The world’s economic situation has changed dramatically over the past years. From the first cases of COVID and continuing political tensions worldwide, each event had an impact on various indicators. One of the most affected indicators that have a dramatic impact on Americans’ lifestyles is inflation. The higher inflation rates determined price increases in essential and non-essential products. Thus, Americans started to face such an unprecedented situation. Many have decided to cut their budgets and spend on necessary items only. However, saving money in difficult times shouldn’t be a difficult process. You can still have a relaxed lifestyle if you use these simple ways to save money.
Contributed by Mary Jo Terry, the Managing Partner at Yrefy
Ask credit card companies for a better interest rate
Although it might come as a shock, you can negotiate with your bank or credit card company to get a lower interest rate on your credit cards. Credit card debt is at a 20-year high for Americans, and many find themselves having to continue to rack up money on their cards to pay for necessities. If you find yourself in this situation and the debt continues to pile on because you’re unable to make monthly payments, call your credit card company and ask for them to lower your interest rate. The worst that could happen is that you could get a simple “no” from your credit card company.
If you have a good past relationship and credit history, usually may your payments on time and are responsible, they may help lower your interest rate. This simple question can help you pay less over time.
Ask utilities about a payment plan
Even if you’ve never been on one before, many utility companies offer payment plans. As utility prices continue to rise, you have options to keep your utilities on without draining your bank account every time you get paid. Call your utility companies and ask about being put on a payment plan that works for you. These plans let you pay your bill in a way that’s comfortable for you and works for your budget/pay schedule. This way you can have an exact idea of how much you’ll pay for utilities each month, without worrying about whether or not you’re going to have enough.
Negotiate a lower cable rate
Before you completely get rid of your cable TV, call your cable company and inquire about a lower rate. Explaining that the cost of the service has gotten too high and you’re going to have to cancel the service if you can’t get a lower rate will usually spark a conversation that will go in your favor, especially if you’ve been a long-time customer. Whether they upgrade your package for free, or simply do lower your bill to something that’s more manageable for you. Cable companies want to keep your service, so calling to ask for a lower rate during these tough times can usually get you a discounted price on something that isn’t a necessity for you.
Ask about changing student loan monthly payments
Tens of millions of Americans have student loans, and although the Biden Administration is calling for forgiveness of up to $10,000 for many borrowers, many borrowers will still be left with a balance to pay each month. But since taking on student loan debt, many Americans’ incomes have changed. Looking into Income-Driven Repayment Plans (IDR plans) for student loans. This can help set your monthly student loan payment at an amount that is affordable for you, based on your current income. If you’re earning less than you were before, this is a great way to continue to be able to make your full payments on time while lowering the amount you owe each month. You may even find that you can spare a few extra dollars here and there each month that can be put towards the principal.
Ask yourself the hard questions
Most of the unnecessary spending we do comes from trips to Starbucks, TJ Maxx, or other non-essential stores and restaurants. Ask yourself the hard question of whether or not you really need to make specific purchases. If you pay for every streaming service that’s available each month, you likely use one more than the others. Figure out what spending in your budget is going towards things you don’t need to buy each month and you can identify what is easier for you to eliminate or what you’re willing to give up for the time being. Maybe you can adjust your budget to fit those fun purchases in.
You can also challenge yourself where you go 24 hours without unnecessary spending, or maybe you can even stand up to a week. This can help you reevaluate where your money is going, and what purchases you can cut out while not limiting your lifestyle. Things like groceries, gas, utilities, and other necessities don’t count towards this challenge. But purchases like eating out, a new pair of shoes, or even a new makeup palette can add up quickly to your monthly expenses.