Anyone looking to improve their financial situation knows the common steps to cut spending: eat out less frequently, skip the expensive lattes, limit shopping to the essentials by making a list before you hit the store, etc. Chances are, if you are trying to cut spending, whether to pay down debt, better live within your means, or save up for a rainy day or for a down payment on a home, you’re probably already taking these steps.
While these types of changes can put more cash in your pocket right away, there are some other changes you can make that will also give results immediately and also can have long term positive financial impact that you may not have considered.
One of the smartest things you can do to improve the health of your finances is to improve your physical health. While a gym membership may not fit your budget, even basic exercise like going for a walk has a positive impact on your physical and mental health, and costs much less than a movie ticket or a brunch date. Eating home cooked meals is healthier and much less expensive than eating out and, with a little planning, healthy foods don’t have to cost more. Plus the savings from cutting sugary drinks and alcohol out of your budget in favor of water can add up fast.
Healthcare costs add up quickly, so it’s no surprise that many health insurance companies offer financial incentives for healthy choices. Making your health a priority can make room in your weekly budget and help you to save big in the long run.
While everyone recognizes how impactful volunteering your time can be, it’s often overlooked as a potential way to save money. Volunteering is a free way to get exercise, join a community of people who share your interests, and to do something meaningful, even when you are unable give financially.
On top of it all, some volunteer organizations offer student loan forgiveness to their volunteers (check out SponsorChange.org as an example).
Few people realize that almost anything can be negotiated. Want to pay less on your cell phone bill and internet? When your contract is close to being up, call up a competitor, find out their rates, and contact your current provider to discuss reducing your rates. Owe on a credit card? Contact the company to negotiate interest rates if you’re willing to pay more than the minimum due each month.
It never hurts to ask the question, and many people pay far more than is required simply because they don’t ask the question in the first place.