We’re already in October. Can you believe it?
Even though we don’t get a real Fall in Florida, this is still my favorite time of the year. Pumpkin spice lattes, fall colors, and believe it or not, plenty of ways to save money.
In this blog post, I’m going to be laying out 5 money saving tips you can use as we round out the last few months of 2016. I’m going to be using many of the tips myself and one of them may actually surprise you because you possibly didn’t even know it was an option (I certainly didn’t.)
Look into more affordable healthcare options.
It’s almost every American’s favorite time of year after tax season – open enrollment! (Yes, that was definitely meant to be sarcastic).
Out of all the ways to save money at the end of the year, finding more affordable health care options is at the top of my list.
As a self-employed individual, healthcare costs are on me. The bad news is healthcare can be expensive when you’re shopping for your own insurance. The good news is you have more options to save money than you possibly think you do.
I was already planning on dropping my current Silver level health insurance plan I got through the ACA exchange because I thought it was too expensive and I hated my doctor options. My deductible literally doubled from one year to the next and I was paying $247 for shit service.
Fortunately, my health insurance company made my job easy because I just received a letter that they would be discontinuing my plan in 2017. This is the second time this happens to me in the three years that I’ve been purchasing insurance from the health care exchange. At this point, all I can do is laugh.
I started digging around for more affordable healthcare options a few months ago in preparation for this time and realized that many of my money savvy friends were part of health-sharing ministries like Liberty HealthShare.
The concept is simple:
Every member of the HealthSharing ministry gives into the pot. When one of the members has medical expenses, the organization pays for it from the pot. All you have to do is show your membership card to the doctor, get your bill and send it to your health sharing group.
I have many friends from college who’ve used this method of health care with great success. Many of my colleagues have also opted for this over ACA health insurance plans. It counts as insurance under ACA so you aren’t penalized and it saves you a ton of money.
I started researching Liberty HealthShare for myself as a way to save money and here’s what I found:
I can get 100% expenses paid up to $1,000,000 and go to any doctor I want for $50 to $100 less each month than what I’m currently paying for my craptastic health insurance that limits my healthcare choices.
Of course, this isn’t without it’s downsides and there are plenty of other options out there. I’ll do a more in-depth post about it once I have more information and have chosen one for myself.
Another one of the ways to save money at the end of the year is to do a little tax planning. I asked my accountant, Eric Nisall of Accountlancer for some tips for your all and here’s what he said:
1. Round up last year’s return to get an idea of what documents to expect in the coming months.
2.Make an appointment with your accountant and do a year-end review so they can make estimates and help you avoid penalties.
3.Ask your accountant if there are any moves you can make before the end of the year to lower your tax bill.
Review your budget for the year.
While you should be reviewing your budget far more often than once a year, the end of the year is a good time to look at it to see if there are anyway ways to save money that you aren’t taking advantage of.
Maybe you realize you’re paying too much for certain good or services and decide to find ways to shop around for new providers. Maybe you realize you have items in your budget that no longer make sense for you.
For example, I’m forgoing my membership to my local health center because I realized I wasn’t really using it. This will now save me $89 that I can automatically transfer into savings each month. I also fond ways to save money on groceries.
When reviewing your budget for the year, it’s helpful to have some sort of software that gives you a good snapshot of your financial picture. I’ve been using Personal Capital for the last few months and I’m really digging it. It’s totally free and very easy to use.
Sock away money into your retirement account.
If you’re still regularly employed (I know I still have a few readers that are), now is a good time to sock as much money into your 401(k) account as you can. Your contributions to your 401(k) account can lower your tax bill because the contributions reduce your taxable income.
If you’re working with a Roth IRA like I am, you won’t get a tax benefit now but you can at least do your best to meet the maximum $5500 annual contribution limit. I’ve personally vowed that anything I make in passive income from my blog (affiliate sales, book sales, ad revenue, etc.) is going into my Betterment account.
(P.S. If you’re a blogger and you’d like a good resource on how to make affiliate sales with your blog, I highly recommend checking out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner. I went from making a few dollars a month to now making hundreds of dollars each month from affiliate sales. My retirement account is very pleased. You can click here to learn more about the course.)
Save the surplus.
The end of the year is a good time for some surplus cash. Here are some of the ways to save money when you have a surplus:
1. See which contracts (like gym memberships) are up for cancellation. If you don’t use it, cancel and transfer the surplus into savings.
2. Put a bonus from your job directly into savings.
3. Put any cash gifts directly into savings.