Just because you can’t increase your income doesn’t mean you can’t buy more. Using a variety of personal finance strategies and tactics, you can decrease your purchasing costs and increase the amount and quality of items you need or discretionary items you want to fit into your budget. Increasing your purchasing power in significant ways is an attainable goal, but will require research and planning.
Use a combination of techniques to lower your costs and increase your value.
Make a Monthly Budget
Create a budget that lists your monthly needs. Divide your budget into income and expenses and designate which items are necessary, such as utilities, rent and car payments, and which are discretionary. Put your expense items into two categories: those you think you can negotiate and those you can’t.
For example, you might be able to refinance your mortgage under a new federal program, or you might not be able to touch your monthly mortgage payments because you’ve just refinanced.
Buy the Same for Less
Search online selling websites such as eBay or Craigslist before you make purchases of goods and services. Online selling sites sell both discounted new items and considerably cheaper used goods. Determine whether you need a warranty on specific items and if buying online at a significant discount is worth the risk of buying from a reseller.
Learn to coupon. Visit credible websites to learn how to find goods that offer discounts, rebates and two-for-one items. Buy your local newspaper to get access to coupons and look for online coupons. Contact your local grocery stores to learn which honor competitor coupons and double coupons.
Create a filing system that makes it easy to find and use your coupons. Avoid making purchases you ordinarily wouldn’t just because you have a coupon.
Improve your Credit
Fix your credit reports and raise your credit scores using these tips.
Shop for credit cards that offer bonuses based on your spending. Look for credit or debit cards that help you earn free airline miles, automobile discounts, cash back or reduced purchase prices on specific goods.
Use the interest rates, balance transfer promotions and annual fees as your main guidelines for selecting a new card, and the purchasing benefits as the deciding factor between similar cards. Contact current creditors and ask about better terms or rates.
Look at Healthcare Options
Ask your employer if it has a flexible spending account (FSA), health savings account (HSA) or health reimbursement account (HRA) benefit or if it will consider adding one. Put money into the account based on your estimated annual health care costs to pay for health care, in part, using savings from payroll taxes you don’t pay on your contributions. Increase your retirement savings by taking advantage of an employer 401(k) match.
Haggle with Local Merchants
Tell an auto mechanic you are checking prices and that you’ll give him your business if he can reduce his price by $50 or $100, depending on the size of the job. Tell a landscaper you will hire him if he throws in a free spring fertilization or fall seeding. Shop your energy supplier to determine if you can lower your heating and cooling bills.
Join Buying Clubs
Buy in bulk if you buy certain items regularly, especially easy-to-store canned goods. Transfer food from large containers to smaller jars and packages for easier use — the thought of keeping a very large can of tomato sauce in your refrigerator might cause you not to buy. Having several smaller glass jars in the fridge might make this bulk purchase more acceptable.
Improve your Credit
Get copies of your credit scores from AnnualCreditReport.com and correct any errors you find. Pay down balances to increase your credit score. This will help you get better terms on future credit.
Don’t Waste your Money on Junk
Avoid buying cheap goods at national big box retailers without reviews. Consumers often buy cheap goods that don’t perform well or break within a few weeks or months of a purchase, requiring a replacement purchase.
Use a reliable online review service when purchasing contractor services such as painting, carpentry, paving, electrical work, plumbing or other work that will have to be redone or cause damage if the work is not performed correctly.
Don’t be afraid to buy low-cost generic foods and goods at supermarkets, which are often the same quality or better than national brands. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist about generic medicines and personal health care items.