10 Easy Ways You Can Save Money This Spring
Spring is a time for renewal in nature and the world outside is turning green. We think it’s a good time to start fresh with another kind of green - your money. Here are 10 simple ideas to give your personal finances a boost in 2017.
- Put your tax refund to work.
It can be a rush to get your tax refund…it’s like found money. You might think, "I’m flush now, what should I treat myself to?" But instead of buying stuff, you can use that money to SAVE even more:
- Pay down credit cards and other high-interest debt. If a credit card charges 15% (the U.S. average), paying it off can save you hundreds - or thousands - of dollars in a very short time.
- Open an Individual Retirement Account, or contribute to an IRA you already have. Not only will that money grow tax-free until you retire, it can also reduce your Federal taxable income.
- Contribute to a New York 529 College Savings account for your kids or grandchildren. Not only will it help them afford college, it can reduce your N.Y. State taxable income by up to $10,000.
- Open your closets…and your heart.
Dig deep into your storage spaces. Pack up any clothes, linens and household goods you haven’t used in the last few years. And give it all to Goodwill, the Salvation Army or a local shelter. You’ll feel gratified by your good deed…happy to free up space…and maybe surprised by how much you’ll save on taxes! Both Goodwill and the Salvation Army have valuation guides. List the items you’re donating, with values noted, and make 2 copies of the list: one for the recipient, the other as a receipt for your tax records.
- Dress for success…for next winter.
After donating your old clothes, you’ll have room in your closet to take advantage of spring clearance sales on winter clothes. Jackets, hats, gloves, boots, sports equipment…if you need to get them next winter anyway, you could save a bundle by buying them now.
- Join a free health club—the great outdoors.
Instead of paying that gym membership fee—especially if you aren’t going as much as you should—take your game outside. Jogging, biking, even plain old walking—all are great for your health. And take advantage of the public sports facilities in your neighborhood—like basketball, tennis or handball.
- Keep walking…on your vacation.
Planning to visit a city on your vacation? Take a self-guided walking tour instead of paying big bucks for an overcrowded tourist bus. Look for apps or audio guides you can follow on your phone. Good for your pocketbook—and your health.
- Ride the winds of (seasonal) change.
Open your windows to enjoy the fresh spring air, and install a ceiling fan in every bedroom. Better air flow can put off the need for air conditioning. Electricity is most expensive in summer, so the longer you can wait to use your AC, the more money you’ll save. Looking ahead to next winter, consider installing a programmable thermostat for your heating system. You can set it up to change temperatures automatically: warmer when you’re home; cooler—to save money—when you’re away.
- Opt in to budget billing.
Speaking of controlling the temperature, do you get slapped with huge electric bills in the summer and heating bills in the winter? Ask your utilities about budget billing. They can bill you the same amount every month, based on your average energy usage, which will let you plan your expenses better and eliminate big, nasty surprises on your utility bills.
- Fix it up.
You can also save money on utility bills by doing home maintenance during the mild spring weather. Repair leaks, install low-flow shower heads, fix screens and add insulation and weather stripping. All these things help make your water, heating and cooling systems more efficient. If you’ve suffered water damage from ice dams, consider installing gutter heaters. And If you’re plagued by mice or other critters, search out the holes where they could be getting in, and block them up.
- Clean it up.
As long as you’re doing home repairs, why not save some more money by making your own household cleaning products? Sound complicated? Not at all. You can whip up effective cleansers with simple ingredients, like baking soda, lemon juice, vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. There are tons of YouTube videos to show you how.
- Go offline for free entertainment.
Instead of buying books & music online, take a walk to your local public library. Not only will you be able check out everything for free—to read and watch at your leisure—you’ll get good exercise and fresh air at the same time.
Explore more of our Money Management 101 page to find tips for dealing with debt smartly, or speak to one of our representatives to learn more about the personal banking services we offer that can help set you on a path toward greater financial independence.