Budgeting Tips with CWCU

How to Find Extra Income in your Current Budget: An Article by Rhonda, CWCU

Do you find yourself running short or out of money before the end of the month? Well, don’t feel alone because there are many who, at no fault of their own, find themselves needing to make some changes, whether for a temporary boost or a permanent change. Every persons’ circumstances are as different and unique as they are, so there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to our finances, it is important to remember this.

There are some easy ways to find some extra money within your current income stream. There is no way for perfection, but here are some tricks that can be used for your current budget. As a disclaimer: this is no cure-all nor will these ideas work for everyone but if you are able to take even one of these tips to help your money go a little farther, then it would be well worth the read.

The very first step you need to take is to separate your wants from your needs. I know this sounds easy but in reality YOU have to make the decision for yourself on what is necessary. The only way to successfully get a handle on expenses is to be 100% on board, and that starts with YOU. Keep the needs and eliminate some of the excess spending in your budget.

Here are some tips on how to save on your monthly expenditures:

Let’s start with your insurance bill. This can be your home, auto or rental; usually the auto can make the biggest difference. If you have full coverage, consider increasing your deductible to the highest allowable by the lien holder (the institution it is financed through). For example, if you have a $250 deductible but your loan paperwork says you can go as high as $500 or $1000, contact your insurance agent to see how much your savings could be. There are also liability limits that will be required by the lien holder. Again, look at your loan paperwork and be sure to stay within those limits so you do not unintentionally breach your contract.

You can also get insurance premium discounts by being part of a credit union, certain non-profit groups, good driver discounts, good grades, etc. But your biggest discount will be with a multi-car or combining your home, auto, boat, etc policies with the same insurance company. So if you have your recreational vehicle at one insurance company and your auto and home at another; it would be advantageous for you to investigate the savings of having all your policies with the same company. Many companies will say you are getting a discount but until you look for yourself do you really know if that’s true or not? Educate yourself and ask what discounts are available to you.

I recommend shopping around every couple of years to get the best deal. Many times you can get introductory rates for a year or two and then your premiums slowly creep up. When that happens, it’s time to do a review of your policy and start some comparison shopping. When doing your comparison, be sure to have your current policy with you and the deductible you are looking for, if it’s different than what your current policy has. This only takes a small amount of time but, depending upon your situation, could potentially save you lots of money.

Next is to look at your 401(k) contributions. Don’t get me wrong, I would never tell anyone to NOT contribute to their future. This is a very necessary expense, however, there are times that we need to consider our current situation as a priority. I am not telling you to stop your contributions but to consider only putting in the minimum amount needed for a company match. It doesn’t make sense to save for our future at the expense of our present. Will this save you $100’s? Probably not but, as I said at the beginning, this is not a “one size fits all” but every little bit helps. Once expenses ease up a bit you can then increase your contribution back up to your original contribution limit.

I saved the best for last; these can often be touchy: cellphones, cable and internet. Consider what you use your phone for; calls to friends, texting, Facebook, camera or maybe it’s your lifeline to emergency medical care or you are self employed and your business relies on your customers being able to contact you. You have to decide if it’s a necessity or something that could be reduced or eliminated. Cancelling contracts before they are up is not a good idea but reducing or changing your services could ease the wallet a bit. If you have a cell phone, do you have a landline? If so, why? Is it necessary? Maybe you could reduce your channel selection with your cable provider to reduce your monthly bill. Do you really NEED the Oprah Channel? Maybe, maybe not. What about that pricey internet bill. What do you use the internet for? Or did you just get it because it was a bundle. Watch those bundles because their monthly bill will definitely go up and they are not quite as easy or economical to switch out every time the introductory period is over.

Beyond our normal monthly bills, many of us are plagued with fees. Annual fees on credit card, monthly fees on our checking account, NSF fees for bounce checks, etc. These are completely avoidable but it won’t happen overnight. it will take some hard decisions and discipline on your part but could give you the quickest result in your budget. The average American pays too much in overdraft fees each year.

You should consider paying off and eliminating high interest credit cards or the ones that charge annual fees. If paying them off isn’t an option, maybe looking into a balance transfer with a lower rate card with no annual fee, there are many institutions that offer this service.

Try to avoid Cash Advance companies. You may get some immediate cash but many charge upwards to 400% interest. That is a downward spiral that will completely pull you off track quickly and for an extended period of time.

These are just a couple of places we don’t normally look at to help us save money. Our house and car payments are what they are; we can be coupon shoppers to help with groceries but we need to stand back and take a good long look at what we THINK we need and make sure we are putting them into the correct bucket.

Most credit unions offer a no fee, lower interest rate credit cards; have a small loan that would be compete with the cash advance loans at a much lower rate and they will help you balance your spending to avoid fees if you ask for help. Credit Unions were founded on the basis of “People Helping People” and many still follow that philosophy today.

Our staff at Community West Credit Union wants to help you succeed and attain the level of financial security you need. We are here to help whether it’s for a lower interest rate card, a small loan or a checking account.

I hope this article has given you a couple ideas where you could save a buck or two. Maybe it has opened your eyes to other parts of your budget that could use some tweaking. Either way, I hope it was beneficial for you, no matter what state your finances are in, and we’ll see you next time.

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