10 Ways To Save Real Money

The champagne is dry and crusty, and all the hundred-dollar bills used to light cigars have crumbled into ash. It’s time to tighten our belts and get real about spending less and saving more. Here’s 10 ways to save some serious cash…

10. Got any bank fees? Ask the bank to waive one as a courtesy
Most banks will give you at least one courtesy fee waive per year, but they won’t do it unless you ask ’em first.

9. Lower Your APR by threatening to switch to another credit card company
Try saying this: “I think I’ve been a good customer. I’d like to stay with you, but I really want you to lower the rate on my card. Can you help me?”

8. Use a 0% balance transfer to get a reprieve from credit card interest for a few months
Many credit card companies offer 0% balance transfer deals where you can move your balance from another company’s card to theirs, and enjoy 0% APR for a few months. Be careful to read all the rules though, because if you break some of them, you can shoot back up to your old rate or higher. Also the 0% is for a limited time, so mark your calendar and be prepared to shift your funds again.

7. Lower your cable bill by threatening to cancel
Many of our readers have had success with this one. Mention competing offers you’ve researched and ask for them to give you a reason to stick around.

6. Get your spending under control so you’re paying off your credit card in full every month, and avoid paying extra interest
If you carrying a balance and paying finance charges on it, it amounts to an extra tax on everything you purchased. Why should you pay someone for your own money?

5. Pack your own lunch, make your own coffee, cook at home
Eating out is expensive, and those lattes add up. Rediscover the joy of cooking and you’ll feel enriched in more ways than just your pocketbook.

4. Adjust your tax withholdings so you’re not giving the IRS an interest-free loan
If you get a big ol rebate from the IRS, you may be claiming too few withholdings. I’m sure you know many better things to do with that money throughout the year than the IRS does. Here’s how to do it.

3. Take advantage of new low interest rates by refinancing your home to a lower rate
Pay a little less each month and that can add up to several thousands of dollars in savings over the life of the loan.

2. Switch to paying for most things in cash only…
Money hurts more. Pay for things in physical cash and you may find yourself making better purchase decisions.
…And then put all your pocket change in a piggy bank
The piggy bank can now become your Wii fund, or your vacation fund, or your new wardrobe fund. When it gets full, take it to Commerce Bank’s Penny Arcade and cash it in for free.

1. Make a budget
Simply monitoring your money forces you to be wiser with how you use it. I consider the personal budget the financial dashboard to making sure I’m master of my money instead of the other way around. Here’s a few tools to get you started:

Consumerist’s 9-Step Beginner’s Budget
An excel sheet I made that does the job rather well, if I may say so myself.
The Zero Based Budget
The idea behind it is that every single dollar you earn will get allocated to a specific category. There is no money sloshing around, you have total mastery over all of your money.
How To Budget With An Irregular Income
Most budgets assume a steady paycheck, but if your income comes in spurts, here’s a great way to still keep your bills paid and your money under control.
8 Free Personal Finance Management Programs (And 4 Pay Ones)
A roundup of Consumerist reader’s favorite budget tools.

(Photo: Getty)