If you’re like most of us and fighting to make ends meet, there are simple things you could do to reduce your monthly bills – especially if you’re trying to pay back student loans. Here are four simple ways to cut your bills and have more money left over for a rainy day.
Check out your student loan options
You made a good decision to forego four years (or more) worth of income in return for an education. Today, that student loan you took out to finance your education may be feeling more like a burden than an investment. If so, you’re not alone. I read recently that about 31 million people have outstanding student loans today. The good news, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, is that many of the companies that provide student loans are now offering a range of lower-cost ways to pay them back. It might really be a good idea to contact your loan(s) provider to see is it offers options that would make it easier to handle that monthly payment. As an example of this, some providers such as Great Lakes will lower your interest rate if you use auto-pay.
Would student loan consolidation make sense?
Another way to possibly save money is through debt consolidation – if it would make sense. You will need to shop a few different loans to find out their annual percentage rates (APR), and the terms of the loans (the number of years to pay back the money). But if the numbers work, you might be able to save several hundred dollars a month through deb consolidation.
Watch for promotional packages
The wireless companies, some utilities and the cable and satellite companies usually have promotional packages that would lower your monthly payments. Since you’re a new customer, the packages would likely include premium services. As an example of this, Direct TV has been promoting what it calls its Triple Savings Event where you could lock in three years of savings that begins with a $33 savings a month the first year.
Look out for hidden fees
Before you open a new checking account be sure to read the fine print. Some banks will require that you maintain a certain minimum balance each month and if you fall below that number, you could get hit with a big fee. Another example of this is that some credit cards charge an annual fee, especially those that offer cash or travel rewards. If you’re in the market for a new card make sure you get one with a low interest rate and no annual fee.
Plan weekly meals
Feeding your family with good, healthy but low-cost meals can be a challenge. One way to meet this challenge is to make a weekly menu and then build your shopping list around it. When you’re in the store, buy only those items on your list and avoid impulse purchases. You might also try to build you menu around meals that use non-perishable items such as canned tuna, beans, rice and pasta. These are types of items you could buy in bulk when they’re on sale and save big. Whatever you do be sure to stay away from prepared food items. You might be shocked at how much money you save just by following these suggestions.
Look for specials and store rewards cards
You could also save on groceries by taking advantage of store specials, especially BOGOs (buy one, get one free) and store rewards cards. For example, our supermarket sends us a mailer each month that incorporates a rewards card we need to swipe only once to enjoy savings for the entire next month and on things we buy regularly.