Out With the Old, in With the New: Changes That Can Save You Big Bucks in the New Year

Jan. 7, 2015
Managing Money
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It’s almost the new year, and there’s a ton to look forward to. Start 2015 on the right foot with these money-saving tips.

Roll over your credit card debt, and save more than \$1,000

The average U.S. household owes about \$7,283 in credit card debt, according to a NerdWallet study. Assuming the average consumer has a credit card APR of 17.35%, that’s a lot of money they’re paying in interest alone. But if they roll over that debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card, they could save \$1,263 a year. Some credit cards even offer 0% interest for up to 18 months.

On our site, we’ve listed all the credit cards that offer 0% interest. Take a look here.

Total savings = \$1,263

Gas prices are going down

The average price of gasoline is estimated to be below \$3 a gallon in 2015 (\$2.60, to be exact). That’s 77 cents per gallon lower than in 2014. Using average figures for miles driven and miles per gallon, that saves you about \$415 a year.

Total savings = \$415

Equation:

Workers ages 16 to 64 drive an average 13,476 miles per year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The average fuel economy in 2013 was 24 miles per gallon, so drivers consume an average 540 gallons of gas per year.

2014 gas prices on average: \$3.37 a gallon x 540 gallons of gas per year = \$1,819.80

2015 gas prices on average: \$2.60 a gallon x 540 gallons of gas per year = \$1,404

Couponing is out … getting cash back is in

Say goodbye to clipping coupons in 2015. Instead, use cash-back mobile apps that give you money back when you buy everyday grocery items — milk, bread, diapers, etc. — from chain grocers and sometimes drugstores and big-box retailers. How they work: You shop for groceries as you typically would, but rather than digging through coupons, you hop onto a cash-back grocery app, such as Ibotta, SavingStar and Snap by Groupon, to see what the offers are. You then scan the bar code on the grocery item or take a snapshot of your receipt to redeem your earnings. You get cash back — a dollar here, 50 cents there — deposited into your bank account or sometimes on a gift card.

Groupon’s Snap says you could probably save up to \$200 a year on groceries using its app.

Total savings = \$200

We have a bigger opportunity to save for retirement

The IRS recently upped the contribution limit to the 401(k) workplace retirement plan by \$500 to \$18,000 for the 2015 tax year. Contributions lower your taxable income. If you contribute the maximum \$18,000 this year and you have a 25% tax rate, you could save over \$4,000 in taxes.

Total savings = \$4,000

Break up with your auto insurance and save big

On average, consumers overpay \$368 a year on auto insurance, according to a NerdWallet study. But if you shop around, you could save up to 32% a year. And shopping around doesn’t have to be painful. Check out various sites, including NerdWallet.com, and compare auto insurance rates across several carriers.

And if you’re a low-mileage driver, you could save \$414 a year through a new company called MetroMile. The company is a bit different from your average auto insurance carrier. Rather than paying every six months, you pay based on the miles you drive. The way they track this is through a small gadget that’s installed on your dashboard. They also have a nice app that gives you instant diagnostics on your car’s health. It even tracks your fuel costs and helps you find your car if you forgot where you parked it.

Right now, the company only covers drivers in California, Oregon, Washington and Illinois.

Total savings = \$414

Start the new year fresh and quit your vices

As the new year approaches, try kicking your vices to the curb. On average, smokers pay \$7 for a pack of cigarettes. If you knock out that pack of cigarettes a week, you can save \$364 a year.

As for cocktails, restaurants mark up their prices quite a bit. If you cut out that \$10 cocktail a week, you can save more than \$500 a year.

Total savings = \$864

Image via iStock.