I know I told you I’d help you with ways to save money NOW, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t give you some quick and easy suggestions for longer-term savings. While these tips may require a phone call or two, they may still result in substantial savings within a few weeks.

1. Raise the Deductible. Call your insurance agent (car, house, and health) and raise your deductibles. Just raising your car deductible from $250 to $500 can save you hundreds of dollars per year on your insurance. And while you have them on the phone, ask about safe drivers’ discounts, good health discounts, and gym discounts. Yes, some insurance plans offer discounts at workout facilities, and some may even give you a reduction in the cost of premiums for those who work out regularly.

2. Ask for a Better Deal. If you’ve got great credit, call your credit card company and ask them to waive your yearly fee, and/or lower your interest rate. Many companies have recently raised interest rates and annual fees to exorbitant amounts to cover defaults by lousy credit risks. Why should you have to pay for someone else’s non-payment? If they won’t lower your rate, take a look at one of those hundreds of credit card pre-approval forms you get in the mail each week. One of those companies would be glad to have your business – usually at a bargain rate and no annual fee, at least for the first year.

3. Check Your Statements. You may be inclined to trust your bank or credit card company. After all, they’re the professionals, right? Wrong! They’re concerned about THEIR bottom line, not yours. So take it upon yourself to check your statements every month. In one year, my own credit card errors totaled over $500! In another episode, I was charged twice for a large item, one sale was voided at the register (I had the “void” slip to prove it), yet the void didn’t show on my statement online. I had to call the company to have the sale reversed.

If you believe there’s an error, contact the company immediately, even if the error is in your favor. If the problem is with a merchant, your credit card company will put a hold on the charge and work to resolve the problem with the merchant. This is also a great way to check for identity theft or anyone making charges on your accounts without your permission.

4. Pay Total Bill Each Month and Charge Everything. If you are the type who will pay off your bill every month and not allow the charges to carry over to the next billing period, charge everything! Not only will you have a paper trail of your purchases, many credit card companies offer buyer protection for items you’ve purchased with your card. In addition, you’ll also rack up those travel miles or points for purchases made, which you can cash in at holiday time to save on your gift-giving.

5. Question Every Expense. We often think we just can’t live without that unlimited Netflix account, or the gym membership, or the kids’ babysitting or daycare. But instead of taking everything as a given, go through your bills one by one and see what you could do if you HAD to cut your spending in half. Most people won’t be faced with that kind of drastic reduction in income, but many Americans are dealing with that very scenario right now.

Although you may never have to cut your spending using any extreme measures, reducing your monthly expenses eases the pocketbook so that if something does happen, you can be better prepared. Going through cost-cutting exercises will help you see that what you thought was essential really wasn’t, just in case you ever should need to cut back. Make even a few of these modest cuts and start saving money, and your budget, now.


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