6 ways to keep more money in your pocket

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These money-saving hacks can help break the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.

If you’re anything like me, the idea of budgeting or sticking to a spending plan makes you cringe. But the reality is, a few simple lifestyle tweaks can lead to big savings. Here are a few things that have helped me keep my finances on track.

1. Check the fridge 

Before you head to the store for you weekly groceries, take an inventory of your pantry and refrigerator. Often times I forget what I have on hand and impulse buy multiples of items I already have — which often expire without being used. Taking a quick peak in the fridge or cabinet will help you eliminate waste and gives you the chance to clean out any expired food items. I’ve also found that planning my meals for the week and making my list accordingly helps me stay organized and rely less on takeout after a long day at the office.

2. Stop paying full price for household items 

Most of the stores you are already shopping at (like Walgreens, Target, Winn-Dixie, etc.) offer weekly digital coupons for products that are likely on your list. Downloading your favorite store’s app can help you save money on all things — from laundry detergent to toothpaste and paper towels.

3. The gift card trick 

Gift cards are not just for Christmas and birthdays anymore. Many people are finding significant savings through gift cards offered at wholesale stores like Costco and Sam's Club. These stores sell racks of gift cards to your favorite restaurants and stores at a 20-30% discount. Meaning the cards hold more value than what you pay for them.  

So if you're going to be spending money at your favorite coffee shop anyway, consider purchasing gift cards from Sam’s or Costco. The discount could amount to a free coffee or two!

4. Earn rewards 

Many places, including your credit union, value your loyalty and will reward you for it! Ask about loyalty programs with companies you frequent. And if you budget allows, consider using your Louisiana FCU Platinum Rewards MasterCard for monthly expenses such as gas and groceries, accumulate points and earn rewards.

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5. Shop around for the best rates on insurance 

Having an agent you trust and who treats you well is an incredible gift. If you haven’t made changes to your auto or home policies in a while, consider giving your agent a call and ask them to shop around to make sure you are getting the best rate. If you don’t have a dedicated agent, try comparing rates with as many companies as you can and weigh the benefits of coverage against your current monthly payment to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck.

Did you know your credit score is often a contributing factor to your insurance premiums? Monitor your credit by visiting annualcreditreport.com to check for accuracy and see where you stand. Major contributing factors for your credit score include on time payments and credit usage. Try to keep your credit card usage below 30% for best score results.

6. Sell your stuff 

Sadly, there are a ton of items around my house that I've only used once, or never got around to returning. If you have "like new" or gently used items that you're ready to part ways with, consider listing them on Facebook marketplace. It's a quick and effortless way to make some extra dough.

Here's the bottom line: You don’t have to be on a strict budget to cushion your pockets between paydays. Small changes over a period of time can make a big difference in your financial life.

Budgeting isn’t all spreadsheets and receipts anymore. Check out the budgeting tool in your online banking app to track your spending and get a better idea of where your money actually goes!

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