2023 Financial Hacks

2023 Financial Hacks
With the cost of living crisis set to continue in 2023, many households will be taking steps to make their budget go further.

From cutting back to earning extra cash, Forbes shares 23 ideas to consider in the New Year.

Save Money
1. Use a browser extension
Free browser extensions such as Honey and Coupert automatically scour the web for discount codes whenever you make a purchase online.
Discounts vary and aren’t always available, but Honey says its users save an average of $90 a year.

2. Cut credit card payments down to size
If credit card payments are eating into your monthly budget, transfer your debt to a 0% balance transfer credit card.

These credit cards charge 0% interest for a limited time — typically between 12 and 24 months. During this period, you won’t accrue any interest on the balance transferred. However, you will pay interest on new purchases – unless stated otherwise – and must continue making at least the minimum monthly repayments. If you don’t clear your balance in full during the 0% period, interest will start to accrue on it. 

As with all credit cards, the length of the promotional period, the APR (annual percentage rate) you are shown – and even if you are offered a card at all – depends on your credit score and individual circumstances. 

3. You may be able to challenge your property tax assessment

The tax assessment of your home is not a secret; it is a public document that you can review, by getting a copy from the tax assessor's office (most likely online). Look for any inaccurate or incomplete information that leads the local tax assessor to place too high a value on the property.

Among other things, check the following:
• Is your home correctly classified as residential property?
• Is the size of your home and the lot it sits on correctly stated?
• Does the record accurately list the number of bedrooms and bathrooms?
• Does the record list any improvements that were not actually made?
• Are defects in your home, such as a leaky basement or an aging roof, mentioned?
• Is the age of your home accurately stated?
• Is the purchase price accurate?
• Does the record give you the benefit of all the tax breaks that you might qualify for?

Michigan also offers an easy-to-use property tax estimator on its website.

If there's wrong or incomplete information, let the tax assessor know, so that the record can be corrected and the taxable value adjusted. But even if the tax record is accurate, you might disagree with the tax assessor's conclusion regarding the market value of your home. In that case, you will need to do more.

4. Spring clean your subscriptions
If you use several subscription services, setting aside an hour or so to audit them could be time well spent. 
Once you know exactly what’s leaving your account each month, you can cancel any you don’t use, or think you don’t use enough. Although be sure only to delete direct debits you are not committed to paying.

5. Buy unwanted gift cards
If you’re planning a purchase and have a specific shop in mind, you could save money by buying it with a gift card that someone else didn’t want. 

Sites such as Raise, GC Spread and CardCash allow you to buy unwanted gift cards for 5% to 15% below their face value.

If you’re stuck with gift cards you don’t expect to use after Christmas, you can also sell them to these sites as well…some as high as 92% of card value.

6. Use the microwave more
With energy prices set to rise again in 2023, using the microwave rather than the oven could help lower your electricity bills. 

According to DTE, microwaves are more efficient than ovens because they heat only the food — not the air around it. 

7. Get alerts when prices drop
If you’re planning a large purchase on Amazon, tools such as CamelCamelCamel allow you to receive email alerts when prices drop for the products you want to buy. 

8. Collect points
Collecting points could help you make savings that add up over time.
If you’re a regular Kroger or Meijer shopper and fill up at their gas stations, you can collect and spend accumulated points when you buy food or fuel.

9. Never pay full price for a haircut
If you’re in need of a haircut or other beauty treatment, it’s worth checking whether your local college or beauty school runs its own salon which gives trainees a chance to practice their skills under professional supervision and provide services from haircuts to manicures at a discount.

10. Be patient
If you’re prone to impulse buying online, try leaving items you want — but don’t need — in your virtual basket for a while before committing to a purchase.

You might realize the purchase isn’t worth it. If you do decide to go ahead, some retailers send discount codes to encourage would-be customers to complete their transaction.
This trick only works if the retailer already has your email address, so you’ll need to either be logged in when you add items to your basket, or far enough through the checkout process to have provided contact details. 

11. Turn down the thermostat 
Turning down the thermostat might not make you popular at home but setting the temperature just one degree lower might escape notice – and could save you as much as $130 a year. 

12. Invest in an electric blanket
Using an electric blanket can help you stay warm at night without needing to heat the whole room — saving you money on your heating bill. 

You can find out more about weekly cost of running common household appliances from energy.gov.

13. Plan your meals
Planning meals in advance and using a shopping list can reduce impulse buying and food waste.
Including less meat can also cut the cost of your meals. If you don’t forgo meat altogether, you could make it go further by adding pulses such as lentils to bulk up stews, chili, curries and soups. 
Any leftovers can be eaten for lunch the next day or frozen.

Make Money
14. Check if you’re eligible for benefits 
Billions of dollars go unclaimed each year. Use unclaimedproperty.michigan.gov or fltreasurehunt.gov/ to see if you have any undiscovered cash.

15. Sell unwanted items
Selling items you no longer want on sites such as eBay or Facebook Marketplace is a simple way to bring in extra cash — and free up space at home.

16. Get paid to give feedback
Websites such as i-Say (previously Ipsos), Swagbucks, and Opinion Outpost pay members to take part in surveys about everything from hair products to entertainment.
Individual surveys might only pay a small amount, but you can take as many as you like.
If you prefer to give feedback in person, you can also get paid to take part in focus groups, or act as a mystery shopper. 

Some of the best options to consider according to GoBankingRates include the following:
— BestMark
— IntelliShop
— Market Force
— Service Evaluation Concepts
— Secret Shopper
— Signature Worldwide
— Sinclair Customer Metrics

17. Use your talents online
From graphic design to proof-reading, there are several different options when it comes to making money online. 
Platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer and Peopleperhour connect freelancers with clients — but they will take a portion of your profit in commission. 

18. Rent out your car
If you’ve got a car or van going unused in the drive, renting it out could bring in some extra cash. Getaround and Turo programs have just been added in the Detroit area.

By Bethany Garner
Reprinted from Forbes