In this episode of Motley Fool Answers, Alison Southwick and Robert Brokamp are joined by recurring Foolish guest Nathan Hamilton to talk about financial fixes that don't involve the most common suggestion: Reduce your spending.
In this segment, he offers his last tip out of five: Explore the options around credit card sign-up bonuses. Quite a few cards will give you decent prizes for spending a large amount on them in the first few months you hold them. Plus, Brokamp offers a few bonus tips.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Aug. 29, 2017.
Alison Southwick: And our last piece of advice is kind of advice for anyone.
Nathan Hamilton: For anyone...
Southwick: All right, what is it?
Hamilton: ...who wants to make their money work harder for them.
Southwick: Ooh, that sounds fantastic. Let's hear it.
Hamilton: So, we're looking at sign-up bonuses, and this is something that's in the near term. It's not an ongoing thing that you can do all the time. But credit card companies are willingly offering sign-up bonuses. So, for people looking at maybe needing some extra money to pay the rent, or pay their grocery bills, or anything like that, there are opportunities where you can stick to your budget and, say, spend $1,000 within a three-month period and get a $200 sign-up bonus with a credit card.
If that matches with your budget -- if you'd normally spend that similar amount -- you don't have to overstretch your finances to get that bonus. If you're not getting incentivized to spend more, it's worthwhile. It's definitely something worth taking advantage of. And as we mentioned before, there are credit score implications to consider as well.
But really, that's money that's available there for you. It's not a game changer. It's not going to take you from being broke to being rich, but it is something incrementally that can improve your finances over time.
Southwick: There you go. Five ways that you can fix up your finances without changing your spending. And wait -- there's more!
Robert Brokamp: There's more?
Southwick: There is more. We actually have a couple of Bro bonus tips or, as Nathan coined before the show ...
Hamilton: Bronus tips.
Hamilton: Do you have some music to cue up with that? That would be great.
Southwick: Rick's thinking about it.
Brokamp: So, we were talking about this and it occurred to me that over the weekend I did something that everyone should do on a regular basis, and that is look at your recurring expenses and see what you are paying for that you never use anymore. And just stop doing that, whether it's a subscription, a membership, or things like that. And for the people who are paying money and you want to keep the service, can you get that lower rate?
I did the classic "call your cable company." I got the bill lowered and I saw that they added an expense a couple of weeks ago. It was one of those things like, "We're going to give this to you for free for a year," [they told us this a year ago] and then it just automatically goes up and you don't really think about it.
I was talking to another Fool today. He said his wife does this every year and they just got their cable bill lowered by 25%.
Southwick: Oh, wow!
Hamilton: Feels good, huh?
Brokamp: Yes, it feels great. So, you should always review your credit card statements and your bank statements for things that you're paying for on a regular basis and evaluate whether you should be continuing to do that and whether there's some room to get that lowered.
And then the other Bronus tip is what are you going to do with all this money you are now saving by following this advice? Well, if you contribute to your traditional retirement account, you will get a tax break. That's immediate savings. Let's say you're in the 25% tax bracket and you contribute $1,000, you've just lowered your tax bill by $250.
But what if you put that $250 in that retirement account? Well, then you've lowered your tax bill by another $62. And if you put that $62 in a retirement account, you lower your tax bill by $15. You keep doing that and you're looking at savings of about $330; not to mention how much that money would be worth 10 or 20 years down the road. So, ultimately that's why you want to save the money -- to save for your future.
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