How I Saved $2,900 by Taking a Day Off

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If someone told you that you could save thousands of dollars in just one day, you likely would think they were a scammer with a get-rich-quick scheme.

With a few phone calls, a little research, and an organized game plan, however, you could clean up your finances and be on your way to saving some major cash. All you need is one day off from work.

Taking a ‘money holiday’

Managing your money can be difficult and time-consuming. Besides the day-to-day tasks such as tracking your budget and balancing your checkbook, there are bigger concerns you need to deal with. You might have to find a new insurance provider, cancel subscriptions, or make updates to your accounts.

However, between work, family, and other obligations, finding the time to work on those things can seem unrealistic. You end up putting off those tasks, sometimes for months.

I found myself procrastinating on things I needed to do. After work, the last thing I wanted to do was hop on the phone with customer service lines or submit paperwork. But my laziness was costing me money, so I decided to make money management a priority.

Now, I take one vacation day a year that is exclusively dedicated to financial matters. I use that day to knock out all of the tasks I’ve been putting off. By putting my “money holiday” in place, I regularly earn $1,500 or more — last year, I saved $2,940 by making time to manage my finances.

For my money holiday, I focus on these seven things.

1. Rent

Rent is by far my largest expense. Every year, I schedule my money day about 90 days before my lease is up so I can review the renewal notice and see what the new rent will be. Last year, my landlord notified me that my rent would be increasing by $250 a month.

A lot of people grumble about rent increases, but you have the power to negotiate your lease terms. My husband and I have always been good tenants; we’re quiet, we pay our rent early, and we take care of our apartment. Replacing tenants like us can be expensive, so I’ve found that landlords are usually happy to work with us.

I email the landlord and explain that I’m not happy with the increase, highlight how we’ve been such easy tenants, and propose a new price. Most recently, I talked my landlord down from $250 to a $100 monthly increase. Taking 10 to 15 minutes to send that email saved me $1,800 this year.

If your landlord won’t budge on price, see if signing a longer-term lease — such as 18 or 24 months — would result in a discount. If you have the means, you could even offer to prepay rent for several months in exchange for a price cut.

2. Cell phone plan

I’ve had the same cell phone provider since I was 15 years old (thanks, T-Mobile!). But every year, I spend about 30 minutes on the phone with their customer service to negotiate my monthly bill.

Before calling, I research what my current plan would cost with other services like AT&T or Verizon. Usually, I find that switching providers would save me about $10 a month. I take screenshots of those deals before calling my provider’s customer service.

On the phone, I explain that I’ve been a loyal customer but that cost is important to me. I mention that I looked up other providers’ deals, and offer to email them to the representative. At that point, the representative usually transfers me to a manager. I go through the same spiel again, and the manager agrees to reduce my bill to match the other providers’ offers.

It’s a tedious process, but using the phone to negotiate my bill saves me $120 a year.

3. Car insurance

While it’s a good idea to shop around for a car insurance policy, I start by reviewing my current policy and seeing if I need any changes. Now that I work from home, for example, I drive much less. By reducing the mileage on my policy, I can save about $8 a month.

I also review my coverage. If my car has depreciated significantly, I might need a smaller collision policy. And, because I’ve built up my emergency fund, I can get away with a higher deductible. By making those changes, I can save an additional $10 a month.

Once I know how much coverage I need and what deductible I’m comfortable with, I compare car insurance policies from several different companies. Just like my cell phone plan, I use my research to find a cheaper deal. Then, I call my agent and see if they can match it or reduce my price.

Altogether, I save about $20 a month on car insurance, adding up to an extra $240 in my pocket over a year.

4. Unclaimed money

You might be surprised to hear that there could be money waiting for you to claim it, but it’s true. The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators says over $3.2 billion was returned to individuals in 2015 alone.

Old savings accounts, insurance premiums, and other payments can sit unclaimed for years, but you can get government or state agencies to return it to you.

On my money holiday, I search for unclaimed cash or property using sites like Unclaimed.org and MissingMoney.com. You just enter your name and the state you live in now (or where you lived previously), and the site will tell you if there is unclaimed property waiting for you.

Last year, I found out that I had unclaimed dollars from insurance premiums I paid while I was living in another state. By searching and taking five minutes to complete and mail the claim form, I received a check for $250.

5. Bank and credit card statements

It’s a good idea to check your statements regularly, but on my money day I study every statement for the whole year, line by line. Although I do look for inaccuracies or fraudulent charges, I really focus on little subscriptions or plans I signed up for but no longer use.

Whether you signed up for a gym membership and never went or you subscribed to multiple streaming services, those small charges add up.

When I went through my statements, I found two old subscriptions for writing apps that I no longer found useful. I canceled them and saved $15 a month.

6. Unused items

The average household has about $2,500 in unused items in their home, according to iSold It.

Although my husband and I don’t have that much, we do have unnecessary clutter. We keep a box in the closet to stash unused items in, such as clothes we’re sick of, knick-knacks we no longer like, or kitchen supplies we replaced. That box usually sits there untouched — until my money holiday.

On my day off, I take pictures of each item, research their value, and list them for sale on eBay. I package each item so that when it sells, I just print a label and drop them off at the post office.

By following that process, I sold $190 worth of clothes last year.

7. Taxes

When I first started freelancing, I wasn’t sure how to handle my taxes. I was terrified of an audit, so I didn’t deduct any of my business expenses or charitable donations. Big mistake. I could have deducted hundreds from my taxable income.

After I learned my lesson, I started a new process. I have a file organizer and several labeled folders for each tax category, such as income, business expenses, donations, and other deductions. On my money day, I go through online order confirmations or monthly subscriptions to collect all of my relevant receipts.

I print each one off and file them away accordingly; I prefer having hard copies so I can access them easily while I’m doing my taxes. By devoting a chunk of time to getting organized, my taxes are easier to complete and I get the full tax deduction I’m entitled to.

Because those deductions add up, I saved an extra $160 on my taxes by just going through receipts and emails.

Saving thousands in a single day

Those are the seven things I focus on during my money holiday, but your priorities might be different.

You could update your budget, negotiate with a credit card company for a lower interest rate, or research high-yield savings accounts. Whatever tasks you’ve been meaning to do but keep putting off, tackle them head on — your bank account will thank you.

Interested in refinancing student loans?

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1 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.

Laurel Road Disclosures

  1. VARIABLE APR – APR is subject to increase after consummation. The variable interest rates are based on a Current Index, which is the 1-month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR) (currency in US dollars), as published on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The variable interest rates and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) will increase or decrease when the 1-month LIBOR index changes.

2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.

SoFi Disclosures

  1. Student Loan RefinanceFixed rates from 3.999% APR to 7.804% APR (with AutoPay). Variable rates from 2.480% APR to 7.524% APR (with AutoPay). Interest rates on variable rate loans are capped at either 8.95% or 9.95% depending on term of loan. See APR examples and terms. Lowest variable rate of 2.480% APR assumes current 1 month LIBOR rate of 2.07% plus 0.91% margin minus 0.25% ACH discount. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. If approved for a loan, the fixed or variable interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, and the term of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. For the SoFi variable rate loan, the 1-month LIBOR index will adjust monthly and the loan payment will be re-amortized and may change monthly. APRs for variable rate loans may increase after origination if the LIBOR index increases. The SoFi 0.25% AutoPay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. *To check the rates and terms you qualify for, SoFi conducts a soft credit inquiry. Unlike hard credit inquiries, soft credit inquiries (or soft credit pulls) do not impact your credit score. Soft credit inquiries allow SoFi to show you what rates and terms SoFi can offer you up front. After seeing your rates, if you choose a product and continue your application, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for SoFi to be able to issue you a loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score
  2. Terms and Conditions Apply: SOFI RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet SoFi’s underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. To qualify for the lowest rate, you must have a responsible financial history and meet other conditions. If approved, your actual rate will be within the range of rates listed above and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, years of experience, income and other factors. Rates and Terms are subject to change at anytime without notice and are subject to state restrictions. SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment or PAYE. Licensed by the Department of Business Oversight under the California Financing Law License No. 6054612. SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp., NMLS # 1121636. (www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org)

3 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.

CommonBond Disclosures

  1. Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). The following table displays the estimated monthly payment, total interest, and Annual Percentage Rates (APR) for a $10,000 loan. The Annual Percentage Rate (APR) shown for each in-school loan product reflects the accruing interest, the effect of one-time capitalization of interest at the end of a deferment period, a 2% origination fee, and the applicable Repayment Plan. All loans are eligible for a 0.25% reduction in interest rate by agreeing to automatic payment withdrawals once in repayment, which is reflected in the interest rates and APRs displayed. Variable rates may increase after consummation. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.08% effective July 25, 2018.

4 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.

Citizens Bank Disclosures

  1. Education Refinance Loan Rate DisclosureVariable rate, based on the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) published in The Wall Street Journal on the twenty-fifth day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month. As of August 1, 2018, the one-month LIBOR rate is 2.07%. Variable interest rates range from 2.72%-8.17% (2.72%-8.17% APR) and will fluctuate over the term of the borrower’s loan with changes in the LIBOR rate, and will vary based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Fixed interest rates range from 3.50%-8.69% (3.50% – 8.69% APR) based on applicable terms, level of degree earned and presence of a cosigner. Lowest rates shown require application with a cosigner, are for eligible, creditworthy applicants with a graduate level degree, require a 5-year repayment term and include our Loyalty discount and Automatic Payment discounts of 0.25 percentage points each, as outlined in the Loyalty and Automatic Payment Discount disclosures. The maximum variable rate on the Education Refinance Loan is the greater of 21.00% or Prime Rate plus 9.00%. Subject to additional terms and conditions, and rates are subject to change at any time without notice. Such changes will only apply to applications taken after the effective date of change. Please note: Due to federal regulations, Citizens Bank is required to provide every potential borrower with disclosure information before they apply for a private student loan. The borrower will be presented with an Application Disclosure and an Approval Disclosure within the application process before they accept the terms and conditions of their loan.
  2. Federal Loan vs. Private Loan Benefits: Some federal student loans include unique benefits that the borrower may not receive with a private student loan, some of which we do not offer with the Education Refinance Loan. Borrowers should carefully review their current benefits, especially if they work in public service, are in the military, are currently on or considering income based repayment options or are concerned about a steady source of future income and would want to lower their payments at some time in the future. When the borrower refinances, they waive any current and potential future benefits of their federal loans and replace those with the benefits of the Education Refinance Loan. For more information about federal student loan benefits and federal loan consolidation, visit http://studentaid.ed.gov/. We also have several resources available to help the borrower make a decision at http://www.citizensbank.com/EdRefinance, including Should I Refinance My Student Loans? and our FAQs. Should I Refinance My Student Loans? includes a comparison of federal and private student loan benefits that we encourage the borrower to review.
  3. Citizens Bank Education Refinance Loan Eligibility: Eligible applicants may not be currently enrolled, must be in repayment of their existing student loan(s) and must make the minimum number of payments after leaving school. Primary borrowers must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or resident alien with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. Resident aliens must apply with a co-signer who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The co-signer (if applicable) must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a valid U.S. Social Security Number residing in the United States. For applicants who have not attained the age of majority in their state of residence, a co-signer will be required. Citizens Bank reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at anytime. Interest rate ranges subject to change. Education Refinance Loans are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application/consumer credit agreement, verification of application information, certification of borrower’s student loan amount(s) and highest degree earned.
  4. Loyalty Discount Disclosure: The borrower will be eligible for a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their loan if the borrower or their co-signer (if applicable) has a qualifying account in existence with us at the time the borrower and their co-signer (if applicable) have submitted a completed application authorizing us to review their credit request for the loan. The following are qualifying accounts: any checking account, savings account, money market account, certificate of deposit, automobile loan, home equity loan, home equity line of credit, mortgage, credit card account, or other student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. Please note, our checking and savings account options are only available in the following states: CT, DE, MA, MI, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, RI, and VT and some products may have an associated cost. This discount will be reflected in the interest rate disclosed in the Loan Approval Disclosure that will be provided to the borrower once the loan is approved. Limit of one Loyalty Discount per loan and discount will not be applied to prior loans. The Loyalty Discount will remain in effect for the life of the loan.
  5. Automatic Payment Discount Disclosure: Borrowers will be eligible to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction on their student loans owned by Citizens Bank, N.A. during such time as payments are required to be made and our loan servicer is authorized to automatically deduct payments each month from any bank account the borrower designates. Discount is not available when payments are not due, such as during forbearance. If our loan servicer is unable to successfully withdraw the automatic deductions from the designated account three or more times within any 12-month period, the borrower will no longer be eligible for this discount.
  6. Co-signer Release: Borrowers may apply for co-signer release after making 36 consecutive on-time payments of principal and interest. For the purpose of the application for co-signer release, on-time payments are defined as payments received within 15 days of the due date. Interest only payments do not qualify. The borrower must meet certain credit and eligibility guidelines when applying for the co-signer release. Borrowers must complete an application for release and provide income verification documents as part of the review. Borrowers who use deferment or forbearance will need to make 36 consecutive on-time payments after reentering repayment to qualify for release. The borrower applying for co-signer release must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If an application for co-signer release is denied, the borrower may not reapply for co-signer release until at least one year from the date the application for co-signer release was received. Terms and conditions apply.
  7. Average savings based on 18,113 actual customers who refinanced their federal and private student loans through our Education Refinance Loan between January 1, 2017 and December 31, 2017. The calculation is derived by averaging the monthly savings of Education Refinance Loan customers whose payments decreased after refinancing, which is calculated by taking the monthly student loan payments prior to refinancing minus the monthly student loan payments after refinancing. The borrower’s savings might vary based on the interest rates, balances and remaining repayment term of the loans they are seeking to refinance. The borrower’s overall repayment amount may be higher than the loans they are refinancing even if their monthly payments are lower.
2.57% – 5.87%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Earnest
2.80% – 6.38%1Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Laurel Road
2.48% – 7.52%2Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit SoFi
2.47% – 7.99%Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Lendkey
2.57% – 6.65%3Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit CommonBond
2.72% – 8.17%4Undergrad
& Graduate
Visit Citizens
Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality and will make a positive impact in your life. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print understand what you are buying, and consult a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time. Please do your homework and let us know if you have any questions or concerns.