There are lots of ways to save money, and in this tough economic time, everyone can use a little help. Here are five easy ways I have found to save money without having to change my lifestyle.
The first thing everyone should do is, call all of your credit card companies and ask for a lower rate. It is a simple phone call that takes just a couple of minutes and depending on your debt it could save hundreds or even thousands a year. Many people make this call once and never make it again, which is a huge mistake. You should call all of your credit card companies at least every six months to make sure they are giving you the best deal possible, and always make sure you call back when your “special rate” is about to run out. Also take advantage of 0% balance transfer offers when one of your credit card companies won’t work with you to lower your rate, but make sure you read the fine print on all offers. If it is 0% for six months make sure you have the ability to pay it off by then, or that the rate after your six months is up is acceptable. Be careful not to transfer your balances over and over as this can affect your credit rating.
I have found that although it takes time, using coupons can save you tons of money! In your mail I am sure you receive coupons all the time, and most of us just throw them away, but if you are going to Bed Bath and Beyond anyway, why not take the 20% off coupon they are sending. If you are an on line shopper, search for coupons from your favorite stores. There are many websites that offer on line only coupon codes, one of my favorites for retail stores is http://www.retailmenot.com/. It takes an extra minute to search for them but if it saves you money, it is worth it. One very helpful tool I have found for grocery shopping is http://www.grocerygame.com/. It is not available in all areas but my own personal experience has been wonderful. I have saved at least 45% on every grocery trip since I joined. You have to cut coupons out of your Sunday paper for it to work, but the savings are tremendous.
In Texas, due to electric deregulation, electricity costs are outrageous! There are several companies that offer low rates and the same service. For example in Houston, Texas, all electricity is provided by and repaired by Centerpoint, but you can buy your electricity from Reliant, TXU, Green Mountain, StarTex, or a slew of other providers. At this moment TXU offers 15.2 cents, while Startex offers 10.6 per KWH. That is almost 5 cents per KWH difference and considering, on average, we use about 1200 per month we would save an average of $60.00 per month, in the summer the difference is even more drastic. Check with your provider to make sure you are getting the best rate or find a new provider that will give you the best rate. My favorite website to compare prices and offers on electricity is http://www.powertochoose.org/_content/_compare/compare.aspx.
Another thing I have realized is, medical bills are outrageous. Many of us just take the bills at face value and pay them. Again it takes a few minutes but you should never just pay a medical bill. I have found time and time again that the company sends me a bill before they have received payment from my insurance, and when they do receive payment from the insurance, if you have already paid them, they are not quick to send you a refund! I have had to send requests in writing for refunds from different doctors offices and hospitals. It is important to always check and make sure your insurance has paid first. The next thing to look at is your E.O.B. or explanation of benefits and make sure that your insurance paid the proper amount and that the company that is billing you is not billing you for disqualified charges.
I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten a bill from the lab and checked it out only to find that my insurance company paid at 50% instead of 80% like they are supposed to. Every time this happens I call the insurance company, they apologize, resubmit the claim, it is paid at 80%, saving me a ton of money. The reason we all have insurance is so our medical bills are not completely out of reach and, although they are still high all of the insurance companies I have ever dealt with, have worked out deals with the providers on their plan. Don’t pay above that negotiated price!
The last thing everyone should know about medical bills is, that most are negotiable. If you have been hospitalized, and you call the hospital you can set up small payment plans or negotiate a settlement. Do this before it goes to collection. Do this as soon as you get the final bill and check with your insurance to make sure the final number they have is right. When I had my son by c-section in the hospital and spent five days there, my hospital bill was outrageous. After the insurance paid everything it was going to, I called to set up a payment plan. When I talked to the accounts receivable department they offered to cut both of my bills in half if I could pay in full that day. Of course, that was an offer I couldn’t refuse!
The last bit of advice I have for those of us trying to save money is, have patience. Almost everything goes on sale eventually. Any big ticket items you are looking to purchase, wait for the best deal. DO research and make sure that there isn’t a better deal elsewhere. Don’t be fooled when the salesman tells you he can only make you this offer today. If what you want is going to come from a store look for coupons, check on line, and watch their sales paper to get whatever it is that you want at the best price possible. Don’t ever think you can’t ask for a better deal! I don’t know how many times my husband has said “I am going to go talk to him!” and I have told him “I already did and that is the best they can do.” and do you know when he goes and asks for more he gets it. You may not always get as much as you ask for but it doesn’t hurt to ask! You may be embarrassed but remember the more money you save the more money you have!