By March, many Americans already have fallen away from their financial resolutions made on New Year’s Eve, so it’s a great time to review your financial situation and find some ways to save money. A few simple steps can add up to hundreds or even thousands in savings, and some tricks might actually earn you a few dollars, not just save them.
Contribute to your IRA
While you can only make pre-tax contributions to a 401(k) plan until Dec. 31 of any given year, IRA contributions can be made all the way up until tax filing date, April 15. If you make an IRA contribution in March, you can save money in two ways. First, you’ll be saving for your retirement in a tax-advantaged account. Second, you’ll be reducing your tax liability, or perhaps even increasing your tax refund.
Take Advantage of Sign-Up Offers
The financial services industry is incredibly competitive, and that’s great news for you the consumer. Whether you’re looking to open a checking account, a savings account, a new credit card or any of a number of financial products, you’re likely to be offered a generous sign-up bonus to do so. For example, you might be able to get a $300 bonus for opening a checking account with a certain minimum balance, or you might earn 50,000 air miles for opening an airline-related credit card. You shouldn’t add a financial product just to get a bonus; but, if you’re already looking to add an account, do some research and you can earn some generous benefits.
File Your Taxes for Free
Most Americans dread filing their taxes; but, the sooner you can gather all your important information, the sooner you can file and be done with them. By March, you should have received all of your various tax forms, including the notoriously late K1s issued by partnerships. When you’re ready to file, don’t throw extra money away by paying for a service. As long as you have an adjusted gross income of $73,000 or less — which covers about 70% of all people filing taxes in the United States — you can use the Free File Service from the IRS to submit your taxes electronically for no fees at all.
Visit a Secondhand Store
While curtailing random shopping trips is a great way to save money, everyone needs to buy various household and lifestyle items to meet their basic needs. But, rather than spending full retail price at your local mall, March is a one of the good times of the year to visit your local secondhand store. As the tax filing deadline approaches, thrift stores often receive a bump in donations, even though they can’t be deducted until the following year. If you have a high-end neighborhood nearby, that can often be a good source of quality donations you can pick up at a low price, thereby saving some of your retail budget.
Use a Gas Pricing App
As of early February 2022, gas prices were up about a full dollar over the same period in 2021, reaching the highest nationwide average price since 2014. In this environment, it pays to take an extra few seconds to seek out the cheapest gas available in your immediate vicinity. A gas app can quickly show you where the most inexpensive gasoline is around you, so you can either head in that direction or plan your day so you end up at the cheapest station. Saving even a few dollars every time you fill up can add up to hundreds of dollars per year.
Cut Out Unneeded Subscriptions
At the end of the year, you may have taken advantage of some holiday offers to sign up for new subscriptions, such as Amazon Prime or Netflix to print subscriptions or meal-kit delivery. Now that you have tried them and the promotional period may have lapsed, March can be a great time to review what you really need and what you can honestly afford. Most Americans suffer from at least some degree of subscription bloat, so take a look at what you’re paying for and trim the fat to save some money.
Set Alerts on Your Accounts To Avoid Fees
One of the worst ways to flush money down the toilet is to pay bank fees, particularly penalty fees for overdrafts or late payments. The good news is that it’s a simple task to avoid ever paying these types of fees. All you have to do is set up alerts on your bank account that tell you when your payment dates are or whether your account balance is low. Even a single overdraft or late payment fee is money that you should never have to pay.
Have a Spring Cleaning Sale
Spring cleaning is an age-old tradition that many Americans still adhere to. As winter turns into spring and the weather begins to warm, many households declutter their homes by donating or even trashing excess items. But you can take advantage of the March weather to hold a spring-cleaning garage sale and actually raise a few dollars. This will not only free up your living space but also give you some additional funds for your savings.
Use Your Tax Refund To Pay Down Debt
If you’re due a tax refund, it’s to your advantage to file as early as possible to get your refund. But between waiting for your tax forms, actually filing your taxes and waiting for the IRS to send you your refund, you often won’t receive it before March. When you do get your tax refund, don’t look at it as a windfall that you should spend on frivolous expenditures. Rather, take that money — which is simply your own money being returned to you — and return it to your savings and investments.
Give Up a Vice
For some religions, March is the Lenten season, when believers voluntarily practice moderation and self-denial. But you don’t have to be religious to take advantage of this time of year to give up some of your vices, particularly if they are causing financial harm. Whether it’s your daily pack of smokes or your overindulgence in expensive wines, taking a breather in March can improve not only your short-term finances and but also potentially your long-term health, which could be the biggest money saver of all.
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