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It's highly unlikely that any of your providers (like your cell phone or cable company) will call you up and tell you that you’ve qualified for a discount or that they have lower rates available. You need to contact them if you’re looking to for a discount. Call your internet, cable, and cell phone provider at least once a year to make sure you’re getting the best possible deal. You should do this especially if you notice your bill is creeping up. You should also research to see what their competitors are charging and then ask your companies if they will match those rates. The worst thing that can happen is that you get turned down, but at least you’ll know what other companies are offering. Then, when renewal time rolls around, you might make some changes.
Save enough to cover at least a month
Have you read any books about finances? If so, you've probably read that you need to save enough money to cover three to six months of your expenses. That can feel like an impossible goal at times. So, set a smaller goal. It can feel powerful to have even just one month of your living expenses saved up. This will help you cover some emergencies and should eliminate the need to take out one of those costly payday loans. If even this goal seems unattainable, start with whatever you feel you can afford. This could be as little as one dollar a day. Apps are available that could help such as Digit or Acorns as they automate the saving process. For example, if you choose Digit, the app will check your spending habits every couple of days. If you can afford it, Digit will then transfer a few dollars from your checking account to your Digit account. This makes saving practically painless. Finally, if you receive a big windfall of some kind, like a tax refund or a bonus, set the money aside to help with your savings goal.
Start tracking your spending
If you get a case of the heebie-jeebies when you hear the word budget, there’s an alternative: tracking your spending. It’s just easier to manage your money once you know where your cash is going. You may think you know what you’re spending on groceries or gasoline. But you may be surprised at what you learn after you’ve tracked your spending for 30 days or so. Apps and websites are available that can make tracking your spending painless. Two of the most popular of these are Mint and You Need a Budget. Mint will not just track your spending; it will even divide it into categories such as groceries, transportation, clothing, etc. If you don’t want to fuss with an app, you can track your spending by sitting down once a week and reviewing your online statements.
If you'd like more details about tracking your spending, here's a video that goes into a little more detail:
Regardless of which method you choose, the important thing is to review your spending so that it lines up with your expectations. This may also show areas where you could cut back on your spending so you’d have more money for saving.
No matter how bleak things may look, take heart. There are steps you can take that won’t cost you a cent but could make things better. All that’s required is some time, effort, and self-discipline.