Today’s economy has changed daily life a lot for the average American family. Many families are no longer content to use their credit cards as an emergency fund or to trust that their job will last until they retire. Because of these changes, many families are looking to save more money and create new income streams.
Developing a plan to cover as many situations as possible should be the goal of any family that is looking to increase their security. These tips can help you when putting you are putting together your new budget.
1. Pay off any debt that isn’t your mortgage. While this can take years, each debt you pay off will not only save you hundreds in interest charges, but it will also eliminate a bill you have to budget for. Go ahead and pay off your credit cards, personal loans, and your car. Once you have your car paid off, be sure to notify your insurance company. Some companies offer a discount if you hold the title for your car.
2. Speaking of insurance, make sure you’re not paying too much. Take a few minutes to look up vehicle insurance rates online. If you haven’t shopped around for insurance in several years, you might be surprised at how much you could save. Recent deregulation has made the industry much more competitive, providing lower rates for many people. As your family changes, be sure to shop around again.
3. Keep at least two months’ worth of your family’s general expenses in your checking account. While plenty of financial advisors want you to have an emergency fund, they never tell you where to put it. By keeping at least this much money in a checking account, you’re giving yourself the security of knowing that you won’t bounce a check, even if you forget to note something in your check log. Keeping a large amount in your account can also exempt you from having to pay a lot of bank fees at many financial institutions.
4. Really think about signing up for additional services. The average number of monthly bills that a typical family has to pay every month has more than doubled since the 1980s. A lot of this increase is due to the rise of subscription services for things such as cable television, movie rentals, and cell phone service. Companies offering these services advertise that they cost nothing to start, but they can cost thousands of dollars over the life of the contract. Furthermore, if you are ever in a position where you have to cut expenses, these contracts are notoriously hard to get out of. Really think about if a subscription is worth paying for. If you do decide to start a contract, remember to include it as a necessary expense when calculating how much you need in an emergency fund.