5 ways to save money without cutting into your lifestyle – Forbes Advisor
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A growing number of financial experts are suggesting that a recession is on the horizon, which could prompt you to batten down the financial hatches and start saving more. But most “how to save money” tips tell you to cut out anything fun from your budget, which doesn’t sound like fun at all.
Is it possible to maintain your lifestyle and save money at the same time? The answer is yes, with time (and initial expense) on your part.
You don’t have to stop shopping at your favorite stores or cancel all your streaming services. The five ways to save money below can save you money without sacrificing your lifestyle.
1. Rethink your cell phone bill
In 2018, Americans paid on average $157 per month for their cell phone bill, with today’s averages almost certainly on the rise. However, you could reap some serious savings if you’re willing to get creative with your cell phone spending.
Switch to another operator
Gone are the days of having to go to one of the major mobile carriers like AT&T or Verizon. New Scrappy mobile carriers are plentiful, and some have networks powered by larger companies. They also make it easy to transfer your phone number.
While your best choice for another cellular carrier may depend on where you live, always explore online reviews specific to your city before committing to a new plan.
With some alternative carriers, you might also experience slower data speeds than you would as a subscriber on the main network. For example, even though Visible is running on the Verizon network, a Visible customer would likely have slightly slower data speeds than a Verizon customer. The reason is simple: Verizon Serves Verizon Customers First.
Here’s what you can expect to pay for an unlimited talk, text, and data plan with three different mobile carriers:
- Wireless Cricket (AT&T Network): $55/month, $50/month with autopay
- Google Fi (T-Mobile and Sprint networks): $50/month
- Mint Mobile (T-Mobile network): $30/month for a 90-day prepaid plan
- Visible (Verizon network): $40/month
Build your own “Family and Friends” plan
If you’re single and jealous that your friends can enjoy great rates on a friend and family plan, it’s time to start your own family. Gone are the days when a “family” cell plan meant everyone on the plan had to live together. Today, some cell phone providers allow you to create a group plan without this “same household” restriction.
Here are a few providers ready to help you save:
- Google Fi: Reduce your bill from $50/month to $20/line when you form a group of four.
- Mint: Each member of your “family” can choose the plan that best suits their use instead of everyone having to choose the same plan.
- Visible: You can reduce the price of the unlimited plan from $40/month to $25/month if you use the Party payment option.
When creating your own group plan or joining a group, consider the members of the plan carefully and try to stick with people you know well. Otherwise, you may end up paying more than your fair share if someone leaves the plan or doesn’t pay their bill. There is also the risk of sending money to an untrustworthy plan holder who runs away with your money.
2. Try a bill trading app
Let’s say you’re not ready to switch cell phone providers, or just want to jump into one of the lesser-known “how to save money” strategies. In that case, Lauren Anastasio, director of financial advice for Stash, an investment and banking app, says bill trading apps can help you save money without forcing you to switch providers.
“[These apps] can help you identify recurring expenses that you may have overlooked,” she says. “They’ll also offer to negotiate the price for some of your services, which can reduce the cost of bills that you can’t cut out of your budget,” she says. Daily bills that these services can negotiate include cable, internet, cellular, security system, and satellite radio.
Before signing up for these services, read the costs. These companies make money by charging a percentage of the bill or the total savings they negotiate. For example, Trim charges 15% of the first year savings they bring you. BillShark charges 40% of the savings they trade.
Invoice negotiation services could be the ideal solution if you are more interested in saving than saving time, especially if the long-term savings far outweigh the costs. For a real look at fees and potential savings, check out reviews on a site like Trustpilot can help.
3. Buy discounted gift cards from your favorite stores
Instead of keeping tabs on sales at your favorite stores, make your own sale by buying discounted gift cards.
Online gift card marketplaces like Giftcardwiki, Increase and CardCash can help you identify the best deals for the type of gift card you need (in-store or online use only). You could save big at top stores like Home Depot, Target, and even Apple with just a few clicks.
And if you can’t stand to part with that cup of Starbucks every morning, you might save more than 10% on your favorite infusion. Then load the gift card on your app to get those loyalty stars.
4. Buy your streaming subscriptions
If you’ve ever been frustrated that new subscribers to your favorite streamer are getting a better rate than you as a loyal customer, save your money by shopping for streamer comparisons.
A number of publications, including CNET and US News & World Report, publish lists of the best streaming services for many popular services such as Hulu and Starz. These lists also typically include ways to bundle streamers together for savings and ways to get free streaming subscriptions as a perk with some cable TV subscriptions.
If you see a rate drastically lower than your current bill for the same streamer, here’s a tip: cancel your service. You can sign up at a lower rate using a different email address. Even if you only save $6 a month on Hulu, that’s $72 a year that you can use to fund your IRA.
Read more: How to keep your streaming subscription costs under control
5. Bundle your insurance policies
If you have auto and home insurance policies issued by different companies, Katie Ross, executive vice president of the nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling, suggests exploring policy bundling for some serious savings.
“Some companies offer discounts if you have two or more policies,” she says.
For example, Allstate advertises savings of up to 25% on several policies, and American Family Insurance offers savings of up to 28% to its customers.
When considering bundling cost savings, be sure to keep the same coverage or get better coverage, especially if you change insurance companies.
Read more: How bundling home and auto insurance saves money