The dollar does not go as far as it once did when it comes to paying for goods and services. According to a recent study by the Census Bureau, the typical American family’s income, after adjusting for inflation, is roughly back where it was in 1996.
That is a staggering statistic but one that may not be too surprising to most of us. A lot of Americans lost their high-paying jobs and need to think about adjusting their spending habits accordingly. Learn how to stop wasting your hard earned money and start spending your money more wisely.
1. Stop Paying ATM and Overdraft Fees
It is not bad enough that when we use a bank that is not ours, we get charged an ATM fee, but then our own bank turns around and charges us a fee. These little fees every month add up to hundreds of dollars in a year, which is a lot of wasted money. To avoid these fees, become more ATM savvy and use only ATMs that are in your network. And, talk to your banking professional about ways to eliminate fees by maybe opening a different account or keeping a balance in an account. Just a little more attention to your banking habits can mean big savings in ATM fees.
The same holds true for overdraft fees. This is a fee that can be completely avoided by keeping a “cushion” in a savings account, having your employer use direct deposit for your payroll, and taking advantage of internet access to your accounts so you can monitor them better. You might also want to consider signing up for some type of overdraft protection program with your bank.
2. Why Buy New When Used Will Do
From cars to clothes there is nothing you can’t buy used. There are numerous websites, such as eBay and Craigslist, just to name a few, that specialize in selling used stuff. You can even barter for things. In this economy, there are a lot of people trying to get rid of their “stuff” either because they need the money or they are losing their homes to foreclosure. Look for local garage sales online or through Facebook Marketplace and visit local thrift stores. You can get gently used furniture, clothes, toys, or appliances for a fraction of the cost of buying new.
3. Negotiate a Better Deal and Save Money
One of the easiest ways to save money is to simply ask for a better deal. You are not going to go into a car dealer and pay sticker price, right? So why not apply your negotiation skills to other vendors, such as, doctors, lawyers, that lady selling purses on the street corner, or the person in charge of the garage sale. All they can do is say “No” and if they do, you can always take your business elsewhere. There are a lot of companies and people out there who need the revenue and will be willing to make a deal with you.
4. Buy Generic Brands
Why pay for name brands when generics will do? Have you ever noticed all the store brands when you are walking down the grocery store aisle — they look just the same as the name-brand items but at a fraction of the cost. Does it really matter if you use Heinz ketchup? Why not use the store brand and save a buck or two.
The same can be said for prescriptions. Most medications come in a generic brand and are far less expensive than the name brand. Just make sure to check with your doctor first before you use the generic brand just to make sure there are no side effects.
5. Buy a Smaller House
Right now, the average American house is twice the size it was 50 years ago. It seems as family size got smaller, the houses got bigger. A bigger house means more furniture, higher utilities, more upkeep, and more “stuff” to buy to put in it. Ever notice the more room you have the more you buy — whether you need it or not. Three-car garage, why not fill the one space with more junk you don’t need. You will be a garage sale waiting to happen.
6. Don’t Pay Interest on Credit Cards — Pay With Cash
Using someone else’s money, like a bank or credit union, costs you more money in the long run in interest payments. Learn to pay with cash when you can and pay off the balances on those charge cards if you do happen to use them. If you have to make a large purchase, such as an appliance or car, make sure to get the lowest interest rate you can. This comes back to negotiating a better interest rate or tell them you will take your business elsewhere. You will be surprised by how accommodating a vendor can be!
Using some of these helpful tips will make your hard-earned money stretch a little further. You are already working too hard to make money, so don’t blow it on frivolous purchases when there are cheaper alternatives available.