Give your budget a tune-up

Calculator and money
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The start of a new year is a perfect time to take a look at your budget and see if there are any areas where you can cut down your spending.

For example, if you subscribe to multiple streaming services, canceling a few of them for a month or two could give your bank account a nice boost.

You might be able to shave some money off your grocery bills by trying out different stores in your neighborhood, since prices can vary a lot between grocery chains.

And make sure to always use a cash-back credit card or rewards app when you shop, so you’ll get a bit of money back on every purchase.

Price-check when you shop online

Noise-cancelling headphones Amazon

2020 was a big year for online shopping, and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon.

It can be tempting to do most of your online shopping on a site like Amazon that carries pretty much everything, but the convenience of sticking to a giant retailer will cost you.

Unless you comparison shop for every item in your cart, you could end up overspending by a lot.

If you want to save yourself the trouble of checking prices on multiple online storefronts, try using a free service called Capital One Shopping.

While you’re browsing on Amazon, Target and other big sites, Capital One Shopping will instantly search other online retailers to see whether a better price is out there somewhere else.

Once you’re ready to check out, Capital One Shopping will automatically try to apply coupon codes gathered from its database of millions of users.

Capital One Shopping takes only a few seconds to set up. It helped people save over $160 million in the last year, and it won’t cost you a cent.

Offset your costs with some side gigs

Remote freelancing
RLTheis / Twenty20

If you’ve got a special talent like drawing, writing or voice acting, you may be able to earn some extra cash by picking up a few side gigs.

A number of online marketplaces will help you advertise your services and connect with customers who are looking for exactly what you’re selling.

Once you start completing gigs and accumulating positive reviews, you can increase your rates and bring in even more money.

You'll be getting paid to do what you love, and who knows? It could be the start of a full-blown career.

Pay off your credit cards ASAP

Hand holding credit card
Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock

Once the dust has settled on your holiday spending, your credit card bill will probably be higher than usual. It’s essential to pay off as much of your balance as you can, as soon as you can.

Credit cards are notorious for their sky-high interest rates, and since credit card interest compounds, a high balance can wind up costing you a ton. You’ll end up paying interest on the interest you already owe.

The easiest way to avoid getting bogged down with credit card interest is to pay your bill on time and in full each month.

If that’s not an option, try to at least pay more than your monthly minimum. Squeezing in a few extra dollars now will save you more down the line.

Depending on your credit score, you may also be able to consolidate your debt with a personal loan at a lower interest rate. When you consolidate, you pay off your troublesome debts with a new loan that’s less painful to carry — saving you a bundle and helping you become debt-free sooner.

About the Author

Shane Murphy

Shane Murphy


Shane is a reporter for MoneyWise. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Language & Literature from Western University and is a graduate of the Algonquin College Scriptwriting program.

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