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February 22, 2010 | Posted By: Kristin Harad
A Guest Blog by Kristin Harad, CFPģ, Vita Vie Financial Planning
The biggest challenge most people have with saving money is that they conjure up images of making daily sacrifices. You envision giving up your daily latte, stocking up at the overwhelming warehouse store or forgoing buying that new pair of shoes that you really desire. You become so stressed, you change nothing. Or, worse yet, you get anxious with every decision causing great angst in your day-to-day spending.
Sometimes we do need to make hard choices in order to save money, but an easier way to get started is by eliminating the waste that may be right under your nose. With an Afternoon in a Room you can easily slash hundreds or dollars or more from your annual spending without giving up a single trip to your favorite coffeehouse. Find just $42 in monthly savings and youíll end the year with any extra $500 in your pocket!
The goal of an Afternoon in a Room is to go through every recurring expense that you have to make sure that you know what you are paying for, arenít wasting money on things you donít use anymore, and ensure that you are getting the best possible price. Start by gathering up every bill that comes to your house on a regular basis, such as utility bills, phone bills, credit card statements, and insurance premium notices. Then, eliminate all distractions so that you can spend a disciplined afternoon calling each service provider to make sure that you are getting the best and most appropriate pricing.
So, put the dog in the yard and send the kids to grandmaís house (or vice versa, if you prefer), hang a Do Not Disturb sign on the door, and start dialing for dollars!
Here are some tips for maximizing your savings:
1. An easy way to start is with any vendor that has multiple usage options, such as your mobile phone or cable TV. Make sure you are paying for the service tier that best matches what you are actually using. Be sure to ask if there is any promotional pricing that you may be eligible for as well!
2. Scour your credit card statements for things you are paying for but no longer use. The subscription to the magazine that you havenít read in years is a prime candidate for cancellation. And we all know that we *should* use that gym membership, but if youíre just not, then suspend or cancel your membership for more quick savings. Pay by the visit instead.
3. You really can save hundreds on your car insurance! You may have grown immune to the constant barrage of commercials urging you to compare auto insurance rates, but chances are that you may be able to achieve significant savings by switching to a new carrier. There are numerous auto insurance comparison quote services that can quickly help you find cheaper premiums.
4. Ask for what you want. If you are carrying a balance on your credit cards, call each issuer and ask for a lower rate. While the ongoing credit crunch and impending new credit card laws have made lower rates a bit harder to come by, many issuers will still lower rates or offer short-term promotional interest rates for borrowers with sound credit.
5. Be sure to call everyone Ė and then make one more call. Navigating countless phone trees may not be the most fun way to spend an afternoon, but keep a tally of your savings as you go and youíll be impressed by how easy it was to put more money in your pocket. Once youíve made it through your stack of bills and statements, donít call it a day yet. Keep the momentum going by making at least one more money-saving call. Challenge yourself to find one overlooked opportunity. Perhaps youíll finally follow up on a missing refund payment that was supposed to be sent to you months ago or remind your sister to send you a check for her half of your momís birthday present.
What are your strategies for slashing your recurring charges? How much did you save with an Afternoon in a Room? Let us know in the comments below!
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