Similar to lifting couch cushions in search of loose change, a fiscal clean-up day can mean extra money with minimal effort. Here are seven key tasks that can net you just as much cash as that ever-elusive promotion at work or that windfall that never seems to fall on your doorstep. Dedicate a day to your fiscal health, and enjoy money-saving goodness all year long.
You don’t have to go Martha-Stewart style here, but one of the best ways to ensure you’re being smart with your money is to organize them. Create a budget, know how much debt you’re in and which to pay down first, and track your monthly spending. Online personal finance managers like Mint.com, Wesabe.com make most of these tasks easy. I personally organize all of my finances manually using Excel, but I’m old-school like that. Do whatever works for you. The key is to know where your finances stand and create a plan to improve them. Get the big picture, then set goals that you can stick to.
Shop for Cheaper Insurance
I hate shopping for insurance. I can’t stand the term “deductible,” “collision,” or “premium.” Ick. But, insurance is a necessary evil in life and finding good coverage at a low price is the goal. I don’t want to sound like a Geico ad, but I recently did save $652 per year by switching to Geico from Esurance. Get a quote from at least two different companies to see how they stack up to your current insurer. If you find a better deal, there’s usually no penalty to switch mid-term from one insurer to the other. Your current insurer should simply refund you a pro-rated amount.
Contact Your Creditors
Are you struggling with paying your mortgage, credit card, or other monthly loans? Try calling the lender and asking for a short-term interest rate reduction. Believe it or not, your creditors would rather cut you a deal than have you skip out on payment entirely. And it’s in your best interest to continue to make payments to keep your credit intact.
Evaluate Your Cable Package and Other Monthly Services
Do you really need that extensive cable package and a Netflix subscription? I recently saved $25 a month by removing the premium channels from my cable line-up, and now rely on my Netflix subscription for all my favorite HBO shows. I also recently chucked my ground line, saving even more money. I was only getting sales calls on it anyway; everyone I care about reaches me on my cell.
Remember Hidden Money
Don’t lose track of gift cards, store credit receipts, and valuable coupons. Also make sure you keep track of all of your bank accounts. I recently remembered a certificate of deposit my brother had gifted me on my 21st birthday from when I lived in another state. The bank is happy to hold onto your funds; it’s your job to make sure you don’t lose sight of smaller accounts and stock holdings. Try a site like MissingMoney.com to search for unclaimed assets with your name on them.
Do a Clean Sweep
I’m kind of a neat freak, so going through closets and turning junk I’m not using into cash is kind of a pastime for me. I prefer turning over saleable items to consignment stores or posting on eBay or Craigslist instead of hosting a garage sale, which is a lot of work that could prove in vain if it rains or there is a low turn-out.
Use the internet to find the best deal
Money-saving sites like BillShrink are great for helping you scope out the best deals on savings accounts, CDs, credit cards, and wireless service. In this day and age, you have so many more options than simply going to your local bank. The internet puts an excess of choice right at our fingertips. Relying on a site like BillShrink is key to stretching your dollar as far as it will go.
Carrie Davis is a personal finance blogger at SpendOnLife.com, a site dedicated to giving readers accurate information about credit, debt, and identity theft. She is FCRA-certified and has a passion for educating others on how to achieve financial independence. Follow Carrie through the SpendOnLife RSS feed or on Twitter @SpendOnLife.