Sure, you can always hustle a bit harder.
But if you feel like you’re already stretched thin, there are some less traditional money moves that can help you earn and save around the edges of your budget.
From getting out of bank fees and addressing credit issues to reducing healthcare costs and using arbitration to push back against unfair practices, there’s a lot the average consumer can do to keep more dollars in their bank account.
Let’s dive into a few of those less-than-well-advertised methods for keeping your pockets flush.
Increase your credit score
Good credit opens a lot of doors.
Whether it’s skipping security deposits on utilities or lower interest rates on loans and car insurance, a solid credit score can literally put more money in your wallet.
With more negotiation power, you can snag higher limits on credit cards. You can also get better approval rates for things like home loans and more favorable insurance rates.
Get in touch with the relevant credit agencies to dispute inaccuracies in your credit report as one way to boost your score. Talk to lenders about how they’re reporting various lines of credit to see how you can improve that credit score.
It can make a big difference when it comes to your access to cash.
Use arbitration to fight against unfair fees
Sometimes it feels like the big companies are out to get you.
The good news is that you’re not powerless. It’s easy to sue big companies like AT&T these days, with the right support.
If you spot unfair fees, you can use those offenses to get compensated through the arbitration process. Some intermediary companies will even step through the process with you for a small fee.
Go chase down those dollars if you feel that you’re owed!
Negotiate work benefits
Remember that employment negotiations are bigger than just your salary.
You should also negotiate benefits like medical coverage and vacation leave. Make sure that you regularly revisit your benefits package with your boss.
If you’re able to work remotely (even partially), that helps you save on transportation expenses. Take time to sit down and analyze all of your work-related expenses and see if there are ways to get your employer to chip in a bit more to help you save.
It’ll make going to work every day that much sweeter.
How to pay less for healthcare
Healthcare is often the biggest chunk of your benefits package.
If you’ve got a high-deductible plan, consider moving over to a Health Savings Account for a triple tax advantage. Contributions are tax-deductible, the interest earned is tax-free, and any withdrawals for qualified medical expenses are also not taxable.
HSAs are great way to pay for existing health expenses while also saving for future health matters. And don’t forget that hospital bills are very much negotiable. Don’t be shy about haggling!
Become a peer-to-peer lender
Mutual aid societies and peer-to-peer lending is all the rage right now.
People are seeking less traditional ways of supporting each other when faced with changes in employment status and income. Peer-to-peer lending can happen informally through groups of friends and neighbors (or even Reddit), or more formally through services like Lending Club.
While peer-to-peer lending is still evolving as a practice, many users are finding success with it and its use is growing.
Avoid common bank fees
Those fees can really pile up.
Banks and lenders have to make their money somehow, right? At the same time, those fees have to be fair and transparent.
One way around this is to use a bank that reimburses ATM fees, as a start. There’s just no need to be charged for taking out your own money.
Also, remember to check account features like overdraft protection that often come with added fees. The gist here is that you should double and triple-check all associated fees and dispute where necessary to save those dollars.
Trick yourself into saving money
You can train your mind to help you conserve cash.
Whether you’re using a finance app that saves your spare change or setting up automatic deposits for your savings account, there’s a lot you can do to automate frugal habits.
Another trick involves signing up for subscription trials using a prepaid credit card so that you’re not automatically enrolled into longer-term subscriptions that you might not use. That’s another way to ensure that little slip-ups don’t cost you over the long run.
How consumers can stand up for themselves and save
While diving into arbitration and disputing bank fees may seem like a lot of work, remember that a little bit of focused time and effort can save you a significant amount of money.
By auditing all of your current expenses and figuring out ways to cut corners and increase the cash you save, you can ensure that you’re getting a fair shake in challenging economic times.