1. Negotiate credit card rates or complete a balance transfer
If you’re paying a lot of interest on your credit cards, it’s important to know that you do have some negotiation power as long as you’ve been making your payments. Not only do you have the right to negotiate your current interest rate with your credit card issuer, but you have the right to transfer your balance to an entirely different card as well. (In fact, that is perhaps your biggest bargaining chip.)
2. Quit using credit cards for everything
If you have a habit of getting into trouble with credit cards, hide your credit cards and keep them in a safe place in your home, not in your wallet. If you need to keep a card for emergencies, that’s okay. Just don’t carry it around with you. If you’re often tempted to use it, keeping your card “out of sight and out of mind” might help.
3. Remove your credit or debit numbers from your online accounts
It’s easy to spend online when you have your card information stored in an account – just click and buy. The best way to break this habit is to simply delete your card from the account.
That way, when you’re tempted to spend, you’ll be forced to spend the time to dig out your card – and really think about why you’re spending this money. Sometimes being forced to take that extra step is all it takes to convince yourself you don’t need the item after all.
4. Create a visual reminder of your debt
To put your debt into terms that are easy to understand, make a giant progress bar that starts with the amount of debt you have and ends with zero. Each time you pay down a little bit, fill in a little more of that progress bar.
Keep this reminder in a place where you’ll see it often, and keep filling it in regularly. It can help keep your eye on the prize and lead you straight to debt freedom.
5. Design your ‘debt snowball’
Everyone needs a plan to help them get out of debt, so sit down and plot out which debts you’re going to pay off and in what order. Simply having a plan goes a long way toward putting that plan into action, and paying off debts early is one of the surest ways to put money in your pocket over the long run.
6. Consolidate your student loans
It could be worthwhile to consolidate your student loans into one low-rate package.
It’s just one way to tackle student debt, but consider the various student loan consolidation packages available and see what you might save: Even a 1 percent reduction on a $10,000 loan saves you $100 a year, and your loan is probably bigger.
7. Learn about all of the benefits your company offers
Spend some time with an HR person at work learning about all the benefits of your job – you might be surprised at what you find. Don’t forget to ask about any savings with cell phone companies, retirement plan matches and school assistance. You could save hundreds just by being an employee.
8. Get on the automatic repayment plan for any student loans you have
Many student loans offer a small rate reduction if you sign up for their automatic debt repayment plan. This way, not only do you save a few bucks a month — you don’t have to go to the effort of actually writing a check to pay the bill either.
9. Utilize online bill pay
This serves two purposes: First, it keeps you in closer contact with your money as you can keep a very close eye on your balance and be that much less likely to overdraft.
Second, it saves you money on stamps and paper checks by allowing you to just fill in an online form, click submit, and have your bill paid. Try it out – and take advantage of it if you’re not already. Travis’s Online Banking has several options for online bill pay and gives a great quick glance and detailed information on all your accounts.
10. Always ask for fees to be waived
Any time you sign up for a service of any kind and there are sign-up fees, ask for them to be waived. Sometimes (but not always), they will be – and you save money just by being forthright about not wanting to pay excessive fees.
11. Avoid stress-spending
It’s easy to justify spending money just to wind down from a stressful day at work. However, it’s rarely a good idea. Instead of buying things you don’t need to make yourself feel better, it might be wise to find other ways to de-stress instead.
Exercise is always a good option, as is meditation and even a good old-fashioned nap. Read, watch movies or work in your yard if you’re stressed out. Spending money won’t reduce your stress in the long run. If anything, it might stress you out more.
12. Share your dreams with people you love
This seems like an odd way to save money, but think about it. If you spend time with the people you love the most and come to some consensus about your dreams, it becomes easy for you all to plan for it. Set a big, audacious goal together and encourage each other to be financially fit. Soon, you’ll find you’re doing it naturally and your dreams are coming closer than ever.