Across all generational brackets, research shows that Americans have a difficult time saving money. Before the pandemic, 29 percent of U.S. adults were unable to put any of their finances into savings, Pew Research points out, and 31 percent can save even less now in light of COVID-19. About half of all Americans agree their financial situation has worsened since 2020, and 44 percent believe it will take at least three years for them to rebound.
The data shows that money saving difficulties can affect people of any age, race, gender or income level—although racial minorities and low socioeconomic communities tend to fare the worst. It’s unclear when the economy itself will recover fully, but in the meantime, you can take steps right now to curb spending, save money and feel more in control of your finances. Here are four money saving tips for all ages to follow:
Review Your Health Insurance Needs.
The global crisis of these past two years has brought into sharp relief just how crucial it is to have reliable health insurance. But when was the last time you looked at how much your health insurance costs? If you can’t afford the premiums of your current plan, search for a budget-friendlier alternative that still meets your health insurance needs in the ACA Marketplace. The cost of an ACA plan varies based on where you live, how old you are, the amount of coverage, the number of recipients, and if your income qualifies you for tax subsidies. You can also choose a plan with a high deductible to lower monthly premiums even further, but this could incur more out-of-pocket fees at the doctor’s office or pharmacy.
Evaluate Hidden Fees at Your Bank.
It’s also important to be aware of charges from your bank that can accrue over time without you even noticing. If your current bank imposes fees for maintenance, ATM withdrawals, overdrafts, stop payments, transfers, minimum balance, card replacements and other account services on you, it’s time for a new bank. Research what’s available to find a bank that will not charge you hidden fees to manage your own finances. Whether you choose a large commercial bank, a small credit union or a fully mobile option, you can save a considerable amount of cash each month just by eliminating those service and transaction fees. It can be a hassle to close your account and open one elsewhere, but it’s worth the extra legwork.
Pay Off Credit Card Bills Each Month.
If you use a credit card for major purchases or to accumulate rewards points, make sure to pay off the entire balance each month. When you miss a billing cycle or an outstanding transaction carries over into the next month, you’ll be charged interest and, in some cases, a late fee. So making payments on time and in full ensures this won’t happen. For larger balances that you can’t afford to pay off in one billing cycle, don’t wait until the end of that next month to take care of the remaining balance. Move the payment date to mid-month which will lower your average daily balance and, therefore, curb the interest rate. Credit card overuse is also a leading cause of debt, so don’t make swiping that plastic too frequent of a habit.
Conserve Energy Around the House.
Based on a recent poll from the green tech company Arcadia, the number of U.S. households with past-due utility bills increased by 73 percent in 2021, and the average balance is about $885. With all the time spent at home over these last couple years, it makes sense that you might use more electricity, water and other utilities now than in the past, but if these energy costs have become unaffordable, find ways to cut back. Here’s a list of simple, accessible strategies for how to do this—and keep in mind, it’s eco-friendly too!
- Turn off the lights in unoccupied rooms and use high-efficiency bulbs.
- Conserve running water in the laundry room, kitchen and bathrooms.
- Hang clothes outside to airdry rather than overusing the dryer.
- Adjust the thermostat higher in the summer and lower in the winter.
- Unplug electronics and appliances when they’re not in use.
- Make sure that all ceiling fan blades turn in the right direction.
- Power down the TV and set the computer to “sleep mode” each night.
Saving Money Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult.
No matter how old you are and how much you have in the bank right now, it’s never too late to work on your saving habits. Whether it’s an extra $20 or $200 each month, saving money is important for all ages and walks of life, but it doesn’t have to be stressful or difficult. Just review your current expenses and lifestyle routines, then be on the lookout for simple changes or adjustments that can lead to more financial freedom in the long-term.