By Deanne Gage
We’re now in week four of small ideas for carving some money from your budget and keeping more cash in the bank. Here are two simple things you can do this week to save more money.
• Consider no-fee rewards cards
Once upon a time, “no annual fee” was my sole criteria for a credit card. Then I got wiser. Why not use a no-fee credit card that also lets you collect rewards and points toward other items?
For years, I had a rewards credit card and proceeded to rack up a slew of miles. But travel is non-existent in our family these days, so it’s a good thing the miles provide access to things beyond flights, hotels and car rentals. I’ve cashed in my accumulated miles to ease the burden of rising everyday expenses like gas and groceries. Since entertainment can also cost a bundle, I’ve also redeemed movie passes and theatre tickets for cheaper date nights.
Today, I have a no-fee, cash-back credit card that pays me, on average, $450 a year for simply using the card. My daughter’s daycare—whose fees at one time rivalled my mortgage—takes credit cards as payment, so I put those payments on that card.
Two caveats: If you use this strategy, only make purchases that you would make anyway (like my daycare fees), instead of racking up a bunch of charges to get more points. To come ahead, you’d also pay off your balance in full every month.
To figure out what type of credit card would work best for you, check out this piece from MoneySense magazine.
• Closely examine your bills
Last week, I talked about things you’ve paid for years without questioning whether they still made sense. This reasoning goes triple for bills. Take the time to read all the charges, not just the final amount owed. Our monthly gas bill, for instance, also had a “home service charge” that paid for our annual furnace maintenance. Also, if anything went wrong with our furnace or hot water tank, service workers would fix the problem with no additional charges required. Definitely came in handy when our 20-year-old furnace quit twice in the last six years. Just one thing: we now have a new combo furnace and tankless hot water system that’s under warranty, which means it’s no longer necessary to service the furnace every year. So, despite protests from the gas company, we cancelled this home service charge pronto.
Think about your cable, Internet and cellphone bills, which seem to sprout up new charges every few months. You may decide you don’t need all the channels or features being offered and lower your overall cost.
For more easy money-saving tips, check out these posts:
Deanne Gage has written about all matters financial since 1999. She writes, edits and strategizes out of her Toronto home that’s partially under construction. Besides money issues, she enjoys running fast, jazz music and drinking a quality glass of Merlot. Her two-year-old daughter is quite familiar with money: she borrows it from mom’s wallet for her toy cash register.
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