by Dana George | Updated July 25, 2021 - First published on April 29, 2021
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Taking these seven small steps can give your budget a cash infusion.
Whether there will be another round of direct stimulus payments is anyone's guess. Whether the government comes through or not, we've come up with a list of alternative ways to add funds to your bank account while giving yourself some financial breathing room.
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During the heart of the pandemic, big-name rental car companies -- like Avis and Hertz -- were forced to sell a portion of their car inventory to stay above water. Now that vaccinations are going into arms and Americans are traveling more, the demand for rental cars is high. Even though we have not officially entered vacation season, there's already a shortage of rental cars, particularly in popular destination spots. For rental car companies, it's not as easy as going out and buying new vehicles. A computer-chip shortage in the auto industry has slowed the speed at which new cars are being built. The low inventory of rental cars has led to high prices. There is no indication of when the situation might improve.
If you have a car you can spare (even once in a while), car-sharing service companies like Turo allow you to earn extra cash by sharing your vehicle through their service when you're not using it.
Most people could fill a few boxes with the stuff lying around their homes that they no longer use or need. Be brutal. If you haven't used something in six months or more, chances are you don't need it. Sell extra stuff on your neighborhood website and bring in additional funds. You can also sell through eBay, Decluttr, Mercari, or Facebook Marketplace.
If you haven't already, bundle your home and auto policies. Doing so can cut your premiums by more than 20%. While you're checking on your policies, take a look at your current deductible and decide whether you have enough cash in your emergency savings account to raise your deductible. Doing so will snag you a premium discount.
If you're carrying high-interest debt, you're burning money each month -- funds that could make your life easier. There are a couple of ways to save cash:
There's a fair chance that you have money sitting somewhere with your name attached. It may be an old account you've forgotten about, a utility deposit refund, or life insurance proceeds. Investigate by typing your name into MissingMoney.com. (There's no need to hit the green "search" button, as you can search the site without downloading an extension. Just type in your name and hit the red search button.)
Also, search USA.gov for any funds you may be due from pensions, life insurance, insurance refunds, SEC claims, bank or credit union failures, savings bonds, unclaimed bankruptcy funds, foreign claims, or unclaimed tax refund checks.
If you own property and haven't refinanced it yet, now is the time to look into it. With interest rates near record lows, technology company Black Knight says that more than 7 million homeowners could cut $300 a month off their mortgage payment, and another 2.5 million could save more than $500 per month by refinancing.
Financial services like Acorns allow you to automatically transfer change from purchases to build an investment account with very little effort. Imagine you pull out your debit card to pay for a $9.75 movie ticket. The service automatically "rounds up" to the nearest dollar and puts the change into an investment account. Chances are, you'll never miss that extra $0.25, but you will appreciate it when you suddenly have a decent nest egg going. Let's say you end up with an average of $3.00 daily in round-ups. After one year, that's nearly $1,100, plus any interest accrued.
While stimulus checks have been a lifeline for many over the past year, it's ultimately the small, everyday financial decisions that impact your long-term financial picture -- now and in the future.
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