There’s no doubt that the economy has been challenging in the past few years. Inflation and gas prices are up, home prices and property values are down, and the stock market is all over the place. People have lost their jobs, are working for far less than can pay the bills, or are just plain underemployed.
In these challenging economic conditions, people are doing all they can to save money. Shopping for discounts, clipping coupons and going where the sales are are all obvious avenues to pursue when trying to save money on a daily or weekly basis.
While smaller-scale efforts can definitely make a difference and save money over time, there are also some larger-scale ways to save even more significant amounts of money. Some of them are so “obvious” and right under our noses, we may actually miss these opportunities for savings. Here are just a few of them:
Get Identity Theft Protection
Financial security is also important if you wish to save money. Residents of San Francisco were hit hard with identity theft last year and so that is why California and LifeLock services organized a free education summit and joined forces with the FBI to teach the law enforcement officials of California about the dangers of identity theft and credit card fraud. Get protection before you need it!
Refinance Your Home
If you are a homeowner and it’s been awhile since you purchased your home, one of the best things you can do for your financial picture is look into refinancing your home. Mortgage rates have fallen in recent months, and it’s always worth your time to at least look into refinancing.
To take full advantage of the refinancing process, ideally you should have a credit score at or above 720. Credit scores of 800 or above can really mean big savings in your mortgage rate and more money in your pocket going forward. Other factors to remember when considering refinancing is you should have steady employment, as well as at least 20% equity in your home, and little or no other consumer debt.
Refinancing can result in a drop of one full percentage point in your interest rate — or more. The net result can be thousands of dollars over the life of your home loan.
Send at Least One Extra Mortgage Payment Per Year
This simple step can take years off your mortgage and keep money in your pocket that would otherwise go toward interest dollars. You can send the extra money all at once, or send a little bit each month with your regular payment toward the principal of your loan. Whether or not you refinance your home loan, sending one extra payment per year can really make a big difference to your financial well being.
Negotiate a Low APR for Your Credit Cards
Just about all of us are aware of the finance charge that applies if we carry a balance on our credit cards. However, few people know that these rates are not set in stone. Many credit card companies will respond to requests for a lower interest rate, and you can do this with just a phone call.
Energy-Saving Home Improvements
Just like mortgage rates, home equity loans are also lower than ever, and the extra money could fund any number of home improvements. Adding new windows and insulation could greatly reduce your energy costs, as could installing an updated heating system and Energy Star appliances.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on the road to savings. Be creative, be resourceful, and enjoy all of the money you’ll save by just making a few changes.
Allconnect is a free online resource to review and compare the costs and choices for essential home services, including home utilities, high speed Internet, phone, cable TV, satellite TV, and home security systems.
Author bio: Mark Lister writes about saving money around the home.