Despite our best intentions, we occasionally forget to pay a bill or let cash rewards expire—even the savviest consumers mess up once in a while. But little money mistakes can have a big impact on finances. Don’t let your cash go to waste.
Here are some little things can than make a big difference.
• Always pay library fines and parking tickets. It might feel like these small infractions will just go away with time, but both can actually be turned over to a collection agency. Don’t let that copy of The Catcher in the Rye under your couch be the reason your credit score dips.
• Avoid impulsive sign-ups for store credit cards. Adding another credit card to your repertoire should never be a decision made lightly. Yes, you may instantly save 20% on those summer sandals, but if you don’t pay the balance off every month then interest can negate those savings. Plus, multiple credit inquiries, especially over a short period of time, may affect your credit score.
• Take advantage of price matching and adjustments. The majority of stores offer price adjustments within a 7-14 day period, or they’ll match (and even beat) competitor’s prices. Home Depot will match lower prices and give you an additional 10% discount, and Best Buy recently started price matching online-only competitors like Amazon.
• Try to make an extra mortgage payment. If you are able to make one extra mortgage payment each year, you may save thousands of dollars and shave years off your mortgage. You can set up an automated payment to send in an extra check each year. Just be sure to let them know it’s to be applied to principle.
• Don’t hoard rewards points. Whether it’s cash back on your credit card or frequent flyer miles, use it before you lose it! Cash rewards often lose value over time and miles can disappear if you don’t fly regularly. Also, rewards cards tend to carry a higher interest rate so unless you can pay off your balance in full, your rewards may be negated by interest.
Final tip: Payment history accounts for the largest chunk of your FICO score, which is why it’s so important to pay your bills on time. If you are late on a payment, take care of it as quickly as possible. Your credit score can reflect the severity of your delinquency. When it comes time to apply for loans, a higher score will often get you lower interest rates.