Summer is almost here and we’re not gonna lie - we’ve been doing the countdown too. It’s a chance to bask in sun, recover from the hustle and bustle of the busy school year, and hopefully get away for a little R&R. But it’s also a time when your spending could get a little out of hand. Hey, no judgments here – we’re guilty of doing it too. In light of this confession, we thought we’d share a few easy ways to save money this summer.
1. Check for available auto insurance discounts.
Most insurers offer discounts for standard issue features like anti-lock brakes, anti-theft systems, side-air bags, etc. But look deeper and there are other savings available, such as: good student discount (available for students who maintain a B+ average or better), defensive driving discount (who knew it was more than just a way to avoid surcharges from a speeding ticket), safe driver discounts (for being accident free), affinity discounts (club memberships, like AAA and AARP) and employment discounts (military, first responders, educators, etc.) It’s worth your time to give your insurance agent a call to see what discounts are available to you.
2. Cancel unused memberships.
True story – one of our staff members forgot she was signed up for an HBO Now 7-day trial and then paid $16 for a monthly membership - for four months! Sound familiar? Most of us are signed up for memberships that we don’t use, and often they are set up to auto draft your checking account each month. If you don’t use them – or say you are going to cancel them and then don’t - you are just throwing money away. The obvious ones might be gym memberships or music and television streaming services. But less obvious ones include warehouse shopping clubs, credit cards with annual fees, etc. Looking for an easy way to wrestle these beasts? Try a subscription monitoring app that will keep track of all monthly drafts and renewal dates.
3. Remove credit card numbers from online accounts
Not only is it an unsafe practice to allow websites to remember your payment method for next time - it also makes impulse purchases very easy. Having to manually enter your credit card number for an online purchase evokes some of the emotions of paying with cash because it makes you think about the spend more thoughtfully.
4. Do your own shopping.
Sure, the convenience of having someone else do your grocery shopping for you or having them delivered to your door is a luxury like none other, especially with the delicate balance of working full-time and managing a household. However, these services mark-up prices anywhere from 3-8% per item, and often include convenience and delivery fees as well. Consider doing your own shopping to save a few extra bucks.
5. Consider Term Life Insurance.
Term life insurance provides coverage for a set period of time, in the event of your death, and after that you reach that term, it expires. It’s perfect for people with young families who want to ensure that their dependents would still have a way to pay for things like a mortgage or college. While there is no cash payout like there is with whole life insurance, the premiums are often a fraction of the cost. For example, a $250,000 whole life policy for a 30-year-old female averages about $2,150 a year in premiums; for a 30-year term policy of the same amount, the premium averages only $194 a year. The difference in cost between the two policies over 30 years is over $58,000! Check it out.
6. Cancel magazine subscriptions.
How many magazines do we have piled up on our coffee table that we haven’t read over the last few months? We don’t want to talk about it. Plus, you can always use the internet to browse these magazine sites for free!
7. Auto shopping? Don’t overlook pre-owned.
We hate to tell you, but a shiny brand-new car is not your best investment. You already know it drops in value the minute you drive off the lot, so why not look at a gently used one that comes with a comprehensive warranty? Check out AutoSMART, a feature that allows you to browse inventory and pricing in a pressure-free environment.
Find an approved contractor from the list and schedule an appointment. The contractor will check your home for adequate weatherization, check A/C duct works for leaks, and provide a list of things you can do to reduce your energy costs.
9. Avoid ATM fees.
EFFCU is a member of the Shared Branching Network which allows you to access cash at an ATM fee free at over 30,000 locations nationwide. You can also find a nearby location by texting the phrase “Zip Code” to 91989.
10. Refinance your auto or personal loan.
Interest rates fluctuate, so it’s a good idea to check at least once a year to make sure you are getting the best one available to you. It’s super easy to check rates, and unlike mortgages, there aren’t typically costs associated with refinancing this type of loan.
11. If you are paying for a checking account, it’s time to kick that bad habit to the curb
Unless you are a business, there is no reason you should be paying a fee for a basic, run-of-the-mill checking account. Our personal checking accounts come with 24/7 online access, free Bill Pay and the convenient option to deposit checks via mobile device.
12. Negotiate medical bills.
Gone are the days when health insurance covered all the costs of outpatient testing, surgery and hospitalization. When scheduling diagnostic tests, call around for the best price (yes, different facilities have different prices) and ask about their cash pay price. Sometimes it makes sense to go this route, even if it means it will not count towards your deductible. And if you have a balance due, call to see if they offer a settlement price. Often times, hospitals will offer a reduced payoff amount in order to be paid in full rather than bet on receiving monthly payments until the account is paid in full.
13. Search for airfare in a private browser session.
Let’s face it, Google knows us better than we know ourselves, and that information is shared with a countless number of their partners. If you are searching for airfare in a non-private session, the search engine remembers your preferences and will continue to deliver results in the same price range. What’s the solution? Search in a private tab. Before you ask how to do that – we’ve already got an answer. Check out how to search in a private browser here.
14. Ditch the storage unit.
We’re trained to hang on to “stuff” - stuff that can’t fit in our own homes, but for some reason we feel like we can’t live without. Well guess what, if you aren’t living with it every day, you are already living without it. Clean out the storage unit and have a yard sale. Not only will you pick up a few extra bucks from selling stuff you don’t use, but you’ll also save upwards of $100 a month in storage unit fees.
15. Save smart.
If you’re committed to saving and have money sitting in a low-interest rate savings account, consider a Share Certificate. Education First offers a short-term solution for anyone struggling with commitment issues.