Shop around to save money
Comparing prices can help you save money and jump-start your savings.
Even with the best budgeting skills, you may spend unnecessary money if you aren't smart about where you buy your goods and services. By taking time to compare the prices and details of purchases, you can divert saved dollars into helping fund your financial goals. Here are four purchases we see as worthy of comparison-shopping:
- Cell phone carriers: There is an abundance of carriers and plans. Find the best price by reviewing your usage and choosing a plan that fits your needs. For example, people with low usage might consider prepaid plans. Be sure to look into available carriers before settling on one.
- Check into multiple banks: When choosing a bank, consider the extra services offered and any hidden fees. Some banks charge maintenance or ATM fees that can quickly add up. Look for a bank that offers those services for free along with other perks, such as online banking, and competitive interest rates.
- Avoid overpaying for prescription drugs: By 2020, annual spending on prescription drugs in the U.S. is projected to top $512 billion, according to the government's Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Keep your costs down by being smart about what you pay. Shop around to find the lowest price, and if you have a regular pharmacy, see whether it matches the cost. Also ask about generic options—often they are just as effective but cost much less.
- Research your loan: Interest rates on loans can be costly. Compare all of your options to find a loan with the right terms for you. You should look at lenders too and choose one with a good reputation.
Although shopping around may sound like a lot of work, you can make it easier by comparing prices online rather than in the store. Once you've found the best deal, you can apply the money you've saved to retirement. Even a small amount can potentially make a big difference years down the road, thanks to compounding earnings. And always keep an eye out for additional ways to save.
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Do you know where your money goes? Track your spending with the help of our budgeting calculator.