I love headlines like that. Tightening our belts is the topic du jour during this economic disaster. While the leading indicators show an improvement, I am sure you know people who are still unemployed, have lost their homes, or are in serious financial straits. We are hardly out of the woods yet. So, I have compiled a list of my favorite tips for saving money:
• Protect your credit score. Why?
o You qualify for better interest rates when your credit score is good, which saves you money in the long run.
o Your credit score impacts your property insurance rates.
o A prospective employer may want to check your credit. A bad score could hurt your chances, depending upon the employer.
Everyone knows you should get the free, annual credit report offered through AnnualCreditReport.com. Identity theft is not the only danger, though. Excessive debt and late payments or defaults can damage your score. All your sacrifices and stringent budgeting can be undone by a lousy credit score.
• Be thoughtful about all purchases, not just the big ones. I am not talking about your daily Starbucks habit, although that can add up too. A lot of purchases are driven by a perceived need, rather than an actual need.
• Don’t fall victim to the “it’s on sale” syndrome. You are not saving money if you really had no intention of buying the item in the first place.
• The Internet is a fabulous tool. You can comparison shop without having to leave the comfort of your home.
Tip if you are considering an appliance purchase: Go to energystar.gov. Look for the Energy Star Appliance Rebate Program button. The “cash for clunkers” program is being offered for certain appliances this year. Each state has a different budget and rollout date. Our dishwasher died here at Parsec about three weeks ago. We waited for this program to start in North Carolina and saved over $100.
• Ask about discounts. Some people will give you a discount, but you have to ask. My vet will match heartworm medicine prices offered by a national catalog retailer. I saved about $50.
Yes, it takes extra work to stretch your dollar these days. Hopefully, these tips can assist you in that task.
Cristy Freeman, AAMS
Senior Operations Associate