Save on Loans, Credit Cards, and Bank Fees
Comparison Shop - Shop around to find the lowest rates and fees and read the fine print. Find out ahead of time if the rates/fees you are looking at are introductory and what they will go up to after the period expires. Check to see if there are penalties for paying early or late. You can also attempt to negotiate lower rates or a balance reduction if you are a good customer that pays your bills on time.
Pay Extra on Accounts that Charge Interest - With any account you have (loan, medical debt, credit card, etc) that is charging you interest, pay extra on those accounts. The sooner you can pay them off, the less interest you will be paying back, and the more money you will save in the long term. If you can only afford to pay extra on one account, start with the account that has the highest interest rate and/or longest term. Even if it's only a little extra, every little bit counts. Be sure to know the rules of the company you have the account with. Some companies require you to list how much of the payment you submitted is to be applied to the principal, otherwise they can and will apply the extra to the interest instead. Applying payments directly to the principal lowers the base amount that the interest is being applied to and in turn saves you money by lowering how much in interest you will pay over the term.
Save on College
Apply for State & Federal Aid (FAFSA) - Not all schools or programs qualify, but if they do, applying for state and federal aid can save you significantly. The FAFSA application is free.
Apply for Scholarships & Tuition Assistance - Check with the schools you are interested in for any scholarships they may offer. Also, some employers and organizations offer private scholarships for their employees and members, and most employers offer tuition assistance to those that qualify.
Look for Sponsorships - Check with area employers for sponsorships. Some employers that tend to have a continual high need for certain job types, can sometimes offer sponsorships to help pay tuition in exchange for employment with them after graduation. Be sure to read the terms carefully before applying or accepting.
Save & Pay for Other Expenses
How to Save & Pay for Other Large Expenses (Christmas, Taxes, Emergency Fund) - Other than using the savings you have accumulated by utilizing the tips listed above, here are a few other tips for larger expenses:
Free Layaway - Gearing up for Christmas? Use layaway to make smaller payments and not have to risk your gift items selling out before you can pay it in full. Many layaway programs are now free, but be sure to get all the details. Find out what happens to your items and previous payments if you miss a payment. Also, stick to a budget. Just because you don't have to pay it all up front does not give you an excuse to spend beyond your means. Additionally, do not use credit cards for gift purchases, it will only perpetuate your debt issues and it will not help you meet your savings goals.
Whittle Away at Larger Debts - Figure out where you can save money and set a budget to pay for larger debts (ex: tax bills, emergency funds). For things like property tax bills that come around once every year or setting up emergency funds, set an estimated goal and break it down. For a tax bill, base your estimate about $100-200 higher than your last 3 bills. For something like a medical emergency fund, consider using the same (or higher) amount than your yearly deductible or get an estimate based on your previous yearly out of pocket expenses. Divide your estimated goal by 12 months, then do the best you can to set that money aside each month. If you typically get a bonus of some sort every year or tax refund, you can use those funds to add to your savings. This same process can also be used to accumulate extra funds for retirement.
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