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When it comes to managing money, one thing is pretty clear: everyone wants to do a good job and come out ahead. But it’s also pretty clear that this is easier said than done – unless, that is, you have a solid plan in place. The problem? Most budgeting tips have it all wrong; they focus on the small wins instead of thinking big.
Around these parts, we know budgeting works. My wife and I lived on a shoestring budget as newlyweds, and we still live by many of the budgeting tips that helped us survive on my teacher salary for that first year. Over time, however, we’ve learned to shift our thinking when it comes to managing money.
The Best Budgeting Tips Think Big
Yes, what they say is true: if you take care of the pennies, the dollars will take care of themselves. But we have also learned that if you focus on the dollars, too, you can experience some big wins for your budget. And those big wins really move the needle on your financial thermometer.
So stick around, and we’ll show you three savvy budgeting tips that helped us trim our budget and save tons of money! You can even implement them today and start saving more money immediately.
1. Negotiate Your Car Insurance Rates
I get it. Calling your insurance companies sounds just about as fun as dropping by the dentist for a voluntary root canal. Why would any subject themselves to the pain?
But the honest truth is you’re probably leaving better insurance rates on the table.
For example, take car insurance. I have found that the average person has little idea what they’re actually paying for car insurance each year. So start by taking a look at your current policy and analyzing exactly what your policy provides.
Let’s focus on these key areas:
Premium – this is the price you pay for your insurance plan. It may be listed as a monthly, six-month, or 12-month premium.
Deductible – this is the amount you will pay before insurance kicks in when you file a claim.
Bodily injury (per person) – this is the amount your insurance provides for each person who is injured in an accident.
Bodily injury (total) – this is the amount your insurance will cover for bodily injury per accident.
Property damage – this is the amount your insurance will cover for damage to property owned by others (your insurance covers your vehicle through a different provision)
Collision – this is your coverage for vehicle collisions with other vehicles or objects.
Comprehensive – this coverage basically covers a wide range of possible damage to your vehicle (hail, wind, water, fire, etc.)
Paying close attention to these key areas of your car insurance can potentially save you a boat load of money. How? Knowing what you pay is half the battle, but it also equips you to seek lower premiums by comparing prices on equal plans from different carriers.
We recommend starting the negotiations by calling your current provider. Be polite, courteous, and firm and state the simple reason for your call: you’re looking to reduce your current car insurance premiums.
One of the biggest keys to a successful negotiation is having data to back-up your request. If you’ve been accident free for a decade, kept claims to a minimum, have a clean driving record, and can describe all of the safety features your vehicle has to offer, say so – that alone can go a long way.
Here are a few other tips to help you significantly reduce your premiums:
- Increase your deductible from $500 to $1,000. (Warning: only do this if you have saved at least $1,000 in your emergency fund to cover this cost!)
- Ask about multi-line discounts for moving your renters/homeowners insurance to the same company.
- Ask for a renewal discount.
- If you can afford it, ask for a discount for prepaying your policy for an entire year.
- Ask about removing small provisions in your policy, such as roadside assistance, especially if your credit card company already offers this.
- Ask about discounts based upon your occupation status and employer. These are rare, but it’s worth asking!
Case in point: I was recently in an accident, which caused my rates to change. By picking up the phone and negotiating, I was able to get my rates reduced significantly – and I even added a modest umbrella policy to further protect our family from liability!
2. Reduce Your Cable Package or Cut the Cord
Ever met anyone who is happy to be sending massive portions of their paycheck out to cover cable and internet? I didn’t think so.
The good news is that your cable and internet rates, just like car insurance, are 100% negotiable. Yes, it may be harder to get a good deal than it was a few years ago, but you’ve got this.
Start by picking up the phone, calling your provider, and following the prompts to the cancellation department. This sounds scary, I know, but stick with me.
Tell the representative that you are a longtime loyal customer who is having trouble paying your current bill. Then ask if they have any current promotions to help you reduce your bill for the next year. Here’s the important part: be quiet and let the rep talk at this point.
Cancellation department representatives are focused on one thing: making sure that you don’t cancel. After all, it is much more expensive for cable companies to acquire new customers than retain current ones. As a result, they have flexibility to offer deals that other department representatives just can’t offer.
If your representative doesn’t offer a good deal, ask them to check again or give you a new customer rate to reward your loyalty. If they can’t/won’t do it, you have two options: call back another day and try again OR cancel your service.
With plenty of other streaming options out there today – Hulu, SlingTV, and PlayStation Vue, to name a few – rest assured that you DO have options if you decide to cut the cord. You could even do a test run and take advantage of free trials.
3. Cancel your unused subscriptions
How often do you really go the gym, read the newspaper or magazine you “can’t live without,” or listen to Pandora Premium? These unused (or little used) subscriptions could be costing you hundreds of dollars per year.
The problem: few people have the time to make the necessary calls to cancel these unused services. And since it is much easier to allow the charges to keep recurring, most people just ignore them.
If you’re feeling unmotivated and just want someone (or something) to take care of these unwanted services, you need Trim.
When you sign-up and create your own secure account, Trim will get to work and help you find several ways you can save more money. Additionally, it will help you monitor your recent spending, find better rates on the services you do use, and can even cancel subscriptions you no longer want or need.
You can learn more about Trim here.
Is Saving A Few Hundred Dollars Worth Your Time?
Before you close out of this article and get back to surfing and scrolling the web, ask yourself this question: if I really acted on what I just read, would it would be worth my time?
If you want to keep doing the same old things, that’s cool. But if you’re serious about adopting budgeting tips that will actually help you save hundreds of dollars in very little time, the three tips above are a great place to start. They helped me and my wife save hundreds of dollars of our own, and I’m confident they can help you, too.
Have you tried any of these tips? Tell us about your experience in the comments section below!