But here’s the less-scary truth: there are easy ways to save money and put cold hard cash back in your pocket (or your 401(k)) where it belongs.
We have a few hacks (six, to be exact) up our sleeves that could save you a bundle.
Know the tricks to stop over-paying
Think a luxury item needs to come with a luxury price tag? Think again. Many items we consume daily (cable/ internet/ cell service) as well as those we save for (vacations/ vehicles) come with a high price tag – if we let them. We do have influence over these items, so shop wisely.
Cable bills can hurt; consider whether you have the time or money to watch the 200+ channels you pay for. If you're not watching 195 of those 200 channels, it might be time to join the cut the cord movement. A combination of HD antennae, streaming services (think Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime) and streaming devices (think Apple TV and Google Chromecast) can significantly reduce what you're paying to be entertained.
Vacationing on a tropical island will cost you a fortune during the holidays for one reason: everyone else wants to be there at that time too. You can save 30-80% by vacationing during a region’s “shoulder season,” or the months that fall directly before and after peak season. Speaking of travel…
Booking flights is rarely a cheap endeavor, but here’s a trick that could help: whenever you’re looking for a round-trip flight, also try searching for the individual legs separately, too, and see if they come out to be cheaper than buying the round-trip. The way that airlines price their fares is complicated, and this can often mean inexplicable – but very welcome – savings!
Grocery shopping is something that we all have to do, but that doesn’t mean that you have to overpay just like everyone else. If you want to save big, shop on Wednesdays. Most grocery stores start their weekly sales on Wednesday, and many will still honor sale prices from the previous week, so you can save extra. Also try to buy products from the bottom shelf at the grocery store when you can. Famous brands pay to get placement at eye-level—and pass their marketing costs along to consumers. The items on lower shelves may be just as good, and they are often a lot cheaper.
Putting bills on autopay can make them easy to forget. Use the Autopay Analyzer to figure out how much you are spending on automated bills such as magazine subscriptions, music streaming services, and internet and how much you could sock away if you redirected that money toward an investment account.
Buying a new car can be a stressful (and expensive) endeavor, but did you know that when you buy can make hundreds of dollars of difference? Simply knowing the best and worst times to buy a new car can help you buy smarter while saving a heap of cash. Educating yourself by doing online research into market price of the car you want to buy before you set foot on a car lot can also save you money. The automotive pricing website TrueCar will tell you what other people in your area paid for the same car locally and nationally.
What you can do next
Replacing bad financial habits with good ones can get you on track to reaching your financial goals faster and it doesn’t have to take herculean discipline.
Being mindful of where your money is going, stopping to think over purchases to reduce impulse-buys, and looking for better deals on recurring bills can help build a well-padded savings account quickly.