Be sure to shop around for the best rates as competition is intense for both insurance and cable service providers.
Shop the Discount Stores
Many people become fans of particular stores without a thought to what they’re paying for. The glitzy store displays and advertisements that come in the mail all add to the cost of their merchandise. But if you’re someone with debt problems who needs to make adjustments in how you spend money, there are an amazing number of discount stores cropping up that sell name and off-brand items at deeply discounted prices. Large retailers include TJ Maxx and Marshall’s and specialty shops like DSW for shoes and Aldi for groceries will help cut expenses. Local secondhand and resale shops are another viable option with the added incentive that many are associated with charitable organizations and your purchase goes to benefit someone in need.
Compare Products, Prices and Services
Impulse buying is the pitfall of many people in debt over their heads. Before buying any large ticket item or hiring for a large maintenance or home improvement project, get the opinion of others. One big advantage to shopping online is the ease in which you can do just that. Even if you plan to purchase an item at a store, doing your homework online first will direct you to the best deal in town. And consumer service websites like Angie’s List will help you choose the best contractor and avoid the nightmare of hiring an incompetent one.
There are numerous websites like overstock.com that provide discounted and novel items and services to their customers. Groupon.com gives deep discounts for local merchants and services in your area. Ebates is a online portal for hundreds of popular retailers, like Office Depot, Target, Sears, the Gap and many more, offering rebates for up to 25% when you buy through the site.
Get What You Have Coming
There’s a cottage industry in America whose purpose is to save money by using coupons and rebates. Many of these people claim to be saving hundreds of dollar each month through their efforts. But while you may not have the time or inclination to be an avid couponer, don’t neglect sending in the rebate offers that apply to things you buy; the procedure is less time consuming than coupons and offer bigger rewards. Cash rebates are designed as an incentive to try new products, buy multiple items or utilize a company’s services.
Redeem Your Credit Card Rewards
It’s been estimated that one-third of all credit card cash rewardsgo unredeemed. That’s a whopping $16 BILLION in consumer money that stays in the credit card company vaults. And that doesn’t include other reward types, like points or miles, that are like money in the bank that is never withdrawn.
Many consumers are naive about the type of credit cards they use, with many jumping to apply for the first credit card offer that will meet their financial needs. Check your cards! Do you have accumulated points, miles or cash back rewards that you weren’t aware of or that you haven’t used? No two programs are alike, so review your credit card statement to see what you’ve accumulated, what they can be redeemed for and if there’s an expiration date. If you’re not certain about how the rewards program works, contact the credit card issuer.
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