• Alex Mizerski

Six easy ways to save money

Updated: Nov 9, 2020

Here at The Saving Dude, we focus our attention on building your net worth over time. There is no better way to build your net worth than saving money today and investing it wisely so it can grow over time. We have already talked about the Top 5 ways to impact net worth and now we will focus on things you never knew to negotiate and other ways to save money. I'll also sprinkle in some advice on how to broach the subject. As always, remember that negotiating is common and most of the companies below are prepared to negotiate with you if you come to them with the right ask, which we will cover. So don't fret, you got this, and now let's walk through six easy ways to save money!


Here are six easy ways to save money:


1. Cable, TV, and Internet

2. Rent

3. Gym Memberships

4. Healthcare

5. Credit Card Fees and Interest

6. Real Estate (commissions when selling and mortgage rates)


Cable, TV, and Internet



Anymore there are a ton of options when it comes to cable, tv, and internet services. Hulu, Netflix, HBO GO, Disney+, and many many more. Most of those al la carte services cannot be negotiated, but the internet you are getting to support those certainly can be. In addition, if you haven't cut the cord, then you can work with your cable provider to get your bill as low as possible and save some money. If you are able to get your bill down $10/month, which is a conservative number, that is a $120 savings per year (keep that number in mind as we will tally everything up at the end). At least once a month my local cable providers are running some type of special to get my business. So whether you are sticking with the same company or looking to switch, asking for more (channels, features, etc.) or less (reduced cost) should be a common practice for anyone trying to save a little money.


How do you make it happen?

I suggest calling about once a quarter, or every three months, and asking what specials they can offer you. Maybe you will get HBO, Showtime, or Starz for free for 60 days, or maybe you will just get your bill lowered. You can also bundle further by adding the internet with your cable service and cutting another service provider that is giving you the internet. In any case, you are saving money, or at least trying to.


Total Time Spent:

40 minutes per year


Total Savings Potential:

$120 per year


Rent


For many of us negotiating your rent just isn't something we think about, but this is a highly impactful way to save money. We are good tenants who pay our bills on time, keep quiet during after hours, keep your porch and common space clean, don't have a pet or keep your pet clean and clean up after them, and respect the community property. What we don't think about is not all tenants are like you and because of that you are more valuable, and thus can negotiate rent. If you aren't a good tenant who cares about their community property, throws parties, and doesn't pay rent on time, but want to save money then think about changing your ways to make you a more appealing tenant to your landlord. If you plan to be a long-term renter the potential savings here can be dramatic. For the sake of this article let's say you plan to rent for 6 years and can save $200 per month on rent via negotiations. That is a $12,000 savings over the course of 6 years and $2,400 per year


How do you make it happen?

The list of positive attributes I mention above need to be shared with your landlord. If they see you as the valuable asset/tenant you are then they will be willing to discuss changes to your rental agreement to keep you around. After your first year of living at the property, you should have built up enough credibility that you can now negotiate. Set up a time to speak with your landlord about your current cost of rent. Share with them all the ways you have been the ideal tenant over the past year and open the discussion. Beyond just asking for lower rent keep in mind the things they might find to be valuable. They may want to extend your lease or receive notice that you are moving out more than 30 days in advance. Also, hammer home the point that you are an amazing tenant with their best interests in mind.


Total Time Spent:

30 minutes per year


Total Savings Potential:

$2,400 per year


Gym Memberships



Right now is the perfect time for you to negotiate your gym membership and save some money. Gyms are hurting with attendance and the huge boom in at-home fitness. I myself have stopped going to the gym entirely, bought some free weights, and don't plan to go back to the gym (except to play tennis) for quite a while. If I wasn't an avid tennis player living in a colder climate I would cancel my membership altogether. What I have been able to do is get my monthly fees reduced as a result of my habit changes and it was really really easy. It took about 15 minutes and is saving me $15 per month. In addition to the fact that gyms are looking to retain members, they run special every month, very similar to what cable companies are doing. Each of these special offers is meant to draw additional members away from their competition and are all opportunities for you to save.


How do you make it happen?

This one is pretty simple, just give the gym a call and ask to talk to a salesperson. Let them know that you are considering canceling your membership because you don't have a need right now, but if they can lower your bill then you would consider staying. It is as simple as that. If they don't give you a better offer, then let them know that you will be canceling your membership. If you really don't want to cancel your membership then this doesn't play as well, so you have to be ready to walk away if they won't give you a great deal. What's awesome is there are a ton of gyms out there and probably at least a few close to your house and I bet they are willing to give you a new member deal.


Total Time Spent:

10 minutes per year


Total Savings Potential:

$180 per year



Healthcare



As with anyone who sends you a bill they only wish to get paid. Healthcare is no different, they just want to get paid for the service they provided. We all know healthcare bills can add up quickly and be a huge burden on your finances. In the case of healthcare, bills remember that you are dealing with a business just the same as the cable company or a gym. They have a certain amount of profit built into their billing model and in certain circumstances are more than willing to reduce their profit to get a bill paid. This is where a savvy negotiator and someone who likes to save comes into the picture (I'm talking about you, a regular reader of The Saving Dude).


How do you make it happen?

Healthcare provider bills are always negotiable and you should prepare yourself, no matter the healthcare cost, to negotiate that cost down and cut costs. I'm not saying to ask your pharmacist to lower the cost of prescriptions. No, I'm talking about elective surgery, getting tonsils out, or a broken ankle. Once you receive the bill give your provider a call and ask them if there is any way to lower the bill. Then let them do the talking. Their billing department has absolutely heard this question asked before and should have an answer prepared. Let them know you are prepared to make a lower payment immediately, but a larger payment might take more time to make. Typically a call like this can take 15-20 minutes and save you $1000's. For the sake of tracking in this article, we will round down to $1,000


Total Time Spent:

20 minutes per year


Total Savings Potential:

$1,000 per year


Credit Card Fees and Interest


Credit card companies make a lot of money. They have a business model that collects fees every step of the way. Even if you are paying your bills on time every month the credit card company makes money every time you swipe your card, typically 3% is charged to Target, Amazon, or Walmart, where ever you are swiping. In addition, they know they will be writing down some of their profits for folks that can't or won't pay their bills. This is just a part of their business model and helps them protect profits and grow year over year. There is a reason Warren Buffet owns a ton of American Express stock, it has a beautiful business model that rakes in the dough year after year.


How do you make it happen?

There are a few expenses that are up for negotiation with your credit card company. First is late fees and those can really hurt. Don't plan on this being a commonly waived fee, but if you accidentally miss a payment one time then most companies will waive the fee in an effort to keep a customer happy. Second is the annual fee and from what I have read this is something you can more commonly get eliminated just by asking. So a quick call to your credit card company and asking something like, I've been a good customer would you consider waiving the annual fee this year, should only take a few minutes and could save you $79-$499, depending on the type of card you have. Last you can save on your interest rate. Similar to our argument for how to get a lower interest rate when refinancing, if you are a good customer, pay your bills on time, and spend a decent amount with your card every month, then they have an incentive to lower your interest rate. To further that point, you have earned a lower rate by being a good customer and your credit card company should want to give it to you.


Total Time Spent:

40 minutes per year


Total Savings Potential:

$500 per year



Real Estate (commissions when selling and mortgage rates)


Because buying and selling a home only happens a few times in everyone's life this is a key area where you should focus as you are preparing to move. When selling your home you are typically responsible for realtor fees. This is commonly known and something you should expect from the process. Many of us have a friend or someone you know who is a realtor which gives you a great opportunity to get an outstanding rate. The impact here can be quite substantial. If you are selling your home for the national average of $329,000 and save 1% then you just put $3,290 back into your pocket! When it comes to your interest rate and the potential savings there jump over to a previous article about the Top 5 ways to impact net worth for a breakdown of the potential impact of a .25% interest rate savings.


How do you make it happen?

This one is much simpler than most others, just ask. If you are using a friend or close acquaintance as your realtor ask them for their regular rate and then ask them to cut that in half for you. If you are searching for a realtor make sure to let each one you speak with know they are competing against one another. This is the best way to get the lowest rate from a realtor you don't know. After they have offered you their best rate say something like this "I know this is a great rate, but I was hoping for X%, and if you can get down to that number you have the job." I have found a simple statement that has been quite successful in my negotiation attempts.


Total Time Spent:

30 minutes per year


Total Savings Potential:

$3,290 per year


Summary


So now you have 6 different ways to save money with just a tiny bit of negotiating. If you were keeping track of the time and money saved here is our tally:


Total Time Spent:

170 minutes per year or just under 3 hours per year!


Total Savings Potential:

$7,490 per year


I don't know about you, but that is a ton of money saved in a year. Some of these are one time savings so your year over year savings won't be this amount. If you take out the annual credit card fee, because you can probably only get that once or twice, and take out the realtor fees, we are down to a $3,700 per year. Still, a number to be proud of and an annual number that can turn in to $360,000 over 30 years. If you combine that with the savings you will get if you negotiate your mortgage interest rate down by .25%, you can find that savings here then we are talking about a huge impact on your net worth over 30 years which is most peoples working years.


We are always looking for more subscribers to collect and learn about other ways folks are saving money and negotiating on their bills. Feel free to drop a comment about the ways you are saving money as well. I'd love to research and write about all the ways our community is saving money.

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