Stretching Your Cash When You Live Off a Small Paycheck

If you’re like many others with low-paying jobs, you feel as though your money doesn’t stretch quite far enough. You may be responsible with your spending, pay your bills on time, and maintain a low level of debt, but it can still be hard to make ends meet with that social work or teaching job you love so much. This can be especially difficult if you’re currently unemployed or underemployed. Fortunately, there are a few tricks that can make your money go just a little further.

Phone Savings

The majority of people now own cell phones, but many hold onto their land lines “just in case.” That attachment to old-fashioned phones could be costing you about $300 every year. You can also save on telephone expenses by purchasing text messages in bulk. Pay-as-you-go rates cost about five to 15 cents per message, while bulk buying offers texts for about one cent apiece. If you frequently used directory assistance, consider switching to a free alternative for a savings of about $1.50 per call.

Organize Your Bills

Most people don’t bother to organize their spending beyond the basics. If you keep all your important papers in one box or folder, you’re not alone. This method of organization can keep you from saving effectively, however. Take a little time to separate all your papers into individual categories. Tally up what you spend every month and pay attention when you pay your bills. You may be able to downgrade or eliminate some services, such as cable television, to reduce your costs.

Refinancing Benefits

Refinancing isn’t a sure route to savings but it can help when interest rates are low. If you have a mortgage, car loan or other major type of debt, consider talking to your lender about refinancing options. You may be able to lower your overall interest rate, saving up to $30 per month on vehicle loans and even more on mortgages. Remember that refinancing costs money and time, so it’s a good idea to analyze the benefits before you jump in.

Consider Credit Cards

Credit cards may seem like a terrible way to save money; after all, their sky-high interest rates keep many people in debt for years. If you choose the right card and use it carefully, however, you could save money and even cut down on debt. Some cards offer extremely low introductory rates for the first six to 12 months. Starting a new credit card account with one of these more-appealing offers could allow you to cancel an older card with a higher interest rate. Just make sure that you know how high the interest will rise after the introductory offer and that you pay your debt off promptly.

If you’ve had the same credit card for a long time and switching doesn’t appeal to you, it’s still possible to lower your interest rates. Consider calling your credit card company and asking them to lower your rate. There’s a good chance that you could end up with interest as low as 10 percent if the company thinks you might take your business elsewhere.

These are just a few of the ways you can make your existing income stretch a little bit further. There’s more to saving money than just cutting out luxuries. By spending smart, you can reduce the amount you pay without having to live in austerity.

Hillary Ramirez is a freelance blogger with interests in humanitarian and social work..

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