ALMOST INSTANT SAVINGS
Saving money often requires a lot of time and effort. In some cases, though, 10 minutes or less is all it takes to save $100 or more. Get a head start on New Year's financial resolutions by following any or all of these quick and easy money-saving tactics.
CANCEL OR COMBINE TELECOM SERVICES
A quick change to your current telecom service package is an easy way to maximize the savings-to-time ratio. Call the cable or Internet provider to request a lower rate. Threatening to switch to a competitor may help your case, but simply asking may lead to a discount. One Cheapism reporter saved $80 a month on TV and Internet and received a $200 gift card by cancelling and then reinstating DirecTV and switching Internet service providers.
LOOK FOR BANK BONUSES
Anyone considering opening a new checking or savings account can be rewarded by doing a little preparatory research. Many banks and credit unions offer cash bonuses to new customers that may be worth several hundred dollars. Read the fine print first, though, as there often are restrictions or requirements pertaining to the bonus. Note that these windfalls generally are taxed -- although it is still free money.
PASS ON UNNECESSARY PURCHASES
Many purchases seem like a good idea at the time but often sit unused after the first few weeks or months. To keep $100 or more in your pocket, consider passing on expensive temptations such as high-end exercise clothing, some extended warranties, and kitchen appliances with a single function, such as a bread maker.
PRICE-MATCH HOME IMPROVEMENT PURCHASES
Home Depot and Lowe's offer price matching with a bonus discount of 10 percent. The value can easily exceed $100 when buying home appliances or supplies to renovate a room. Read the rules first, as there are many exclusions, such as no price matching on store-brand products.
Look into refinancing an auto loan, personal loan, or student loan and potentially save money with a lower interest rate. Going through the process takes more than 10 minutes, but lenders can give estimated terms on the new loan within a few minutes. The estimates often require only a soft inquiry into your credit standing, which doesn't affect credit scores.
APPLY FOR A BALANCE TRANSFER CREDIT CARD
Taking a few minutes to apply for a balance transfer credit card may be a good way to cut interest rate payments. Some cards offer zero interest on transferred balances for up to 18 months, which lets cardholders pay down debt over time without incurring interest fees. Compare cards carefully, and pay particular attention to the balance transfer fee, which may range from zero to several percent of the amount transferred.
LOOK FOR FREE ITEMS FIRST
Checking secondhand stores can yield significant savings, but there's no better deal than free. Instead of spending hundreds on a new piece of furniture, browse the free section of Craigslist and sites such as Freecycle.org. Sometimes the finds may need a little work, but generous members also offer up like-new items on occasion.
BUNDLE HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
Homeowners insurance may be a requirement for folks with a mortgage and a worthwhile investment for renters. Buying several types of insurance policies from the same provider often results in a bundling discount that can mean significant savings -- up to $500 a year for bundling auto and homeowners policies, according to a 2014 study commissioned by InsuranceQuotes.
PASS ON RENTAL CAR CDW COVERAGE
Drivers usually are offered three or four different insurance options when renting a car, including a loss damage or collision damage waiver that covers damage to the rental vehicle. Instead of paying for a CDW, which sometimes costs $10 or more a day, pay with a credit card that includes CDW coverage and decline the rental company's plan. Many major credit cards come with this free perk, but check for fine-print exclusions.