4 Easy Ways to Save $1,200 in 2023

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  • Debt consolidation can save you thousands of dollars in interest.
  • Simple around-the-house projects are also money-savers.
  • Banking fees should be a thing of the past.

There are dozens of ways to save money.

Here's the deal: Most of us face similar financial issues. We're all dealing with rising interest rates and gasping at the impact of inflation at the grocery store. As someone who experienced this when Jimmy Carter was president, I can't say that I'm panicked (mostly because I know it won't last), but I'm still feeling the pinch.

I know that saving $1,200 in 2023 sounds like small potatoes, but it's a starting point. I believe that once you see how easy it is to save $100 a month, you'll find other creative ways to save more.

I'd like to say that saving is fun, but that's not quite the right word for it. Maybe a better word is "satisfying." There's something satisfying about defying the current economic conditions by putting money away rather than allow it slowly seep from your bank account.

1. Consolidate debt

Debt consolidation can be the smartest financial move you make or the biggest mistake -- it's up to you.

Here's how it works:

  • You gather up your high-interest bills. This includes credit cards, personal loans, payday loans, or any debt you have hanging around your neck like 40 of Mr. T's gold chains.
  • Make a list of each debt, including the balance.
  • Shop around for the best debt consolidation loan. Loans will advertise their interest rate. You don't care about that. What you want to know is the annual percentage rate (APR). That's the real cost of the loan, including interest and fees. The APR should be lower than the rate you're paying on your existing debt.
  • Once you find a loan that looks good, apply. It's important to remember that the higher your credit score, the lower the APR you'll end up paying.
  • Choose the shortest repayment term you can afford. The shorter the term, the less you'll pay in interest. Plus, it's nice to know that you'll have your debt paid in full in a certain number of months.
  • Some lenders will send loan proceeds directly to your current creditors. If your lender does not, wait until the funds hit your bank account and pay off the existing debt.

Now, here's the most important part: Do not take on any new debt. Seriously. Focus solely on paying off the consolidation loan.

Let's say you have $15,000 in credit card debt at 18%. If you pay $450 each month, it will take you just shy of four years to pay off and you'll pay nearly $6,000 in interest.

If you consolidate that debt at 10% for four years, your monthly payment will drop by $77 and you'll pay a little over $2,900 in total interest.

Monthly savings: $77

Annual savings: $924

2. Seal it up

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that homeowners can save 15% on heating and cooling costs by doing two things:

  1. Sealing air leaks around their homes, and
  2. Adding insulation in attics and floors over basements and crawl spaces

If your current heating and cooling costs run around $150 per month, that's a savings of $22.

Monthly savings: $22

Annual savings: $264

3. Change banks

If your current bank charges fees, it's not only failing to keep up with the times but it's asking you to spend money unnecessarily. Let's say you're still paying a $15 per month service fee. Switching to a new bank or credit union without those fees gives you money you get to keep.

Monthly savings: $15

Annual savings: $180

4. Unburden yourself

My big plans this weekend involve going through a back room of our basement and jettisoning everything I don't absolutely need. Having just moved, I truly believed I had already pared down, but sadly, there's more to go.

The Swedish (some of the happiest people on the planet, according to the 2022 World Happiness Report) routinely practice döstädning. It translates to "death cleaning." As dark as that may sound, it's actually a liberating act.

It's about going through closets, drawers, garages, basements, and storage units to let go of anything you don't need or use. It's not some modern "suggested by a best-selling author" notion, but rather, something that Swedes have been doing forever.

Many older Swedes practice döstädning so there won't be a bunch of junk left behind for their kids to go through when they die, but younger Swedes are embracing it, too. They say it makes them feel calmer and more organized.

How might radical organizing help you? Once you've tossed anything that's broken or no longer works, you'll end up with a pile of items that someone else would love to own. Sell that stuff. Make enough extra money to pad your savings account or pay down existing debt faster.

If you were only to adopt the first three tips above, you would already have an extra $1,368 in 2023. The truth is, though, there are dozens of ways you can save money without altering your lifestyle. It's a matter of figuring out which ones work for you.

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