I don’t know about you, but for me every paycheck is like a mini Christmas that ends nearly immediately when reality sets in. Bills, rent and saving for retirement makes every payday a budgeting reality. So in these times, it’s important to take some relatively easy steps to stretch your budget.
Start with your credit cards. Often people overlook where their money is going when it’s as easy as a tap, not to mention interest and fees:
1. Pay your credit card balance in full each month. If you don’t pay your credit card balance in full each month, you will be paying steep interest rates on the balance. That interest rate could easily be 15% to 20% or more annually.
2. When getting cash from ATMs, use only those affiliated with your own bank so you can avoid the transaction fees charged by “foreign” banks. These fees typically run $2 to $3 per transaction. Or get a card from a bank that absorbs fees, such as Capital One or Chase Sapphire Preferred.1
And make sure you’re truly keeping track of your bills. Auto-payments make it too easy to let month after month go by without tracking each item spent.
3. Look At Your Household Bills Each Month. Telephone, cell phone, cable/satellite, internet service provider, and trash removal service. Can any of these be reduced by switching service providers? Do you use all the calling features you pay for? Do you watch all those channels in your current cable or satellite package?
4. Consider Getting Rid Of Some Of Your Non-Essential Household Items. If you have a cell phone and a home phone, perhaps you can give one up. If you don’t mind watching television shows a bit after the premiere, you can save money by getting rid of cable or satellite service.2
5. Need some extra cash? Look through your closets and attic for stuff to sell on eBay. Did you know that the average household has more than $1,000 worth of items that could be auctioned off for cash.