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#1. Upgrade to energy efficient appliances

When it's time to replace an aging furnace, boiler, air conditioner, or water heater, invest in an Energy Star rated appliance. While this does come with a higher upfront cost, you can enjoy long-term savings for the next 10-15 years. Older furnaces use just 65% of the energy you pay for but new energy efficient models use 90% or more of the energy. You can also qualify for rebates from most Pennsylvania utility providers worth up to $300.

Photo: moneycrashers.com

#2. Shop around for car insurance

The average cost for collision and comprehensive auto insurance in Pennsylvania is $1,522 but the premium you pay depends on many factors like where you live, your driving history, your age, gender, and marital status, discounts, and the company. Shopping around for cheap car insurance in PA can help you save hundreds every year.


#3. Make more than the minimum payments on debt

Household debt in the United States is on the rise. The average new vehicle loan is more than $30,000 while the average student loan borrower owes $37,000 at graduation. The average household with credit card debt owes more than $9,000. That's a lot of debt that can hold you back, keep you from saving, and make it difficult to get out from under the debt.

 

 One of the easiest ways to save money is to always pay more than the minimum amount due on your loans, even if it's not a lot. This reduces your interest charges and even paying a little extra can shave years off the loan. If you're ready to get serious about paying off the debt for good, the most effective way is known as the snowball method which focuses on paying down the account with the smallest balance first before moving on to the next.


#4. Spend more time at home

If your budget is broken every month, it's probably due to eating out, going to the movies, parties, and other forms of entertainment outside of the house. Try committing to spending more time at home for a couple of months. Make it fun by hosting potlucks with your friends and movie nights at home. Instead of meeting friends at the bar or restaurant, have a pizza party at the house and make your own pizzas.


#5. Renegotiate your recurring contracts

A large chunk of your income probably goes toward recurring bills like your cell phone, internet, and cable TV. When your contract is close to expiring, negotiate for a better price or shop around. While providers are always running specials for new customers and advertising low rates, these teaser rates usually expire after a year. As an existing customer, you can pay less by simply asking.


#6. Refinance or consolidate debt

All types of debts can be refinanced or consolidated. With a mortgage, it's usually recommended to refinance if you can get a new interest rate at least 1% lower than what you pay now. You may need to pay closing costs upfront but they can also be rolled into your new loan to potentially shave anywhere from $50 to several hundred off your mortgage payment. You can also refinance other types of loans.

 

 With credit card debt, transferring the debt to a new low APR or 0% intro APR credit card can give you time to pay down the debt with no or very low interest charges. Just make sure you do the math with a balance transfer calculator because you may need to pay a balance transfer fee of around 3%. To demonstrate how much you can save, imagine you have a $9,000 balance on a card with a 16% interest rate. You can transfer the balance to a new card with a 0% intro APR for 18 months followed by a 13% interest rate. You have to pay a $270 balance transfer fee (3%) but the debt will be paid off in 48 months instead of 320 months with a savings of $6,749.

You can also consolidate multiple debts, even different types, into a new low interest loan for a single monthly payment and a lower interest rate.

Lee Flynn is from the Wasatch Mountains near Salt Lake City, UT. After Lee spent years preparing himself, his home and his family, he decided he had to do more. In his free time, Lee helps educate those who want to do the same. Through small local workshops and articles, Lee trains and teaches others on home preparation, food storage techniques, wilderness survival and self reliance. After obtaining a bachelors degree from the University of Utah, Lee moved to the Salt Lake Valley where he now lives with his wife and daughter.

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