McLEAN, Va. (3/17/15)--If you have a tight budget, the thought of finding any extra money can seem unrealistic. But with a few minor tweaks, it might be easier than you think to curb spending (USA Today March 8).
Scrutinize your spending patterns and obligations and you might find simple ways to cut down on debt and actually save money in the long run:
Consolidate debt. Sometimes the key to paying down debt can be as simple as combining it. By consolidating your loans, you might be able to save on interest rates, simplify monthly payments, and actually start saving money. Debt consolidation isn't for everyone--if you know you will use it an opportunity to run up more debt, consolidation is not for you. Talk to a credit union loan specialist to see if consolidation is a good move for you and your finances.
Refinance your house and car. Refinancing your house or car can free up money that you can put toward other bills or put into savings. A credit union loan officer can determine if you qualify for lower rates.
Revisit insurance policies. Compare policies. Check the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website for price comparisons and Insurance Information Institute for advice about picking reputable companies. Consider raising deductibles. Ask about discounts for kids away at college and not using vehicles, and about good student discounts for kids in high school.
Go green. Be environmentally conscious and save money while doing so. Programmable thermostats, fluorescent and LED bulbs, and window coverings are options that can help you save energy--and money. Go green at the credit union as well. Signing up for automatic loan payments might qualify you for lower loan rates. Using automatic bill pay will help you make consistent progress toward financial goals and help avoid late fees. Choosing e-delivery of statements, newsletters and other correspondence is a great "green" option as well.
For related information, read "Practical Ways to Save Money" in the Home & Family Finance Resource Center.