Although the stock market may be breaking records and Bitcoin approaches (gasp!) $20,000, many of us living in apartments in Philadelphia are simply trying to stretch our dollars and keep our debt as low as possible, especially after the holidays when credit card bills are coming due — a reckoning for the egg nog induced shopping frenzy of the previous weeks.
The following tips from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC), offer easy ways to save after the holidays:Empty the change in your pocket into a jar each night. Pocket change can add up to between $30 and $50 a month.
Eliminate $5 a day out of your incidental spending. Mindless spending and impulse shopping take a bigger chunk out of your spending than you might care to admit.
Resolve to carve $10 a month from each of five discretionary spending categories. For example:
Food: plan menus in advance and never grocery shop when hungry or in a rush
Eating out: order water to drink when dining at a restaurant (your waistline and your wallet will thank you later).
Utilities: lower the thermostat at home in the winter and raise it in the summer.
Shopping: stay out of malls, and shop only when an item is needed AND on sale.
Medical: make sure you have insurance or sign up for one of the discount drug plans.
Kick your bad habits. Buying a pack of cigarettes and a lottery ticket each day can add up
Eliminate bank fees. Bank with an institution that has ATMs near where you live in Philadelphia and work, eliminating any fees assessed by using a machine outside of your network. Don’t pay for your checking account when many banks offer free checking with few strings attached. Never overdraw your account.
Get an insurance check‐up. You don’t want to be over‐insured or underinsured, but if you can handle raising your deductible, it will save you money each month.
Don’t have too much of a good thing. Examine your cell phone package. Are you near the end of your contract or have you looked at competitors’ offerings? Look at your cable plan. Are you paying for channels you never watch (we love our HBO too, but 2 years between Game of Thrones is a lot of months of payments if that is your only show)?
Switching to a plan that is right for you yields big savings or “cut the chord” completely.
Stop charging and pay with cash. Studies show that people who pay for their purchases with cash typically save about 20 percent. Therefore, if you put $1,000 onto a charge card each month, you stand to save big bucks.
For professional help finding hidden money in your budget, call a National Foundation for Credit Counseling member agency. To locate the counselor closest to you, dial (800) 388‐2227, or go online to https://www.nfcc.org/. To find a Spanish‐speaking counselor, call (800) 682‐9832.