It seems everyone is on a budget these days. You may have had reasons to reconsider your spending during the pandemic, perhaps due to illness, missed work, under-employment, or unemployment.
This article will address seven unexpected ways you may be wasting money and give you tips on what to do about it.
Unanticipated Ways You Might Be Wasting Money
Money Tip #1: Combine Trips
When you get in your vehicle to run errands or go to work, think about how you can combine the two to save time and money. Perhaps you can pick up your dry cleaning on the way home from work. Perhaps when you drop off the kids at school or pick them up from a friend’s house, you can do some shopping. If one of your children is borrowing the car, have them pick up something you need for you as a condition of the loaner.
Think about how you can save time and money driving around by combining trips. If you can find ways to combine trips, not only will you save money on fuel, you will reduce the wear and tear to your vehicle, delaying regular service and making break-downs less likely. You will also drive fewer miles, possibly reducing your car insurance premium.
Money Tip #2: Downgrade or Bundle Your Cell Phone Plan
An unlimited plan is luxurious, but do you really need it? If so, can you get a family plan or go in with a neighbor or relative for a group plan?
Almost everyone wastes money on an expensive cell phone plan they do not fully use or need. Take a look at your bill – see how much you are spending? Could the nature of your cell phone use be supported by a less expensive plan or a group plan?
Talk with your cell phone provider about your cell phone use and whether another less expensive, available plan might suit you just as well.
If you cannot downgrade your plan or buy a group or family plan, consider bundling your cell phone plan with your cable, internet, or landline, or any combination of these. Most cell providers offer other services. Give them a call and find out whether you can save money bundling what services you are already paying for.
Money Tip #3: Downgrade Your Cable and/or Internet Plan
Along with Money Tip #2, this tip involves paying a lot for something you do not fully use or need. Do you work from home? If not, do you need the fastest internet speed? Do you watch out-of-area channels, such as sports channels, cooking channels, or home improvement channels? If not, you may not need that comprehensive cable television plan.
Take a good look at the TV you actually watch. Now that many stations are offering streaming services, it may be possible for you to cancel cable altogether and just stream over the internet. Look into it – you can save big bucks this way.
Money Tip #4: Set the Thermostat a Few Degrees Colder in the Winter, a Few Degrees Warmer in the Summer
To save on heating and cooling, heat less in the winter and use the air conditioning less in the summer.
Why? Not only are you saving on your electric bill and the cost of the natural gas or heating oil you use, but there will also be less wear and tear on your HVAC system, and it will require repair less often.
Service your HVAC system seasonally every year to optimize performance and anticipate any problems that may arise with the system. Be sure to change filters as recommended because a dirty filter will cause the HVAC system to work harder, wasting energy as well as increasing wear and tear.
Money Tip #5: Join Your Local Bulk Discount Club
If you do not belong to a bulk discount club, join now. You know that you always purchase certain things, called “staples” of your household. You would be amazed at the discounts you receive by purchasing more than you need immediately, items such as:
- Dry goods like beans and pasta;
- Frozen foods;
- Meat, poultry, and seafood (surplus can be frozen for future use);
- Canned and jarred grocery items;
- Paper items such as napkins, tissues, and toilet paper.
Bulk discount clubs also offer other goods for sale at excellent prices, such as:
- Seasonal decorations and furniture;
- Vehicle Tires.
Bulk discount clubs may also offer services at a discounted rate, such as:
- Vehicle servicing;
- Pest control services.
A low annual fee gives you access to hundreds or thousands of dollars in savings on goods and services you need anyway.
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Money Tip #6: Make Purchases Off-Season
If you need a new grill, do not buy it in June. Wait until it inevitably goes on sale in August or September. The same goes for seasonal clothing – try to anticipate your needs by two seasons, and buy while demand is low and so prices are low.
There is seasonality to making a car purchase too. If you need a new car, the fall is the best time to buy, just as next year’s models come out. Dealers are looking to off-load last year’s cars and are more likely to wheel and deal.
Money Tip #7: Service Your Vehicle Regularly
This is essential no matter what type of vehicle you drive and how old it is. Regular maintenance keeps the car operating optimally and allows your mechanic to spot any developing problems and nip them in the bud.
Ignoring a check engine light or an unusual noise is a recipe for a big car repair bill eventually. For example, if the low tire pressure light is on and you ignore it, you risk getting a flat tire which at high rates of speed can cause a ruined rim or a more severe car accident, perhaps with multiple cars involved. Don’t risk it. As soon as you hear or spot a potential problem, let your mechanic know.
Another example would be ignoring the oil pressure light or not having your oil changed every recommended period. Running out of oil could cause your engine to overheat and seize, in which case you will need to purchase another engine. Pay for your $40 regular oil and filter change so that you do not have to buy a $7,000 engine in the future.
About the Author
Veronica Baxter is a blogger and legal assistant living and working in the great city of Philadelphia. She frequently works with David Offen, a bankruptcy lawyer in Philadelphia.