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10/28/16 Minimalism , Saving # , ,

How I Save $1,000 Per Year With 3 Quick Phone Calls

How I Save $1,000 Per Year With 3 Quick Phone Calls

When I got laid off from my job eight years ago, one of the first things my wife and I did was look for ways to cut expenses. The monthly combined cable TV-landline phone-Internet bill stood out the most as an easy way to save $1,000.

Unfortunately, there weren’t many options to cutting the cable cord then, so we stuck with our monthly cable TV bill of around $100 for four more years until we finally got rid of it. We also eventually got rid of our landline phone, and now each have a cellphone.

So with two parts of the three-part cable company bill eliminated, that left us with only Internet service to pay for. It was a service we needed — I started working at home as a freelance writer and needed Internet access to work — so killing it wasn’t going to happen.

If the cost wasn’t going to be eliminated, the next-best thing to do was to negotiate a lower price with our Internet provider. It’s a task I took on with gusto, mainly because I like negotiating prices and getting a deal, but also because it just seemed like a ripoff to pay $80-something a month as a long-time customer when new customers were paying half that.

3 phone calls per year

The negotiation is as simple as making a quick phone call that lasts about five minutes.

I call our Internet provider once a year and our newspaper twice a year for the lowest price each offers new customers. I have to call the New York Times and haggle twice a year because it only offers discounts for six months at a time. Continue reading

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10/01/15 Insurance , Saving # , ,

Can I Save Money Losing Weight?

Can I Save Money Losing Weight?

Too many visits to my doctor recently have convinced me it’s time to do something about a problem I’ve ignored for years: obesity.

I’m obese — according to BMI and the medical charts at my doctor’s office, and it’s a problem I haven’t wanted to come to terms with until now. Losing weight should help solve a lot of my medical problems, and as a personal finance writer, I’m wondering if losing weight will also help me save money.

My goal is to lose 50 pounds within the next 365 days — or about a pound a week. If I get there, I’ll still be overweight, but at least I won’t be as fat and will have a better starting point to hopefully someday get to a normal weight.

Unfortunately, I’m not alone. Nearly half of U.S. adults are expected to be obese by 2040, according to a report by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College.

Saving money with weight loss isn’t my ultimate goal, of course, but it gives me a bit more incentive and another angle to write about that readers may learn from.

While I’ve just started this year-long quest, there are some things about trying to lose weight and saving money that I’ve quickly come across, and others that I’ve researched. Here are some ways I hope to save money by losing weight: Continue reading

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03/05/15 Saving #

3 Ways to Start Saving Money Now

3 Ways to Start Saving Money Now

Personal financial management is a delicate balancing act. On one hand, you must provide for your family’s basic day-to-day needs, covering expenses ranging from food to phone bills. But you are also expected to find financial resources for major long-term commitments, like education, housing and transportation. For families living on the edge of affordability, finding proper equilibrium can be a challenging prospect.

When you are facing financial distress, there are two ways to attack the problem. Raising income, or leaning on loans and credit cards are common ways to overcome short-term cash flow difficulties. But trimming costs and streamlining your existing financial profile provides another reasonable approach, yielding surprising levels of savings. Money saving opportunities present themselves daily, so if you are committed to reducing your cost of living, consider these few tips as part of your comprehensive money management strategy.

Savings without sacrifice

Budgeting and domestic cost-cutting need not be an unpleasant undertaking. And saving money does not necessarily entail major lifestyle adjustments and sacrifices, provided the efforts are focused and you maintain realistic expectations. Low-impact savings measures provide a perfect starting point for repairing holes in your family budget, yielding the most accessible results. For even more money saving tips and information about budgeting and personal finance, is a great resource.

To prove the power of frugal choices, ask each family member to identify a regular expense they might target for trimming. Your daily coffee is likely worth quite a bit of money each month, if eliminated, and even switching to home-brewed coffee saves hundreds each year. And adjustments to clothes budgets are perfect ways for children to contribute to savings. The idea is to avoid uncomfortable budget cuts, by serving-up the most agreeable forms of saving.

In addition to changing spending impulses, trimming waste throughout your household leads to immediate savings. From excess petrol use and other unnecessary energy spending, to spoiled food and poor supermarket choices, waste runs rampant through most households. By tightening your belt on savings and addressing wasteful spending, you’ll feel immediate cost of living relief.

Save ahead for major buys

Too often, our wants and needs get ahead of our ability to pay for them. Of course, financing is an important and necessary part of personal money management, but there is no cause for overpaying on interest and credit fees. To keep financing costs within reason, it is essential to borrow within your means. In other words; save in advance for major purchases, rather than maxing-out credit lines and blowing-up financing fees.

Strategic financing applies to cars, homes and any other items you’ll be paying-off for a long time. When anticipating these major buys, set savings goals for yourself, to accumulate the proper mortgage deposits and car loan down payments. By covering substantial costs ahead of time, you’ll ultimately save on the amount of interest paid during the repayment period. And your term may also be shorter, enabling you to quickly satisfy repayment obligations. Even home improvements and family holidays fall into this category, when extra funds are needed to cover the expenses.

Negotiate rates at renewal

Contracts are commonly one-year in length, so they must be renewed annually. Each service in your budget furnishes a money saving opportunity at annual renewal time. TV contracts, mobile phone plans, energy services, insurance and even your mortgage are tied to terms you can negotiate. By blindly renewing contracts each period, you may be leaving money on the table.

Instead of sticking with the status quo, evaluate spending as renewals come due. Use online resources to compare loan rates, energy providers, and TV service promotions. Even if you end-up staying with the same provider, shopping the market gives you reference points to assess pricing. And rather than lose your business, many providers will match others’ rates — but not unless you take a proactive approach and ask them to do it.

Among others, these three money saving tactics assist families working to get ahead. Everyday cost-cutting isn’t unbearable, when each family member contributes his or her part. And as long as you save for major purchases, you are living within your means. To stay on track, always negotiate the best rates for goods and services, especially during contract renewal, when you have power to negotiate.

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01/20/15 Minimalism , Personal Finance # ,

Being a Pack Rat is Expensive

Being a Pack Rat is Expensive

If you’ve got a few closets, chances are they’re overfilled with things you rarely, if ever, use. You may not consider yourself a pack rat, but those full closets and garage, bulging cupboards and piles of things in every room are costing you money.

Here are a few ways that being a pack rat is more expensive than you might think:

Paying for storage

Even if your home is relatively cleared of excess belongings, if you’re paying a storage company to keep it, you’re paying for stuff that you probably won’t use again so you can keep your house clean.

A non-climate controlled self storage unit costs $1.12 per square foot, according to the Self Storage Association.  A 10-foot by 10-foot unit in the U.S. costs $115 per month for non-climate controlled, and $146 per month if climate controlled. Continue reading

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12/09/14 Children , Saving , Work # ,

Need Incentive to Save? Have a Baby

Need Incentive to Save? Have a Baby

If you’re going to have a baby, it’s easy to see that the costs far outweigh the return, at least financially. The annual cost of raising a child is about $13,000, as I’ve written before.

Expenses include housing, child care, education, transportation, food, healthcare and clothing. Then there’s all of your time spent cleaning up after them and shuttling them to school, playdates and activities. And remember that it’s time you’re not paid for.

The emotional rewards when you have a baby, of course, make the costs more than worthwhile.

An emotional incentive to save

But for anyone who wants to have a baby but is unsure they can afford it, consider the savings incentives. I’m not talking about the child tax credit of $1,000, which won’t buy you many diapers or baby clothes. I’m talking about the emotional incentive to save. Continue reading

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Hi, I'm Aaron Crowe. Welcome to CashSmarter. I'm a personal finance freelance writer who enjoys spending my money wisely and using minimalism to make my money last longer while increasing income.