Before I buy anything, I check Fatwallet to see if there’s a cash back offer, a coupon, or some arcane deal combination involving cash back, a coupon, a loyalty rewards program,and a specialty offer. I take the time to do all this because my money is valuable to me, I want to buy something for as little as possible and I turn to Fatwallet, and it’s huge community, for advice and direction. It’s become a part of my buying routine so I barely even notice it, which means I can save a lot without even noticing it but it does take a lot of time.
The easiest way to save a lot of money without noticing it (and without spending a lot of time!) is to review your fixed monthly costs. There are some things that you can’t really change from year to year, like your state income taxes, but there are plenty of others that can be adjusted for some big savings:
Reassess your apartment or home rental.
All too often we get complacent and comfortable with our regular routine and that includes where we live. The next time your lease is set to renew, research alternatives because you might be pleasantly surprised to learn how much money you can save by moving. Even if you don’t want to move, you can use the research you find to renegotiate your current lease to get you more favorable rates. Landlords like routine and continuity as much as renters and are willing to make deals if it means not having to find a new renter.
Comparison shop your insurance policies. Experts recommend that you price shop your insurance policy at least once a year. With the advent of the internet, it takes you a mere moments to collect a dozen online insurance quotes and compare the various policies. Make sure to take into account bundling your services (auto and homeowner’s or renter’s insurance) as well any loyalty and affinity discounts you may currently be getting.
Review your retirement account and fund expenses.
Not all retirement accounts and retirement investment options are created equal. While you can’t predict the future when it comes to fund performance, the one thing you can control is how much that fund will cost you. Be sure to review your investment’s expenses and trim them whenever possible. If you have the opportunity to rollover your 401(k) from a former employer to one where the fees are lower, consider doing so unless the former plan’s options are much better. Just a small decrease in expenses, magnified over decades, can result in huge savings…something your future you will appreciate when it comes time to use that money.
Check your credit report (and score if you are so inclined).
Review your credit report at least once a year for errors or irregularities. Credit reporting agencies make mistakes all the time and it’s important that your credit report, and thus your score, be as accurate as possible even if you don’t intend to borrow any money. Your credit score is used in a variety of ways, from renting an apartment to getting a cell phone, and accuracy is paramount. You can also check your FICO credit score but that’s not quite as important as the report itself. You can get your credit report for free from annualcreditreport.com, a website set up by the government under the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
While there are several other fixed costs you can review, the ones I mentioned above are the more “hidden” costs because you often don’t actively pay them every month. With insurance, you probably pay twice a year. With your retirement expenses, it’s charged automatically without your intervention. Even the credit report related costs, like higher rent and a larger deposit for a cell phone, are invisible to you because it’s hard to attribute one to the other. Only on rent is the cost evident in a monthly payment.
So by trimming those down, you can save money without even noticing it. You can take these savings and put them towards debt, a new flat screen television, or you can just treat yourself to a nice vacation!
Jim Wang, the personal finance guru behind Bargaineering.com is actually a longtime, well-respected, and famous member of the FatWallet community. Jim is one of the experts in the finance forum and has been sharing knowledge and helping people out for almost 10 years. You may also connect with Jim on Google+.