Think you don’t have $100 to spare? Think again.
Even if your budget is tight right now, there might be ways to save money that you aren’t considering. Not only are some people spending unnecessary cash on a regular basis, but many of us are sitting on untapped sources of money in our own homes. Here are five examples of ways to find extra cash in your budget. Combined, these tips could add up to $100 in savings a week — and some might be worth that much alone.
1. Check Bills for Errors
The next time you get a bill from a doctor’s office, medical clinic or hospital, wait to pay it until you know that the amount you’re being asked to spend is accurate. According to a recent ABC News report, auditors hired by an insurance company found errors in more than 90 percent of the medical bills they examined. These discrepancies can prove devastating for patients’ budgets.
Recently, I received a bill of about $200 for some laboratory tests. According to the letter, my insurer denied coverage because I couldn’t be identified as a member. However, I quickly discovered that the lab had the wrong insurance ID number for me by comparing the number on my insurance card with the one on the bill. By making a quick call, I was able to inform the biller of the mistake so a claim could be submitted to my insurer to cover the cost.
It’s a good idea to check other, non-medical bills for mistakes as well. Without fail, my bank bill includes $20 each year for a lockbox that’s supposed to come free with my checking account and, every year, I have to call the bank to have the cost removed. Taken together, these recovered funds can add up to significant savings in your monthly budget.
2. Identify and Eliminate Hidden Fees
Setting up automatic payments can help ensure that you’re paying bills on time and prevent you from getting hit with late fees. However, if you’re not checking your monthly statements — because you know bills are being deducted automatically — you might be missing other fees that are getting tacked onto your accounts.
For example, if you currently get internet service through your cable provider, you might be paying a monthly modem fee. Time Warner Cable charges $8 a month to rent a modem, while Comcast levies a $10 monthly fee. If you want to save money, you might consider buying a modem. Doing this costs half as much as renting a modem for a year.
Additionally, many banks levy fees on their members. For example, if you have a regular Bank of America checking account and don’t maintain the required $1,500 minimum balance, you will be hit with a $12 monthly maintenance charge. Keeping the requisite amount of money in your account can help you avoid this type of fee moving forward.
For best results, review all bills and financial statements to pinpoint any fees that you’re being charged unfairly and make sure you meet the terms of your contracts.
3. Cancel Magazine Subscriptions
Admittedly, I love magazines — especially ones that feature interior design tips. But rather than spend $3 or more picking one up at the supermarket, or $15 to $20 for an annual subscription, I opt to get most of the content offered by magazines for free on their websites.
If you currently subscribe to several magazines, you might be able to save money by using a mobile app to read them. Blogger Emma Johnson reported that, by paying $9.99 a month for the Texture app that lets her subscribe to as many digital versions of magazines as she wants, she’s actually saving $150 a year on paper subscriptions.
4. Feed Yourself With the Stockpile in Your Freezer
Every now and then, my husband and I institute what we call “freezer week.” During this time, we make all of our meals based on what foods have accumulated in the freezer or pantry, thereby eliminating the need to buy anything at the supermarket that week.
Scheduling regular freezer weeks can lead to serious savings. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, it costs a single adult up to $80 a week to prepare meals at home and a family of four up to $300 a week. You can easily bank that amount by avoiding the grocery store for a week and living off your stockpile at home.
5. Cash in Unused Gift Cards
Chances are that you have a gift card or two at home that you don’t plan to use. According to the online gift card marketplace Gift Card Granny, American households possess an average of $300 in unused gift cards. Fortunately, you can sell these unwanted cards for cash rather than letting them sit around collecting dust.
Sites such as Gift Card Granny, Cardpool and CardCash make it easy to sell gift cards online. You should be aware that you probably won’t recover the full face values of the cards; after all, these sites make their money by reselling cards to others at a discount. However, if you have several cards, selling them to one of these sites could easily net you $100 or more.
Just because you think your budget is stretched to the maximum doesn’t mean there aren’t still ways to cut costs. Take another look at your weekly and monthly expenses — you might just be able to find $100 or more to save.