Regardless of your saving goals, many Americans find they aren't able to save as much as they like. According to a recent survey by GoBankingRates, 62 percent of Americans have less than $1,000 in savings and 21 percent don’t have a savings account. A total of 9.2 percent of respondents to the survey admitted to having just enough money in their savings account to meet the minimum requirements set by their bank.
Read on for everyday budgeting tips that can help bolster your savings, courtesy of American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC).
Housing and Utilities
If you’re struggling with an unaffordable mortgage or rent payment, moving to a cheaper location or getting a roommate may be better options. Other ways to lower housing costs include:
• Refinance your mortgage to get a lower rate, or switch from a 15-year to a 30-year loan.
• Challenge your property tax assessment.
• Investigate whether bundled services (phone, cable, internet) could save money, or whether you can live without some of these services.
• Wash only full loads of dishes or laundry.
• Turn off lights and electronics when not in use, and turn off heat or AC when no one is home.
• Install a programmable thermostat to have more control over your heating and cooling costs.
Buying used cars and driving them for years is a great way to reduce your lifetime transportation expenses. Short-term ways to reduce costs include:
• Raise the deductibles on your auto insurance policy.
• Strive to get insurance discounts such as good driver, good student and multiple car accounts.
• Investigate carpool and public transportation, and see if your employer offers any subsidies.
• Avoid repair bills by maintaining your vehicle properly with regular oil and filter changes.
• Plan your errands around your driving route to avoid multiple trips and save on gas.
Dining out utilizes nearly half of the average family’s food expenditures, so eating at home is one of the simplest ways to reduce what your spending on food. Other ways to control costs include:
• Bring lunches and snacks to work.
• Check your fridge for items to use before they go bad.
• Give up unhealthy foods and drinks (soda, candy, etc.).
• Use the weekly grocery store circulars to find sale items and shop accordingly.
• Create a price book so you know when items go on sale and what’s a good deal.
Personal Insurance and Retirement
Consumers might be tempted to cut back on their 401K contributions to pay off debt, but avoid this practice if possible. Most companies with 401K plans offer partial fund matching, so failing to contribute means consumers will miss out on free money. Other places to look for savings include:
• Consider refinancing your term life insurance. Rates have dropped in the past decade, so you may qualify for a lower premium.
• If you have a long-term disability policy, investigate the savings if you opt for a longer waiting period to reduce premiums (as long as you have an emergency fund).
• Suspend contributions to annuities and other accounts that don’t offer matching funds or tax breaks.
With ever-rising health care costs, employers are asking their workers to take on a larger share of the expense. Try these tips to save on health care expenses:
• Buy generic/store brand drugs.
• Order prescriptions via mail on the internet.
• Look for free or low-cost clinics.
• Monitor insurance claims to make sure you’re not getting stuck with bills.
• Take care of yourself by exercising regularly, avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol and wash hands regularly to avoid getting sick.
Clothing and Services
Many people update their wardrobe with the latest fashion trends. Others simply refuse to wear the same outfits more than once. Try these tips for limiting clothing and service expenses:
• Perform an inventory of your wardrobe and only buy items that work with what you already own.
• Avoid dry clean-only clothing.
• Try getting your hair cut at a beauty school instead of a salon for a much lower price.
• Cancel your health club/gym membership and find ways to workout at home (walk/run outside, purchase some weights, workout with friends).
• Buy clothes out of season when stores discount them (winter coats in summer, shorts in fall, etc.).
Source: American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC)