1) Avoid Fees, Fees, and More Fees
Those pesky charges can come in various forms, from incurring late and overdraft fees, ATM transaction fees, check cashing fees and payday lender fees. These fees make some banks and private companies wealthy, leaving many wallets dry, especially in low-income areas. According to this FDIC survey, 7.7 percent or 1 in 13 households were unbanked in the country, and 20 percent were underbanked, meaning they were relying on alternatives outside of a bank’s financial services. However, in some urban centers, individuals prefer check cashing stores over banks, as told in this article. That said, user fees for quick services have cost customers $89 billion in interest and other charges. “Why pay any more than you have to?” It is true that it is difficult to find banks with free or low fee checking accounts that require no minimal balance. For low-income earners, any fee may be too much and discretionary income non-existent. Unfortunately, this is the reality for millions of Americans that are living paycheck to paycheck, but there are alternatives.
As a teacher, you have access to some of the best Credit Unions. Nerd Wallet, has listed their favorite Credit Unions according to the perks they offer. Check it out here Many Teacher Credit Unions have opened membership to none teachers as well. Check out this link to learn more. This Time On Line Magazine article provides some additional alternatives as well.
2) Remove Unauthorized Charges On The Phone Bill
The practice of illegally placing unauthorized charges on a phone bill is known as cramming. This practice first occurred on landlines and has now moved to wireless. This is often done through bundled services offered through third parties. Several major carriers have come under fire for doing this to customers, leaving the companies owing millions of dollars in settlements, according to the FCC. This Washington Post Article provides further detail on the subject and here is more information on cramming as well as the contact information to file a complaint if you think you’ve been wrongfully charged with a cramming fee. Consumers are advised to read their statements carefully, and note anything like “membership” or “premium service fees” or any other odd, unrecognizable and vague wording, that could be one of these charges.
3) Kids Will Be Kids…Do They Have Access To Your Digital Accounts?
Are your children charging purchases to your credit card by shopping on your digital device? It is always important to understand who has access to and who is using your money. There are numerous on-line gaming items, digital music downloads, and apps that might entice your child to click “purchase,” without your approval. This Consumer Reports Article describes how one Major company made millions on fees off of children enticed by gaming options. Talk to your kids about online shopping and set limits and control access to spending. They might night see the dollars, but you’ll notice! Here are some other tips from Bankaroo you might find helpful.
4) Save Money With Your Library
Use digital downloads, free Wi-Fi, and if you have late fees, perhaps pay them in a unique way. Rent more stuff for free, from audiobooks to digital downloads, Libraries are following the non-paper trend, letting patrons have access to various material and services at low or no cost. If the services aren’t free, there are often discounts on them. As a patron, take use of services and catalogues accessible from home. (Save a few gas dollars by not taking a trip to the library) This Digital Trends article, highlights a new program, where libraries in New York will be letting individuals rent mobile hotspots, providing access to the Internet to those who can’t afford it.
Library late fees may be costly! Fees in Johnson City, Tennessee added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars, which patrons theoretically owe the region, according to this News Channel 11 article. Libraries in Coeur D’Alene, Idaho have come up with a unique solution to get patrons with late fees to come back without the fear of going broke. They will allow patrons to donate food for shelters and pets, in lieu of paying their late fees, for a few weeks in March 2015.
5) Traffic Violations: Fight Sometimes, But Don’t Ever Take Flight!
There was a time when I got a ticket at the beach. “My personal excuse?” I was in the parking lot, but the lines weren’t very clear. As we were packing up to head home, I saw the ugly-looking ticket on the window, but I was determined not to let it ruin the summer day. After carefully looking it over and finding some mistakes, I entered my defense into the New York online system, explaining each detail, and the fee of over $100 was waived, to my relief. However, it is best to avoid costly driving errors. According to this NBC News article, speeding 16 – 30 mph over the limit can raise insurance rates by nearly 30 percent; and reckless driving by over 80 percent, according to the national averages. But don’t worry; teachers drive the speed limit, especially in school zones, don’t they?
6) Wasted Food
There’s a little trick or rather a tip that some in the fitness world use. It is to make carefully planned and executed, homemade meals during a food preparation session, for a few hours out of one day a week. Would this leave the rest of your week worry-free, so you can stick to your financial and fitness goals? There are tons of people sharing recipes, storage tips and preparation techniques like this woman here. Wasting food, or over and under buying and not using within the expiration date can cost up to 15 percent of a household budget. Have good homemade, ready to go meals, and you won’t have to ask yourself at the crack of dawn, before school, “What’s for lunch?”
7) Mindless Snacking
This goes the same route as preparing meals and knowing where each dollar goes. If you have a habit of eating processed snacks on the go, or grabbing the same junk food items every day, consider replacing even just one a day and drink more water instead! Can you drink your recommended amount of water each day? Can your friends form an accountability group with you? Put the money saved on not buying snacks into the 52-week savings plan featured in tip #8, you’ll be glad you did.
8) Lottery Tickets Are Only Worth It If You Win!
Lottery Commissions issue a lot of big statements about people winning big, and they play on people’s dreams of immediate financial freedom, however, you are more likely to be struck by lightning, then see a windfall. Instead of spending money on lotto tickets, try this savings technique from The 52 Week Savings Plan: Starting with a dollar in the first week, steadily increase your dedicated savings by one more dollar each week, their plan boasts that you can rack up over $1000 in savings by the end of the year. The year is already flying by, but you can probably jump in at any time.
9) Know Before You Go – Double Check Prices
Maybe you won’t make the same mistake as this customer did in a restaurant, when he asked for what he thought was a $37.50 bottle of wine for the table. In actuality, the cost was a whopping $3,750! All in all, clarify prices before a purchase, and if you aren’t sure about an unexpected fee or service, just say no before the process is complete, or in this case, before the cork is removed from the bottle.
10) Early To Bed, Early To Rise Makes a (person) Healthy, Wealthy and Wise
Does it? Many suggest a link between lack of sleep and gaining weight, cranky moods and shorter attention spans, which is probably why many advocate for later start times for teenagers in high schools, according to this Sleep Review post. Sleep is not just a necessity for growing teens; we all need a good nights rest! Sleep deprivation not only takes a toll on your body, but it can impact your wallet as well. Check out this article to learn more. Consumers have to be on top of their spending and use of time, and you need to be well rested in order to do so.
Teachers, are you currently pursuing these ideas and other ways of saving money? Do you have tricks that are helping you reach financial success? Tell us at TeacherCents and share your comments below.
Melissa Heule, Freelance Writer