Summer is almost over, and it may not just be your tan that’s starting to fade. Even your savings may be looking a little dull.
This carefree season often causes consumers to throw caution to the wind when it comes to budgeting, especially for families who try to make the most of the time kids are out of school. In fact, a 2020 study by LendEDU found that consumers spend an average of $2,229 in the summer, making it the second most expensive season of the year.
Not to mention, pent-up consumer demand from pandemic lockdowns exploded, causing a surge in spending. If you too felt like you went overboard, you may be wondering how you can get your money back in order.
Just follow these 4 financial detox tips and get your budget back on track this fall:
Before you begin paying down debt and rebuilding your savings, you have to figure out where you stand. And, though facing the financial damage can make you feel uneasy, it’s essential to making a plan. Begin by reviewing all your financial accounts and writing down how much you owe across your credit cards, taking note of interest rates and minimum payments for each. Then, determine which debt repayment plan you want to follow.
The Snowball Method prioritizes paying off the smallest balance first to build momentum and keep you motivated, while the Avalanche Method ensures you save more on interest by paying down the cards with the highest APRs first. Apps like Debt Free and Debt Payoff Assistant can help you create and track a debt repayment plan.
As you work to detox your finances, cleansing the waste from your budget will free up money that you can use towards various savings and other important purchases or expenses. Don’t think this means you have to make any major sacrifices, however. In many cases, you may be wasting money without even realizing it.
For example, if your cable and Internet package price went up, get on the phone to negotiate for a lower rate. You can even tap the experts at BillCutterz.com to help you secure a better deal. And, if you haven’t compared your auto insurance in a year or more, you are leaving money on the table. In fact, the 2017 Driving in America Report found that more than 1 in 3 Americans haven’t compared auto insurance costs or checked the price of their policy in at least 3 years which has cost them $416.52 a year in potential savings. The good news is, insurance comparison sites like TheZebra.com help you gather quotes quickly to see if you can get better coverage for less. Lastly, when was the last time you looked over all your memberships and subscriptions? Now’s the time to cancel the ones you don’t use or really need.
A recent study found that the average American has 4 credit cards. Though there is no right number of cards a person should have as that is dependent on a person’s financial goals and needs, carrying too many can easily lead to overspend. The more credit cards you have, the harder it is to keep up with everything you’re charging and the faster debt will mount. Now’s a good time to declutter your wallet and use just one credit card to optimize rewards earning. With one credit card, you can see all your charges in one place so you know if you’re spending more than you should. Plus, this will ensure you can earn maximum cashback or miles for all your purchases.
This is also a good time to consider getting a new credit card especially when it comes to ensuring you’re earning the most back for the types of purchases you make. For help, turn to a credit card matching tool like GigaPoints.com which analyses your spending history and will recommend a card that offers maximum cashback, points or miles based on your spending habits.
Rebuilding your savings is crucial for financial security, especially when you consider how expensive some emergencies can be such as a trip to the hospital for a broken bone, car accident or leaky roof. If you dipped into savings this summer, it’s time to restore it. Begin by automating transfers from your checking account to a separate saving account so it’s out of sight and out of mind. Better yet, open a high yield online savings account where you will earn more back on your savings. If you don’t have enough wiggle room in your current budget, consider how you can boost your savings efforts with a side gig.
There are so many flexible side hustles you can do right from home in your spare time. If you enjoy animals, for example, try pet sitting. Sites like Rover.com say you can make up to $1,000 a month for watching someone’s dog or cat and you can even do this during the week if you are still working remotely. Other ideas include virtual tutoring through sites like VarsityTutors.com or running errands for people in your neighborhood through TaskRabbit.com. Then, put all the extra money you make toward your savings.
Andrea Woroch is a nationally recognized money-saving expert, writer, speaker and frequent on-air contributor who is passionate about helping American families find simple ways to save more without radically changing their lifestyle. Andrea has appeared on hundreds of popular shows across the country including Today, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, CNN, Inside Edition and ABC World News, plus hundreds of regional shows across the country. Her advice and articles have been featured in the New York Times, Time, Money, Cosmopolitan, Forbes, Huffington Post and many more. When Andrea is sharing advice on budgeting or smart shopping, she’s busy chasing after her two young daughters. Read more about Andrea at andreaworoch.com and follow her on Instagram for daily money tips.