Are you trying to cut down on costs but still finding yourself short of funds some of the time? The Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants offers these simple solutions to help you eliminate unnecessary spending and pump up your budget power.
Take a Gift Card to Lunch
Everyday indulgences, such as a morning latte or a takeout lunch, are a lot more expensive than bringing your own coffee or midday meal. Here’s one way to treat yourself without overspending: Decide how much you can afford to spend at your favorite coffee house or restaurant each month, then buy yourself a gift card for that amount from that establishment at the beginning of every month. Use it whenever you want something special, but don’t allow yourself any more splurges if the card runs out early. This way you’ll still be able to enjoy treats without busting your budget.
Drop Unused Channels
When it comes to watching TV, are you paying for premium channels that you never use, or do you even watch enough TV to warrant an expensive cable package? It may be smart to evaluate what you actually need when it comes to television service. According to the NPD Group, the average household is expected to pay $200 per month for TV by 2020. You could save yourself a nice amount each month by dropping unused premium channels or other services you don’t actually need.
Explain Missed Payments
If you’ve ever forgotten to pay a credit card bill or had to stretch a payment into another month, you know how high late payment charges can be. It’s worthwhile to call the credit card issuer, explain that you made a mistake, assure them that you have since paid the bill, and ask them to waive the fee if possible. While this approach might help you avoid fees once, be sure not to make a habit of it. To avoid running late, mark your payment deadlines on your calendar and stay within budget when using your card so you have the money you need to pay on time. Chronic late payments will result in more late fees, possible hikes in the interest rate you pay, and lower credit scores.
Reassess Your Ride
According to the AAA, it cost $8,698 on average in 2015 to drive a typical sedan 15,000 miles in a year, $9,372 for a minivan, and $10,624 for an SUV with four-wheel-drive. Those numbers include average fuel, maintenance, tires, license and registration fees, taxes, depreciation, and finance charges. If you’re wondering if downsizing is best, check out resources such as Edmunds.com’s “True Cost to Own” site to help you determine what your likely annual costs will be for the makes and models that interest you.
Lighten Up on Baggage Fees
Airline baggage fees can run around $25 for a first checked bag and sometimes even higher for a second or an overweight or oversized bag. Packing light is one great way to avoid extra fees, as is joining a frequent flier program that offers discounts on baggage charges. In addition, when you’re comparing fares, find out the baggage charge for each option to determine what your total cost will be. It may be cheaper in the end to pick the flight with a slightly higher fare but a better baggage policy.
Turn to Your Local CPA
Want more help staying on budget and making the most of your money? Your CPA can help. He or she can offer advice on all of your financial questions. If you need a CPA ask friends or relatives for recommendations or use the PICPA’s CPA locator at www.picpa.org/moneyandlife