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How to Drastically Cut Expenses

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In the week that ended on March 28th, a record 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. That’s a 3,000% surge since early March, and it just goes to show how devastating coronavirus has been to our economy and particularly non-essential industries like retail, hospitality, and travel.

As we all know by now, closing everything comes at a huge cost for businesses and people who work in non-essential and essential jobs. While millions have been financially devastated already, even those who manage to stay employed throughout this disaster could be required to take a major cut in pay.

You may not have the freedom to run out for a $5 coffee every day, but facing a loss in income — or having to worry about losing your job — can easily make you feel like all the walls are closing in. Fortunately, you do have some power when it comes to saving your financial future. By cutting your expenses, you can make your money last longer or build an emergency fund that can help you sleep better at night.

As a side note, if you’ve already lost your job and you need access to some money to pay bills in a hurry, there are plenty of ways to make money fast. And if you’re able to cut your expenses and earn some money on the side, you’ll be even better off.

15 Ways to Cut Expenses Right Now

Cutting your expenses comes with huge benefits for your finances, mostly because this strategy allows you to get by while earning less. And if you do wind up losing your job, having lower expenses will allow you to stretch your emergency savings as far as they can go.

If you’re wondering about the best ways to cut your expenses for maximum effect, here are some of the most important strategies to consider implementing right away.

Refinance Your Mortgage

Today’s record-breaking interest rates can also help you save big if you’re able to refinance your mortgage. Further, the best mortgage refinance companies of 2020 offer exceptionally low rates and quick closings that can even take place in your home.

With Amerisave, for example, you can get a look at updated interest rates and get-prequalified in three minutes without giving your Social Security number or enduring a hard inquiry on your credit report. Amerisave even offers “no fee” refinance options that let you wrap your loan costs into your new loan in exchange for a higher rate than the lowest advertised rate.

Keep in mind that refinancing your mortgage can help you secure a lower monthly payment, lower interest costs over the long haul, or both. However, you do need to have an income to qualify for a new home loan.

Refinance Student Loans and Score a Lower APR

Interest rates are once again hovering near all-time lows, which makes now a great time to refinance your debts if you have the income to qualify. With student loan refinancing, for example, you can refinance federal or private student loans with a new lender that might offer you a lower interest rate, a lower monthly payment, or both. Just remember that you’re giving up federal benefits like deferment, forbearance, and income-driven repayment plans if you refinance federal loans with a private lender.

Where should you consider refinancing your student loans? The best student loan refinance companies offer low interest rates and low fees (or no fees) for qualified buyers, so make sure to compare all of your options. Some student loan refinancing lenders can offer rates that are much lower than you could get with federal student loans, although you do need good credit or a cosigner to qualify.

Consider a 0% APR Credit Card or Debt Consolidation Loan

If you have credit card debt that’s lingering at a high interest rate, you can also consider a new loan or credit card that can help you save. With a 0% APR credit card, you can secure 0% APR for anywhere from 12 to 21 months, although a 3% or 5% balance transfer fee normally applies. Still, you can secure considerable interest savings even after paying a balance transfer fee. After all, avoiding interest on your credit cards for a year or more could help you avoid paying exorbitant interest rates during your credit card’s introductory offer and you get the benefit of paying down debt faster.

A debt consolidation or personal loan can also help you consolidate and pay off credit card debt faster while saving money. Many debt consolidation loans come with rates as low as 5.99%, which is significantly lower than the rates credit cards charge.

How much can you save with a personal loan? That depends on how much debt you have and your current interest rate, but consider this example.

Imagine you have $10,000 in credit card debt with an APR of 18%. If you were able to pay $250 per month, you would pay this amount down over 62 months and fork over $5,386 in interest in the process.

Now imagine you found personal loan rates as low as 5.99% on a five-year personal loan. With this rate and the same amount of debt, you could pay just $193 per month for five years, and your total interest paid would only be $1,596. That’s a savings of more than $50 per month and almost $3,800 over five years.

Ask Your Credit Card Issuer for a Lower Interest Rate

If you have credit card debt but you can’t qualify for a debt consolidation loan or new credit card, also consider reaching out to your credit card issuer to ask them to reduce your rate. Many major banks have hardship programs for customers struggling with implications of coronavirus right now, so you may be surprised at what they can offer.

As an example, the American Express Financial Hardship program page says you may be able to qualify for a lower monthly payment, a lower interest rate, and other benefits if you simply call in and ask.

Shop Around for Insurance or Alter Your Current Policies

Many insurance providers are offering special rebates right now due to coronavirus, including refunds on a percentage of your auto insurance premiums. In fact, two insurers — Allstate and American Family Insurance — have already announced they’re giving $800 million back to customers this year. This only makes sense since most of us are hardly driving right now, if at all.

If your auto insurance company isn’t voluntarily offering this type of rebate, you should definitely call and ask. In the meantime, spend some time getting quotes and comparing pricing for other auto insurance policies as well as homeowners insurance or renter’s insurance.

Remember that you’ll save the most money if you spend time shopping for a lower price at least once per year. Also consider bundling multiple policies with one provider to save money, and ask about other discounts that may be available.

Get Rid of Subscriptions You Don’t Need

Tons of new subscription services have become available over the last decade, but you may not want to continue paying for ones you don’t necessarily need. While you can go through your credit card bills to see what you’re subscribed to manually, a service like Trim can do the grunt work for you.

Not only does Trim negotiate cable, internet, phone, and medical bills, but it cancels old subscriptions you’re not even using. The app also analyzes your spending patterns to figure out steps you can take to save even more. Best of all, signing up for an account with Trim is 100% free.

Also check out TrueBill, which is another service that helps you cancel subscriptions and save money. TrueBill also has a free option that lets you utilize some of the app benefits without paying a membership fee.

Cancel Memberships You’re Not Using

Also consider other memberships you could cut from your life, including gym memberships, massage memberships, or memberships to a wholesale club. Being locked down for weeks has drastically changed the way many of us live, and that’s especially true when it comes to places we would normally pay to belong to.

If you’re stuck at home, there’s no reason to continue paying for memberships you can’t even use for months at a time.

Switch to Streaming Television

Still paying for a pricey cable subscription? There are a ton of lower cost options to consider that will provide just as much entertainment value, ranging from Hulu Plus to YouTube TV.

If you’re ready to ditch cable television, make sure to figure out which services will provide the kind of television you watch the most. Netflix has an unlimited streaming option for $8.99 per month, and you can get Hulu starting at just $5.99 per month. With these two options alone, you should have access to more television and movies than you could ever feasibly watch.

Cook at Home and Avoid Takeout

Even if you’re someone who loves cooking at home, there’s still the temptation to order takeout in areas where restaurants can remain open for carry-out and delivery. If you want to save money, make sure to limit takeout dining to only a few times per week.

Having extra time at home is the perfect opportunity to learn new cooking techniques or try new recipes anyway, so make sure to take advantage. At the very least, stick to the core staple meals you already know how to cook and spend time in the kitchen at least five nights per week.

Create a Meal Plan and Stick to It

Creating a meal plan can also help you stay on track with your food savings goals, and that’s especially true if you’re ordering groceries for delivery through a service like Shipt or Instacart. Spend some time figuring out the main ingredients you need for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the week, leaving a few days open to eat leftovers. From there, craft a grocery list that includes the ingredients you need and nothing more.

Having a meal plan will ensure you’re not buying convenience foods or ordering takeout because none of the ingredients you have go together for a meal.

Consider a Discount Cell Phone Service

If you are paying a premium for a luxury cell phone plan, now is an excellent time to look for a cheaper alternative. With Ting, for example, you only pay for the cell phone service you actually use, and a single cell phone line starts at just $6 per month. If you added on 100 minutes of talk, up to 1,000 texts, and up to 500MB of data for the month, your monthly cell phone bill would only be $24.

Make sure to consider other discount cell phone providers in your area so you can find the coverage you need for a much lower cost.

Shop Around for Cheaper Internet

Also check for cheaper internet options in your area, although companies that provide service regionally can vary quite a bit. Major players on the scene include Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon Wireless, but make sure to check out satellite internet options like DISH Network.

Stop Shopping Online

Online shopping is becoming extremely convenient and easy, and those purchases can add up surprisingly fast.

If you’re worried about your online shopping bill, one step you can take now is removing your credit card information from all your favorite shopping sites. Yes, this means removing your credit card bill from your Amazon Prime Account, as well as your Walmart shopping account, your Boxed.com account, and any other websites you like to browse when you’re bored.

When you force yourself to enter your credit card details manually for each purchase, you’re bound to think twice about your spending and save money over time.

Use Apps to Earn Cash Back

If you do have to buy items online, make sure you’re using coupon codes or cashback portals to maximize your necessary spending. Rakuten is a great website to use if you want to earn cash rewards on shopping, and so is the Dosh app.

Also check out MyPoints and Ibotta, both of which let you earn rewards when you buy stuff you need at participating online stores.

Give Up Habits Like Smoking and Drinking

Finally, give up pricey habits like smoking and drinking. Both can lead to negative results for your health over the long haul, and both come with considerable financial costs as well.

Instead of smoking or drinking, try to pick up new habits that can improve your life while you save money. Invest your cigarette savings in a new FitBit and start walking 10,000+ steps per day, or pick up a new hobby you can do at home like woodworking or gardening.

The Bottom Line

Whether you have lost your job or simply worry you might, cutting your expenses right now is probably a smart move. Lower expenses will help you save more money at a time when cash is king, and having lower expenses can also make your savings last longer if you do wind up losing your job.

Times are tough right now, but you do have some power to control the financial impact of coronavirus. Cutting your expenses is one piece of the puzzle, but make sure to look for ways to boost your income, too.

The post How to Drastically Cut Expenses appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.



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8 Best Budgeting and Personal Finance Tools

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Taking control of your personal finances is simple in theory. But if you’re struggling with budgeting, saving, or investing, trying a new tool may be the ticket to making better decisions and improving your success.

Here are eight of the best personal finance tools to make sense of your money, stay organized, and achieve your financial goals.

8 Best Budgeting and Personal Finance Tools

Keep reading to learn more about each of these budgeting and personal finance tools.

1. Quicken

Quicken has been around a long time and is considered the gold standard in personal finance software. They have a suite of products that connect to multiple types of accounts, such as banks, credit cards, lenders, and investments, to aggregate your transactions.

Like many companies, they’ve moved to a subscription model where you pay an annual fee and get automatic updates for new features and services.

The Starter version gives you a lot, including automatic expense categorization, limited budget tracking, and a bill dashboard, for $35 per year. Upgrading to Deluxe ($50) or Premier ($75) gives you the Starter features plus customizable budgeting, loan tracking, investment tracking and analysis, bill pay, and online backup.

Quicken has far more features than I’ll ever use, but it’s my favorite way to manage money.

You can use Quicken on your PC or Mac, but PC users can also get a Home & Business version for $100 per year. It helps you manage a small business or freelance work by separating personal and business expenses, emailing custom invoices with payment links, and tracking business tax deductions.

You can enter transactions manually into Quicken if you don’t want to connect to your financial accounts online. And there are Quicken mobile apps to sync up with your desktop version, although you can’t see all your data.

Quicken has far more features than I’ll ever use, but it’s my favorite way to manage money. Every week I import new transactions and make sure they’re categorized correctly, especially those related to taxes, so I can easily create reports at tax time.

2. Mint

Mint is one of the original web-based personal finance management programs. It’s free to sign up and connect your financial accounts, such as a bank, credit card, loans, and investments through an easy-to-use dashboard.  

The Mint mobile app has a lot of functionality, allowing you to check account balances and monthly budgets.

Once Mint…

Keep reading on Quick and Dirty Tips



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Future inheritance.. need help!

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Hey all, i’m a 22yr old living in the US. I’ll start off by saying that I have no current debt, credit score is 785, currently don’t have a job and don’t have much saved.

This might be long but i’ll try to make this as short as I can. I’ve lived with my mom, lil brother, and grandparents pretty much my whole life. Mom had a very bad drug addiction, decided to move out with my girlfriend when I was 18. The following year my mother happens to pass due to overdose, she didn’t have any money to her name so no assets were given. 3 months later my grandma passed away from lung cancer and all her assets were transferred to my grandpa. My grandpa had throat cancer 10 years ago and had to get his voice box removed, so now he breathes through his neck stoma. My girlfriend and I decided to move back home a few years ago to help support and take care of my grandpa (pretty much his care taker) and my little brother (his dad is barely in his life). As time has progressed, my grandpa is having breathing issues and can’t get around as easy anymore. I’m now worried that something will happen in the near future and i’m a little lost when it comes to the assets he has.

My grandpa has a will set up for me and my brother to split everything 50/50 and I’m the primary beneficiary, he said that I will have control of his part of the assets until he is 21 (he’s 14 now). Paperwork and everything is already signed. He will be passing on the house that we currently live in and all of his stocks.

The mortgage for the house is paid off, and there are two IRA accounts. The house is worth about $400,000. I believe the first is a traditional IRA with a little over $300,000 in it. The second is an IRA Roth with about $100,000. We have a “money manager” through JP Morgan who manages all of the stocks, and my grandpa has it set up so that he receives $1,000 a month from it.

Now I have multiple questions. I know the market is up and down everyday, but say that the current assets were to be passed on..

• Will I take over his current IRA accounts or will I have to create my own and transfer the funds to that?

• Do I have to withdraw the money by a certain time point or can I just let it sit?

• When filing taxes at the end of the year, will I owe anything since I would be coming into a lump some of money?

• How much would be taken out in taxes when it is distributed to us?

• When filing taxes at the end of the year, will I owe anything since I would be coming into a lump some of money? Also what tax bracket would I be in?

• Should I keep the money manager and keep the current ways that my grandpa has set up?

• My brother and I have agreed to keep the house but we would like to renovate it when the time comes. Say the renovation will cost $50,000. Would I take $64,000 out of the traditional IRA (withhold $14,000 for taxes) or take the money out of the IRA roth so it’s tax free?

I know this is quite a bit and I feel as if I have a huge weight on my shoulders, but i’m trying to have a better understanding of how this works..

Thanks to all in advance!

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Why Save Money Now? 9 Reasons That Will Help You Start Saving

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Learning to save money is one of the best things you can do for yourself. 

Saving money can help you prepare for emergencies, start a business, retire, and more.

Financial security is one of the best reasons for why you should save money, and being prepared financially is one of the best feelings in the world. You can travel more, pursue your passions, quit a job you don’t love, try new things, and more.

But, I hear over and over again from people that they don’t want to save money now because they think they have the rest of their life to do so.

However, that’s far from true, especially if you want to be prepared for emergencies or retire.

When you decide to start saving money now, you will be ready to live the rest of your life. 

You can take chances, try new things, and be ready in case something awful were to happen. Saving money gives you the freedom to worry less and live more.

Now, there are some situations when people do have a harder time saving money. Maybe you are living paycheck to paycheck, are working to eliminate high amounts of debt, etc. 

Even though learning to save money can be hard, small amounts of money add up over time, and this is very true when you start now. Plus, there are lots of great ways to make extra money to make saving now easier.

Saving money takes discipline and some people may need to take extreme measures, but starting to save money now is one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Related content:

Below is why you should save money even if you think you have the rest of your life to do so.

 

Learning a good savings routine now will help you later.

One of the top reasons for why many don’t start saving now and/or invest for retirement is because they claim that they don’t know how. Yes, it might feel overwhelming in the beginning – how to start investing, where to save your money, etc. But, these are things you can learn so it doesn’t have to be hard.

Once you get over the hump of getting started, you can create a routine where you regularly make contributions to a savings account or a retirement account. There are even investing and savings apps available to automate the process for you.

Acorns is a popular micro investing app that you can use to schedule deposits into your investment account – even just $5 at a time. You can also set up Acorns to round up transactions from a linked card to invest passively.

However you start to save and invest now and the sooner you do it, the more it becomes a habit and the easier it will become. By saving money as soon as you can, you will learn good financial habits that will help you well into the future.

Learn how to start investing at How To Start Investing With Little Money

 

You don’t need as much money as you think.

More and more people are choosing to live a minimalist lifestyle because they have realized that less is more. These people are living in smaller houses, not buying as much stuff, and being more thoughtful when they do make purchases.

These choices can lead to significantly spending less money on things, which makes it easier to save your money.

Now, leading a minimalist lifestyle isn’t for everyone. But, material items do not always equal happiness. Sometimes they just add stress, debt, and more. Think about it – the more stuff you have, the more likely that something will break, something will get lost or tossed to the side, and so on.

And if you think about the fact that the average household has 300,000 items (not a typo), that’s a lot of money spent on stuff.

However, do we actually need all of that stuff?

Probably not.

Spending money on a bunch of unnecessary stuff does not mean that you will have a higher level of happiness than someone else.

When you learn to live with less, you will find that you don’t need as much money as you thought.

Related: How A Minimalist Lifestyle Can Bring You Happiness 

 

An enjoyable life doesn’t have to be expensive.

One of the other things I hear about saving money is that it’s boring.

Yes, I have heard that if you are saving your money that you’re having no fun. In fact, here are a few myths I’ve heard about saving:

  • “I can’t save money because that means I’ll just be eating rice and beans and sitting on my couch all day long.”
  • “That person is only able to save money because they have a boring life.”
  • “I’d rather enjoy my life now and worry about saving money when I’m old.”

These are not true, at all. You know what they say when a person complains about being bored – that they are actually a boring person.

If you think spending money rather than saving money will lead to happiness, then you need to change your mindset.

Life is all about a comfortable balance. You can save money, spend money, and have an enjoyable life. It’s not one or the other. And, really, it’s all about knowing what you can actually afford and thinking about whether buying something will actually benefit your life.

There are plenty of ways to live an awesome life while saving money. Yes, you can still see your friends, have fun with your loved ones, go on vacations, and more, all while staying on a realistic budget.

Instead of going out to eat three to four times a week, you can prepare meals with friends or family or host a potluck.

Instead of taking an expensive vacation, you can do a roadtrip or plan a staycation.

Instead of spending lots of money on an expensive weekend out with your friends or significant other, you can go for a hike, bike ride, and more.

There are so many ways to have fun for free or cheap, and finding new ideas now can help you start to save money.

Related: 

 

Compound interest matters.

Learning how to save your money is a wonderful thing, especially if you start investing. When it comes to investing, time is on your side because of the powerful impact of compound interest.

Compound interest is one important reason for why you should start to save your money now instead of waiting until you are older.

To put it simply, compound interest is when your interest is earning interest. This can then turn the amount of money you have saved into a much larger amount years later.

This is important to note because of inflation – $100 today will not be worth $100 in the future if you just let it sit under a mattress or in a checking account. However, if you invest, you can actually turn your $100 into something more. Investing for the long term means your money is working for you, potentially earning you an income.

For example: If you put $1,000 into a retirement account that has an annual 8% return, 40 years later that would turn into $21,724. If you started with that same $1,000 and put an extra $1,000 in it for the next 40 years at an annual 8% return, that would then turn into $301,505. If you started with $10,000 and put an extra $10,000 in it for the next 40 years at that same percentage rate, that would then turn into $3,015,055.

Side note: I recommend you check out Personal Capital if you are interested in gaining control of your financial situation. Personal Capital is similar to Mint.com, but much better. Personal Capital is free and it allows you to aggregate your financial accounts so that you can easily see your whole financial situation, including investments.

Related content:

 

There’s no need to waste money just because you can.

There is no reason to spend all of your money just because you are able to. In my opinion, finding ways to save money will bring you greater security and peace of mind.

I’ve heard of people (even many who are close to me) say, “If I have money, I’ll spend all of it.”

If you decided to save your money rather than spend the last bits of it until your next paycheck, you will be on the road to saving more in the long run, meaning you can start to break free from a paycheck to paycheck lifestyle.

Even if you are only able to save a small amount, that is much better than not saving anything.

Like I said above, time and compound interest are both on your side, and this can turn the small amount of money you have saved into a much larger amount.

Related: 16 Alternatives To Cable TV That WILL Save You Money

 

Stop letting others dictate how you live your life.

One of the reasons that people spend more than they should (and save less now) is because it looks like that is what everyone else is doing.

We’ve all seen the pictures on Facebook or Instagram of a friend with their brand new car, someone on an amazing vacation, or in brand new clothes. But, just because other people have something, that doesn’t mean you need to as well.

You have no idea how someone paid for those things. Maybe they make more than you think, maybe it was a gift, or maybe they are going into debt to “afford” things.

You are the only one who gets to dictate how to spend your money. And you can choose to save instead of spending money on things to keep up with others.

In 10, 20, 30, or 40 years, you could be living a comfortable life without debt, not stuck in a job you hate, and be pursuing your passions. Doesn’t that sound so much better than a life of debt and comparison?

 

The less money you spend now, the less you need in the future.

By spending less money, you’ll decrease the amount of money you need in the future. This includes money for emergency funds, retirement, and more.

This will help you build your emergency fund quicker and reach retirement sooner.

Just think about it: If you are already living a frugal lifestyle, then you will be used to living on less in the future. This means your retirement savings doesn’t need to be as large, which means it may be easier to reach that savings goal.

Also, if you spend less money, you probably won’t need as much in your emergency fund, which can also help you fund that sooner!

When you spend less money now, you can save at a higher rate, and that means you can reach your goals that much faster!

For example, Mr. Money Mustache has a great graphic in his blog post The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement that shows you how your savings rate can dramatically impact when you’ll retire. For example:

  • Saving at the average personal savings rate of 5%, it will take you 66 working years until you reach retirement.
  • A 25% savings rate means it will take you 32 working years to retire.
  • A 50% savings rate means it will take you 17 working years to retire.
  • A 75% savings rate means it will take you 7 working years to retire.

So, by saving more of your money, you are likely to retire sooner. Sounds amazing, right?

 

There’s no guarantee that you’ll always have that income stream.

Time and time again, I hear from people that say they don’t need to save money now because they have a job.

Yes, you may feel safe and secure in your job, but the truth is that you never really know how long you’ll be making money or how long that job will last.

Many other people think, “But, I enjoy my job!”

While it’s great that you enjoy your job, you should still learn to save your money. Too many people think they can work forever because they love their job.

However, what happens when you can no longer work? You don’t know what the future will bring – you may encounter a medical problem, a serious life event, you may hate your job 20 years from now, and so on.

Why do people save money? One reason is because nothing is guaranteed.

So, instead of spending every last penny that you have, you should find ways to save more money.

Related: 12 Passive Income Ideas That Will Let You Enjoy Life More

 

 

The best things in life are free.

Stop for a second and think about your life. Do you have a friend you can count on? A family member who cares for you? A significant other to share your life with? Did a stranger hold the door open or offer you a smile? None of those things cost a dime.

Even if you just have one of these, you are still experiencing the happiness in life that comes free of charge.

There are so many free things in life to enjoy!

There are libraries, parks, free concerts, music on the radio, and more.

All of these amazing free things mean that you can stop spending as much and start to save money now.

Living a frugal life means you are taking advantage of what’s already around you. For some, this can be a hard mindset to get into, but when you realize you already have the most important things in life, you will realize that money isn’t the be all and end all.

There are many reasons to save money, and it’s never too late to start.

 

Starting to save money now will change your life.

Saving money is a mindset that you have to put yourself into. You have to make routines, make sacrifices, and change the way you spend money.

I know all of that is hard to do, but there is no greater feeling than being prepared.

And please don’t think that it’s too late to start saving. It’s never too late!

By learning to save at any age or stage of your life, you are making one of the smartest decisions you can for your future, even just a month or five years down the line.

What do you think? Do you think you should save money now? Or enjoy life and save later?

The post Why Save Money Now? 9 Reasons That Will Help You Start Saving appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.



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