When you need a little extra money, chances are you can find some if you know where to look. Even a small change in habits can leave more money in your wallet.
• If you have a collection or a hobby, sell off your duplicates, such as stamps, postcards or coins. (Don’t be tempted to buy new pieces.)
• Check banks and credit unions to see if you can find a better interest rate than you have now.
• Go generic at the grocery store for one month.
• If you’re gone all day, consider whether the expense of a programmable thermostat will save on your fuel bills this winter. (Start looking now for the clear plastic window coverings, before they’re gone.)
• Pay attention to the credit-card ads that come in the mail. If you find one that says, for example, zero interest for 18 months if you do a balance transfer, that’s worth paying attention to. Even if you only transfer one high-interest card, you’ll save money. Beware the interest rate that takes effect on your new card after that period expires.
• Make a list of your bartering talents. You might know more than you think you do (sewing, bicycle repair, oil change) and those skills have value to someone else. Check the barter section of Craigslist.org for ideas. Also scroll through the “Wanted” list to see what you might have that someone else will buy. Your old albums and 45s, musical instruments, books and vintage computer games might fetch a few dollars and free up space.
• Cancel your gym membership. Seriously, if you haven’t used it more than twice since January, are you likely to start back?
• Are you reading all those magazines that arrive each month? If not, cancel them and get your money back on the balance of the subscription.
• Put your loose change in a jar every day. Don’t take any out until the jar is full.
• Do an hourly comparison: Before you make an unnecessary purchase, calculate how many hours you’d have to work to pay for it.
• Before you fill up the tank, check gasbuddy.com to compare prices in your area.
• Best bet: Before making any purchase, consider whether you’d feel better with the item in hand — or with the money still in your wallet.
David Uffington regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org