Resolving to save Foolishly is good. Resolving to spend Foolishly is better.
We all spend. We buy groceries, services, and birthday gifts. We pay mortgages and utility bills. We go on dates and take vacations. We invest. (Right?) Like a hyped-up 2-year-old, money never sits still. All we can do is make sure it heads in the right direction. And if you're like me, that's a challenge most of the time.
This year, I'm resolving to improve. How about joining me? Here are four ideas for getting the most from your moola in the new year.
1. Consolidate services. Have you noticed how telecommunications companies always pitch bundles? There's a good reason for this. Internet and pay TV fees compensate for money losers like wireline telephone and cable access.
Every major telecom company has a bundle. More than 230,000 signed up for AT&T's
Can you really save doing this? Sure. Here at the Beyers household, we're trying a bundle through Comcast, whose Xfinity service includes an iPad app to help customers get TV anywhere. As subscribers to Xfinity, I estimate we'll save anywhere from $30-$50 per month we'd otherwise spend on separate providers.
2. Dump load funds. More than 80 million of us invest in mutual funds. Too many pay for the privilege through something called a load. Essentially, it's a sales fee collected when the account is opened or closed.
Either way, the majority of the time it benefits fund managers such as Eaton Vance
3. Refinance the house. Interest rates continue to be near historic lows. Why not try refinancing? Yes, there are costs and paperwork involved, but consider the savings. Refinancing a $200,000, 15-year mortgage charging 5.5% to 4% could save you more than $170 a month and $30,000 in interest payments over the life of the loan, according to Bankrate.com's savings calculator.
Sound too pie in the sky? Don't bet on it. We're getting a similar deal from our lender, JPMorgan Chase
Deals are more readily available today because banks have access to cheap money for lending. JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo
4. Renegotiate everything. Everything's negotiable until it isn't -- from your insurance premiums, to your mobile contract, to your cable service. Threaten to quit, and most service providers will find a way to keep you. Some may even throw in some perks.
Just ask DISH Network. In its effort to keep us from running into the arms of Comcast, the satellite provider offered us free pay-per-view movie coupons, and a new HD receiver. Churn costs DISH as much as any provider, and we've been subscribers long enough that it makes sense to offer us a deal to stick around. If we weren't so dissatisfied with DISH service, we'd jump at the offer.
So those are my four ideas. But they also can't be the only ones worth considering. Got a financial resolution to share? Use the comments box below to let us know how you'll get the most from your moola in 2011, and stay tuned to Fool.com throughout the next few weeks for more ideas for how to kick financial butt in the new year.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo and is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy plugs the five-hole like no goalie you've ever seen.
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