(BPT) - By Grant Sabatier
This blog post is sponsored by Total Wireless
The end of the year is often stressful with holiday travel and higher expenses, and it's likely to be extra stressful this year with all the hardships of 2020.
But going into the holidays is actually the perfect time to revisit your bigger expenses and look for extra savings, so you can lower your expenses and tackle the holidays with confidence.
It’s also a great time to review your spending because it’s the end of the year, so you can review where your money went and plan for the upcoming year. The holidays tend to be a reflective time, so it’s a great opportunity to think about whether your expenses made your life better.
While most people think about money as a numbers game, I like to think of it as a happiness game. To figure out if an expense was or is worth it, I always ask myself, “Did this make me happy?” While far from a scientific exercise, I’m always trying to maximize my “happiness per dollar.”
Here are five of your biggest expenses that are worth reviewing this holiday season.
You can always save the most money where you spend the most money. Hands down the biggest expense for most Americans is the roof over their heads. Whether you’re renting or own your home, the monthly cost of your mortgage or rent is likely 30%-50% of your annual expenses.
Especially this year, the recession has opened a number of opportunities to reduce your housing expense. Most companies are allowing employees to work remotely, and that’s a shift that’s likely to stick. Moving to a lower cost area can reduce all of your expenses, especially your housing. Look to the suburbs and small American cities for the biggest savings.
2. Cell Phone Bill
The average American family spends almost $2,000 a year on their family cell phone plans. But this is an expense that is easy to reduce quickly. There are now so many cell phone providers, which has reduced the cost of high-quality services and phones.
There are also great providers who don’t require a contract. It’s worth spending 20 minutes this holiday to price compare your cell phone plan against some of the no-contract wireless service providers.
I recommend Total Wireless, where you can save up to $1,200 for a 4-line plan with unlimited>> talk, text and data. Total Wireless runs on the Verizon network, but at a fraction of the cost. And with its no fees phone payment plan, you can get the latest smartphones starting at just $5 per month, so you can treat yourself and your family this holiday without spending a fortune.
For more information on how to save on your wireless bill while still getting the best reliability in wireless, head to TotalWireless.com, or follow the brand at @totalwireless for the latest updates.
The second biggest expense category for most Americans is transportation. Cars are extremely expensive, both to buy and to maintain. It costs the approximately $9,272 a year to own a car in the U.S.
Especially since the work from home shift is likely to continue, I encourage you to think about how you use your car. If you no longer commute to work and spend more time locally, think about biking or using rideshare services. If you want to own a car, consider buying a used reliable car, which you can often find for less than $3,000 online. Search for a car that fits within your lifestyle. It’s never been easier to find a great deal with the price transparency online.
Americans are spending an insane amount of money on food delivery during the pandemic, which, while convenient, can be a significant expense every month. It’s a no-brainer to cook more at home, as well as bulk shop for all the ingredients that you often use. I recommend making a list of all your favorite foods, meals and the ingredients in those meals.
Then take some time to find the lowest price for each of those ingredients in the stores in your area or online. Just a little bit of upfront time and effort likely won’t pay off much with your first shop but can add up significantly over time. I have a list of the 35 meals I like to cook most often and know where I can order the ingredients for the least amount of money, which reduces my cost and helps me compound my savings over time.
The average American spends almost $650 a year on holiday gifts. That’s a lot of presents! While this is an expense category that might be a little bit more difficult to cut back on, it is definitely one area where you can optimize your spending.
When I say “optimize,” what I mean is maximizing the “happiness per dollar” for the receiver of your gift. Too many gifts that are given are wasted money, because they either aren’t a gift that the receiver wanted, or it’s not something they need.
Make your gift dollars go farther by asking your friends and family what they want if you don’t already know. Or, buy them a gift that anyone can use, like a gift card to a big online store or a restaurant you know they like. Don’t just buy them a piece of clothing or a scarf, unless you know they need one, of course.
A month equals 30 days.
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When compared to monthly cost of comparable 4-line postpaid plans of leading carriers. Excludes taxes, fees, Auto Pay discounts, and limited time pricing. Source: Competitor Websites, April 2020
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