This is a guest post by Jason D. Steele, who has been a personal finance writer for the blog at AskMrCreditCard.com since 2008. He also hosts his personal blog, Steele Street where he writes about Travel, Aviation, and Consumer Issues.
When you write about personal finance every day, you spend a lot of time thinking about new ways to save money. In practice, some of them end up being duds, while others have provided me with huge savings. So let’s skip the losing ideas and go straight to the ones that I live by.
I Need More Money! Tips To Keep More Of Your Money
1. Never Pay Interest On Your Credit Cards – Credit card debt is to your finances what smoking is to your health, the single most destructive habit that you should quit. Credit cards are a fantastic method of payment, but a terrible method of finance. Now that the CARD Act is law, we enjoy more protections against tricks and traps, but we do see higher interest rates (though low interest credit cards still exist). If you have credit card debt, hopefully some of my other money saving strategies will help you to get out of it. If you have no debt on your credit cards, you can shop around for the best reward cards, and earn free travel or cash back.
2. Do Not Pay Interest On Your Car – I love cars, and I love having a nice car. That said, I just can’t justify taking out a car loan. The terms are bad, and your car will always lose value over time. Unlike home loans or school loans, interest on a car loan is not tax deductible. While I don’t drive beat up jalopies, I certainly drive cars that cost less than what I could afford if I got a loan. In fact, I enjoy finding cool cars that are a few years old for half the price of a new one. If you have a car loan, pay it off and start saving up the difference between the value of the car you have, and the car you want. Ultimately, you will pay less in transportation costs while having one less bill to worry about every month.
3. Make Money On The Side – Obviously, I write about personal finance. In addition, I have been known to fix bicycles, provide flight instruction, and teach classes on computers. I purchase discount ski tickets in the fall and resell them in the winter for profit. I get paid to give my opinion to market researchers. I even sell the new cell phone I get when they offer me a free upgrade. I am constantly on the lookout to find new ways to profit off of whatever talents I have, and I typically earn a few thousand dollars a year doing so. You can also make money online in various ways.
4. Pinch Twenties, Not Pennies – I don’t spend all day clipping coupons for 50 cents off of this or a dollar off of that. I look for high value coupons. I rarely eat out without a $25 off certificate from Restaurant.com or a two for one coupon like those in the Entertainment book. I always visit the web site of a car repair company before I go there, as most have some sort of $25 coupon on them. By using coupons, I never pay full price for activities like skiing, visiting amusement parks, or other tourist attractions.
5. Manage Your Entertainment Dollar – I just can’t justify paying for cable TV and renting their DVR, so I cut the cable and built my own media server. I get my TV through free, high definition digital broadcast with a $20 antenna. What I don’t get over the air, I rent from Netflix or Redbox. I can stream content from various internet services such as Hulu, Netflix, and others. I also have no data plan on my cell phone. I sit in front of a computer all day, and I figure I do not need to carry one around with me anyways. No cable TV and no data plan save me about $1,000 a year.