C) SLASH EVERYDAY EXPENSES
Financial mishaps occasionally take place. For most of us it is the little ones that often cause the biggest cash drain. Consumers should not let these mishaps tap their income and savings.
Seek Lower Interest Rates
Credit card issuers want to keep your business. They want the existing, charging customer to remain with them and to continue to charge on their cards. You, as an educated consumer, should not accept living with high rates on your credit cards, even if your credit is not the best. Contact your credit card issuer and ask for a lower interest rate. If the card issuer refuses, shop for another card. Let the card issuer know that you are shopping for a better rate. This threat just might change their minds about denying you a lower rate.
Decrease Commuting Expenses
Review the costs of your daily commute to work. Consider the costs for parking, gas, tolls, insurance, maintenance or, if applicable, public transportation. Changing how you get to work can decrease commuting expenses from gas savings to insurance reductions to reduced wear on your vehicle. Consider carpooling to work. Ask around if co-workers are interested in carpooling with you. If you do not take public transportation and it is available compare its costs to the costs of using your own vehicle.
Reduce Energy Cost
Make your house energy efficient to reduce utility bills. Seek inexpensive solutions that can yield immediate benefits. Good ideas include new insulation, programmable thermostats, caulking and energy efficient bulbs. A change in your landscaping can result in lower energy bills by blocking winds and sun.
Review Cell Phone Calling Plan
Shop around to different cellular phone service providers. Choose a plan that suits your lifestyle. Often consumers make the mistake of signing up for a low rate plan that only provides a set number of minutes. They then exceed their airtime each month and are hit with large per minute charges. Consumers should learn about the cellular carriers and find out about their terms, rates and reliability. It also is a good strategy, when shopping, to tell each carrier about the other carriers’ rate plans. This may get you a better rate plan. It is also a good idea to request a free phone if needed.
Review Shopping Habits
Read weekly circulars and clip coupons. It is a good ides to comparison shop, purchase sale items, use shopping lists and redeem rebates. Avoid the urge to splurge on impulse items. Set a schedule for your weekly meals to limit dining out. This also prevents the need to stop and make last minute purchases at the take-out counter or at the pre-made section of the supermarket. These last minute purchases are always more costly than self-prepared food.
ATM’s serve as convenient ways to quickly get cash. However, these cash machines can be very costly. Bank ATM fees often add up. Avoid extra fees by using only your bank’s ATM machines. This will help avoid charges from both your bank and the other bank. When opening a bank account it is a good idea to find a bank that does not charge a fee for ATM transactions from your bank’s machines. Grocery store point-of-sale terminals are free. You might also consider switching to a bank with a larger ATM network and withdrawing larger amounts so that you can reduce the number of times fees are charged to your account.
Lower Credit Card Rates
Your creditors may be willing to lower your interest rate if you simply call and ask for a lower rate. This call can save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in interest charges. The creditors have no incentive to lower your rates if you do not request a change or if you do not threaten to take your business elsewhere. Surveys have shown that more than half of those consumers who ask for a reduction in their interest rates obtained lower rates. Many consumers who are granted interest rate reductions receive substantial reductions. Reducing your interest rates by as much as one-third will create a huge interest savings. Some credit card issuers may even temporarily reduce the interest rates to as low as 0%. Some credit card issuers grant the interest rate reductions for temporary periods. Others provide the savings forever as long as the debtor remains current with the account. Beware when seeking an interest rate reduction if it is temporary. The rate may go back up after a set time.
Credit card issuers will reduce interest rates because of competition from other card issuers. The reasoning is simple. Reducing interest rates and keeping a paying customer is more beneficial than losing the paying customer’s business completely. Lower interest rates set by the Federal Reserve have made it easier for credit card issuers to offer lower rates to their customers. The current low rates have created an opportunity for consumers to ask for rate reductions.
A simple approach to requesting a lower rate is the best approach. You should state your name and tell the creditor that you are a good customer. Make it a point to inform the creditor that you have received several offers in the mail offering lower interest rates. State that you want a lower rate or you will cancel your card and switch creditors. If your creditor denies the rate reduction, it is a good idea to try again. You likely will get another representative on the phone or you could ask to speak with a supervisor. You could be transferred to an agent who specializes in keeping customers who are threatening to cancel. Newer customers who have higher balances will have amore difficult time in getting the rate reduced. The creditors like to see a history before granting an interest rate reduction.