Tax season usually brings with it a tightening of the belt, so to speak. But it doesn’t have to be a total downer; in fact, it can be an opportunity to revise your spending habits and get back on track financially.
Sometimes making big strides to get out of debt or beef up your savings account or retirement fund is a matter of taking many small steps, saving a bit of money here and there in ways that can add up in the long run. Here are 15 areas to focus on:
1. Utility Bills
2. Wireless Bill
If you’re like many Americans, you’re so attached to your phone it might as well be another appendage, but that doesn’t mean it has to cost you an arm and a leg. Between digging for hidden discounts, cutting contracts, and other smart-shopping strategies, we’ve got the hook-up on how to save money on your wireless phone bill.
A vacation for the average family of four can be an expensive venture, but there are ways to cut costs without sacrificing the family fun, whether you’re “staycationing” close to home or taking off for the slops on a faraway ski trip.
4. Airfare, Hotels and Rental Cars
Just getting to your vacation destination and having a decent place to stay can drain your hard-earned vacation fund. But with these simple strategies to maximize rewards programs, find the best hotel deals, bypass extra airline luggage fees, and cut costs at the rental counter, you could be on the road to your dream destination with some extra spending money.
5. Retail Purchases
A savvy shopper knows a good deal when they see one, but they also know Black Friday isn’t always the day to score the biggest savings off of retail prices. By researching what months offer the best times to buy certain products and how to take advantage of special events like sample sales, you can be a PhD (a Pretty Hot Deal-finder) in no time.
Adding a new little person to the family can be a shock to the system—and the wallet—of any new parent. Luckily, with a little creative budgeting and these tried-and-true tips from parents who have paved the way to financial freedom, at least it won’t be money woes keeping you up at night.
It’s been said the only certainties in life are death and taxes, but perhaps fluctuating gas prices should be added to that list. By maximizing your gas mileage and being strategic about your fill-ups, you can help minimize the impact on your wallet.
8. Car Buying
Fact: A new car can depreciate in value approximately 10 percent the moment you drive it off the lot, according to CARFAX, and another 10 percent by the end of its first year. That’s why many consumers find it more economical to purchase a used car, as long as it’s in good shape. But how do you know where to look? The GEICO Car Buying Service, an online tool powered by TrueCar, makes it easy to see what others paid for the car you’re looking for, save time and money at the dealership, and feel confident in your car buying experience.
9. Car Maintenance
Keeping your car running in tip-top shape by performing routine preventative maintenance can help save you from costly repair bills down the line. You could save even more by washing your car by hand instead of going through the neighborhood car wash. And while major car maintenance tasks are best done by a professional mechanic, there are certain minor maintenance items you can learn to do yourself.
10. Moving Expenses
Whether you’re moving off-campus and into your first apartment, you’re an empty-nester downsizing to a smaller home, or an excited first-time home buyer, you can ease the transition with these tips for cutting moving costs.
11. Home Improvement
One thing first-time home buyers find out is that the costs of maintaining and upgrading a home can add up quickly and do deep financial damage to that hard-fought savings account. Thankfully, there are many ways to save money by DIY-ing the painting, minor home improvements and other easy home maintenance tasks.
12. Groceries and Meal Prep
Food is one of those expenses it’s difficult to cut back on since, let’s face it, it’s a survival essential. But $1 hamburgers at the drive-thru and ramen noodles aren’t exactly sustainable alternatives. The good news is there are ways to save on groceries through bulk shopping, growing your own herbs, taking advantage of the local farmers’ market, and investing in kitchen tools that could save you money in the long run.
13. Date Night
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean you need a platinum card to have a stellar date night. These creative and affordable date ideas could turn even a pauper into a prince.
14. Wedding Expenses
Did you know the average cost of a wedding in the U.S. was over $33,000 in 2017? No wonder couples often suffer from sticker shock during the wedding planning. For some soon-to-be-newlyweds, it’s a choice between saving for the future and investing in their dream nuptials. That’s where savvy budget planning can come in handy. From the engagement ring all the way to “I Do,” there are ways to save on wedding expenses without having to sacrifice the wedding of your dreams.
15. Car Insurance
Of course, one of the quickest ways you could save money is by switching your car insurance to GEICO. After all, it only takes 15 minutes to get a quote, and new GEICO customers report saving an average of over $500 a year. At GEICO, we work hard to keep rates as low as possible. Ask about discounts for anti-theft systems, good driving records, and special discounts members of the Military and certain alumni and professional organizations. Plus, in certain states you could save with a multi-policy discount on your auto insurance when you insure your home through the GEICO Insurance Agency.
Next: Are you a savvy saver? Take our quiz to find out.
By K. Bothwell