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How to Save on 3 Common Fixed Costs If you’re wondering if it’s possible to stretch your dollar farther and confused about the conflicting advice you’ve read about money management, you’re not alone. Millions of Americans feel that there is little they can do to change their financial status. They have no idea how to stop spending as much as they do to cover their basic expenses. Fortunately, your ability to spend less isn’t as bad as you might think. With a little creative thinking, you’ll be surprised to learn that many of your fixed costs can be reduced. Moreover, if you reduce the cost of several fixed costs, you’ll end up with extra money in your pocket at the end of each month. When you think of savings, you probably think of clipping coupons, buying something below its regular price, or limiting how much you spend on small indulgences. While all these ways of saving will make a difference, if you really want to start saving more money, you need to slash how much you’re paying for recurring costs like your Internet, electricity, and credit cards. Let’s take a quick look at some effective ways to reduce your overall spending. 1. Save money on your internet. Do you remember the days of dial-up when you were forced to use a 56K modem? You may even still recall the strange cricket-like sound when you finally made a successful connection. Perhaps, too, you still cringe when you recall how your screen would fill up with a web pages one piece at a time. Fast-forward to today, when you start getting antsy if it takes longer than five seconds for a webpage to load up completely. So, yes, when it comes to reducing your internet bills, it’s not a good idea to sacrifice speed. However, if you research local high speed internet providers you might be surprised to find that you get the same fast connection you’re enjoying right now while still paying less for it. 2. Save money on your electricity. Is it possible to pay less to comfortably power, cool, and heat your home without sacrificing your quality of life? Surprisingly, the answer is yes. Here are some ways to do it: Research to see if you live in an area where there is energy deregulation. You might be able to shop around for a lower-cost energy provider. Get familiar with your thermostat so that you can change it a few degrees during summer and winter. If you have a programmable thermostat, it may cost you more than not using one. The fault, however, isn’t in the thermostat, but with how closely you’ve followed the instructions on how to optimally use it. Adding or dropping one or two degrees can result in savings over time. Use your dishwasher and dryer in a more strategic way. First, only wash and dry when you have a full-load as this is the most cost-efficient way of doing your laundry. Second, wash and dry during off-peak hours when your utility company has lowered its rate. If you haven’t done so already, begin using energy-efficient light bulbs. Instead of standard incandescent light bulbs use ENERGY STAR certified fluorescence. Save money on your credit cards. Many budget-based programs talk about taking a big pair of scissors and cutting your credit cards in half. While this might work if you’re a hopeless spendthrift, such an extreme is not necessary if you’re a fairly conscientious consumer. You can save on your credit card rates by finding a lower interest credit card or a card with rewards, by transferring your balances to a card that charges lower interest, and by calling the credit card company and asking for a discounted rate if you’ve been a long standing customer. What to Do With Your Extra Money So, what can you do with the money you’ve saved? Financial expert Ramit Sethi advises against putting the money in a savings account since the interest rate is so low that the value of the money will be eroded by inflation. He suggests  a simple, yet effective investment idea, “A great starting investment is a low-cost target-date retirement fund, which automatically diversifies and rebalances your investments based on your age — for very low fees.”
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