By Martin A. Smith, CRPC®, AIFA®, President, Retirement Planning Financial Advisor™, Wealthcare Financial Group,...
When it comes to your household budget, there are certain corners you just can’t cut. Even though something is a necessity, it doesn’t mean you can’t get it cheaper … if you know where to look, that is. Thanks to new technology and old-fashioned comparison shopping, there are all sorts of ways you can cut down on your expenses without sacrificing your standard of living.
1. Check Out Freecycle.org
What if I told you there was a whole network of people across the world who were giving away free stuff every day to good homes? Well, there is, and you don’t have to know some secret passcode to get in. Just go to the Freecycle homepage, and search people in your area. Whether you’ve always wanted to have some exercise equipment, of you need to find a slew of baby clothes, or you could really use a newer couch than the one that just broke, see if anyone in the network is getting rid of what you need. All you have to do is contact them, let that person know you’ll happily give him or her that bed frame, grill, table, etc. a good home, and then go pick it up. It’s that simple.
2. Get Some Imperfect Produce
How many times have you looked at your monthly food allowance, and wished there was some way to get your fruits and veggies without paying quite so much for them? Well, there is a way. You see, when farmers grow imperfect products, like lopsided apples or funny-shaped potatoes, they don’t even bother sending them off to stores. They know no one is going to buy them. There’s nothing wrong with this food and it’s perfectly healthy … it’s just not all that pretty.
That’s where Imperfect Produce comes into the picture. This company partners with farmers, and buys these fruits and veggies that no one else wants at a discounted rate. They pass those savings along, helping you fight food waste and making sure you get a full crisper drawer at a fraction of the cost you would have paid at the local supermarket.
3. Call Your Providers and Ask About Prices
Most of the time, we just accept our necessities at face value. Whether it’s our power bill, our Internet provider, our cell phone plan, etc., we set aside the money, pay the bills, and rarely question it. But what if you could pick up the phone and knock 10 percent off your monthly rate? Or more? Would you do it?
It’s easier than you think. A lot of the time all you have to do is contact your service providers and ask them if there’s a way you can lower your monthly bill. You don’t even have to threaten to leave. These businesses want to keep you on board, so they might enroll you in programs you didn’t know about, or remove extraneous features you’ve been paying for but don’t need. For example: many Internet packages still have additional charges for home phone service. If you ask your provider to remove that cost, it can take a bite out of your bill.
4. Join Reward Programs (And Use Them)
It used to be that reward programs were only for people with superior credit and a lot of money to throw around. These days, though, it seems like every business has one. It can be the membership cards at your gas station, the VIP cards for local restaurants, or just a bus pass with some benefits. Read the terms of usage and figure out what you can do with your points. These programs typically cost you nothing to enroll in and they can have big benefits. So check with your grocery store, your gas station chain, your Credit Union, and everywhere else you go to be sure you’re not missing a chance to get rewards … and lower prices.
Specific sites provided are for reference only and are not endorsed nor recommended by Marine FCU. Be sure to research any sites/companies you choose to use.