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10 Tips for Saving Money

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In a changing economy, your carefully planned budget can be disrupted by unexpected costs like rising fuel or grocery prices. The good news? Budgets are fluid, and small adjustments can make a big difference. Cutting costs doesn’t have to feel restrictive. Here are 10 cost-cutting strategies to help you keep your budget on track and move forward on your journey to financial success, whatever that looks like for you.

  1. Track your spending. How are you spending your money? Are there trends month-to-month? Understanding your cash flow is the first step to finding areas you can save.
  2. Separate wants from needs. Do you really need the latest phone? A new outfit? Those limited-edition sneakers? You know what you like to spend money on, but it’s important to identify what your “wants” are. For those wanted items, consider implementing a waiting period. Pausing can allow you to evaluate the priority of your purchase and look for the best deal. You may be surprised by (and maybe a little proud of) how often you change your mind or decide to delay what could have been an impulse buy.
  3. Avoid using credit cards to pay your bills, if possible. While it may feel easier to charge it, using credit only increases your monthly payments in the future due to interest.
  4. Pack your lunch. Buying lunch or ordering delivery on the regular can add up quickly. By swapping dining out with a little meal prepping, you can rack up the savings.
  5. Check your insurance policies. When’s the last time you reviewed your coverage? You may be spending extra on unnecessary coverage, or you could find you’re not adequately covered, a key to your financial health. There could also be better rates out there for the same coverage. Virginia CU Insurance Services can help you find the right coverage for you and your family at the right price.
  6. Plan for irregular expenses. Property tax is typically billed once or twice a year. If you’re lucky, you go on vacation every now and then. These shouldn’t be a surprise. But, we often forget to account for irregular expenses, like gifts around the holidays, because we don’t pay for them every month. When you build a budget, be sure to set aside small amounts every month for these periodic purchases.
  7. Evaluate your services. Look at your fixed monthly expenses and consider which services are musts and which could be adjusted. Consider cutting or reducing your cable package, pausing a streaming app (or two!), and ensuring you’re not paying a subscription for that mobile app you meant to cancel before the free trial ended.
  8. Reduce your energy use. By choosing energy efficient habits and purchases, you may be able to save big on your energy bill. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, turning back your thermostat 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day could save you as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling. Leaving the house? Be sure to turn off appliances and lights when they’re not needed. And, when it’s time to purchase new appliances or light bulbs, research energy-efficient options. While you’re thinking about your bills, go ahead and sign up for online your bill pay (free to Virginia Credit Union members!) to save on stamps and avoid late fees. You can also consider enrolling in budget billing through your utilities company. By signing up for a consistent, prorated payment, you won’t bust your monthly budget with seasonal changes to energy use.
  9. Create spending speed bumps. Like the speed bumps on the road, creating slow-down barriers can help keep your spending on track. Speed bumps like, removing your payment information from shopping apps or mobile devices, creating a barrier between your shopping cart and checkout. Or, unsubscribing from promotional emails or texts if you find it hard to say no to a sale. For more spending speed bump ideas, check out our video here.  Removing the convenience of spending can be a great way to save some of your hard-earned dollars and keep you on target towards your financial goals.
  10. Evaluate your rates. Are you getting the best rate on your loans? If your credit has improved since your vehicle or home purchase, refinancing your auto loan or refinancing your mortgage into a lower rate can offer savings potential not only monthly but thought-out the lifetime of your loan.

Adopting just one or two of these tips can put some relief on a tight budget and even free up dollars you were previously spending monthly. If you find yourself with a balance at the end of the month, consider putting some of those found funds toward your most important bill – your own savings! Ready to shape up your savings? Watch our video to up your saving smarts here or learn strategies for saving here.

Savings services from VACU can help you prepare for your long-term plans — or an unexpected expense.

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