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It’s May and ready or not, the first day of summer is quickly approaching.

You may already be thinking of summer clothes, cute sandals and adventurous vacations but before you spend a penny, could your money use a little Spring Cleaning?

After all, with summer comes…Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, graduations, vacations, Father’s Day and the Fourth of July!

In other words…Cha-Ching! 

You probably need a plan…a plan to save money  for a stress-free summer, well, at least financially.

To help, here is a Financial Spring Cleaning Plan to save money over the next 51 days which is the number of days from May 1st until the first day of summer!

 

Your 5 Smart Strategies to Save Money this Spring

 

If you do these 5 things, you will save more of the money you already have. That is the best raise you could ever give yourself so let’s jump in.
1. Don’t Buy Anything You Don’t Need

Your first commitment has to be to stop spending and not to create any new debt. Over the next 51 days, commit only to spending on your absolute necessities.

Necessities are things like housing, utilities, bills, groceries, gas, transportation, personal products and any existing debt currently being paid off.

Necessities are not eating out, coffee and tea breaks or shopping of any kind–regardless of the great sale.

If you continue to spend while getting things in order, you will defeat yourself and any efforts of getting ahead.

Take Action:
It might be necessary to unsubscribe from retail email lists (at least temporarily) and it might be necessary to limit access to social media. Social media can be distracting with all the pop-up ads and the images of others “having so much fun”.

Recently, in order to boost my productivity, I removed two of my favorite social media apps from my phone. Why? Because I was wasting time…the change actually worked.

It may also be time to destroy access to your credit cards or if you’re not ready for that big step, give them to a trusted friend who can help hold you accountable.

Don’t be afraid to take drastic measures in order to reach your goals. It pays off in the end!

2. Avoid Fees – They Drain Your Income

Remember, you are learning to keep more of the money you already have. If not careful, fees can slowly chip away your income.

Fees are assessed whenever a bank or creditor penalizes their customers for not meeting the requirements of an account or contract. This is common with banking/savings accounts, credit cards, other loans, utilities and cell phones.

Here are examples of common and avoidable fees:

  • Late payment fee
  • Over the limit fee
  • Overdraft fee
  • Non-sufficient fee (NSF)
  • Low balance fee
  • ATM fee
  • Maximum transaction fee
  • Data overage fee
  • Disconnection fee
  • Reconnect fee
  • Early termination fee

 

Avoid Fees. Save Money. CommonCentsToday.com

In a January 2017 report, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimated that consumer overdraft and NSF fee revenues alone were $17 billion annually!

What’s the difference between overdraft versus non-sufficient fees?

  • An overdraft happens when a consumer does not have enough funds in their account to cover a payment or withdrawal and the banking institution pays the transaction. When the bank or credit union pays the transaction, the transaction is an overdraft and the account balance becomes negative (or “overdrawn”).
  •  Alternatively, “non sufficient funds” or NSF fees are charged a bank or credit union returns a check or ACH transaction unpaid. Most institutions would then charge an NSF fee which are typically the same amount as an overdraft fee. Institutions generally do not charge NSF fees when declining to authorize a debit card-based transaction.

Overdraft fees can be as high as $35 for each transaction! And because an overdraft can cause a domino effect, most people pay average fees between $69-$90 when an overdraft happens!

Take action:
Closely monitor your account(s) to avoid any fees.

When possible, set up text or email alerts to notify you when your account hits a certain balance. For instance, if your account goes below $25 or $50, set up an alert so that you can take action. Now, this is not how to balance your account, it’s just another control to help you stay out of the red.

Add “due dates” to a calendar or the calendar on your cell phone. Schedule payments to be sent directly from your checking account to your creditors in advance of the due date.

If for some reason you still encounter a fee, call your creditor to explain that a mistake happened and ask if they will refund the fee. Most banks will grant an exception at least once. You won’t know until you try.

3. Pack Lunch for the Next 51 Days

Eating out while trying to save money is like a grenade to a budget.

In a recent Morgan Stanley survey, Americans indicated they set aside 20% of their discretionary income on dining out. This data coincides with the fact that menu prices at U.S. restaurants are up 2.7% in the last year (compare that to the 0.5% decrease in grocery prices.)

Friends tell me they can easily spend $10-$15/day for lunch alone. That can add up to $75/week!

For the next 6 weeks, if you saved $75/week, you would have saved $450!

Take action:
Develop a simple lunch menu at home so that you can easily create lunch options to take to work.

Here is my 5-day quick-lunch-plan-attack:

2 Sandwiches
2 Salads
1 Pasta

Don’t overthink your lunch meal plan. What do you normally buy for lunch? Make a list of the 3 meals you normally buy for lunch and now make them at home. You will so much money! Just keep it simple.

4. Shop at Home First

As soon as the seasons change, the lure to buy the latest trends can be overwhelming! STOP and refer to strategy 1–no shopping. Instead pull out all of last year’s clothes, hats, purses, shoes, flip flops, bathing suits, everything!

Take Action:

First, make clear decisions about what you really need and what fits really well. Everything else has to go. Learn to create space for what you truly need. Creating space is one of the best ways to clear about what is important and what is just extra.

I prefer to have a few well-fitted clothes in lieu of a lot of pieces that look average or less than ideal.

5. Sell Some Stuff from Your Closet
This really can be a game changer for some people. If you look around your house (or the houses of people who trust you!) and see piles and piles of unused or unneeded STUFF, then it might be time to hold a SALE instead of going to one.

Selling almost anything online now is easier than ever. Even used stuff. Selling secondhand clothes online in 2015 was a $16 billion dollar industry (according to PrivCo), which grows about 6% each year. With great sites and apps like PoshMark, Tradesy and thredUp, there is something that is the right fit for you.

Seller payouts can range from 35% to 70% of what your items sell for!

That’s a really good return on clothes that you can afford to get rid of.

Take action:

Do you have trendy, in-season clothes that you could sell? Do the kid’s clothes no longer fit but are in good condition? While shopping, do you always find 100 great items for other people? If so, you seriously should give reselling clothes a try.

 

Pull It All Together

For the next 51 days, take this action plan and make your savings grow!

  1. As soon as you have money that you didn’t spend on stuff, quickly move it into your savings account.
  2. The money you would normally spend eating out or buying lunch, quickly move it into your savings account.
  3. Money that you save on banking fees, quickly move it into your savings account.
  4. As soon as you make money selling clothes (or anything else), quickly move it into your account.

Money left lingering is usually wasted. Don’t co-mingle money for bills and savings. Learn to separate them so that it doesn’t easily drift from your account.

As soon as summer hits, you will be ready for fun and none of the stress! If you’re ready to get started, leave a comment below. Thanks!

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