For most workers in the United States, the fiscal cliff was not truly averted for 2013. Stagnant wages and the return for payroll taxes to the way they were a few years ago make saving money a priority for average Americans who virtually live from paycheck to paycheck. The culprit is the rollback of Social Security contributions, which in 2011 and 2012 were just 4.2 percent. Now that they are back to 6.2 percent, many workers are feeling the pinch every payday.
For a household of four who depends on a combined annual income of $50,000, the payroll tax hike means that they will see $1,000 less in 2013 and beyond. This calls for immediate measures that should be taken to ensure that saving money is a priority this year. With the right amount of planning and cost-cutting, families in the United States can avert the fiscal cliff on their own.
Start with Insurance Policies
Saving a few dollars on insurance premium payments should be step number one, particularly with auto insurance. Some insurers will automatically adjust their policy premiums as drivers get older, but few will reward safe drivers on their own. If various drivers in the household have not gotten a traffic ticket in the last couple of years, it may be time to ask insurance agents to review the current rates. Another option is to ask about getting discounts for bundling different policies with insurers that provide life, home and auto insurance coverage.
Banks are closing down branches all over the country and encouraging account holders to use online banking instead. This may present opportunities to save money on maintenance and automated teller fees. There is a lot of competition among banks in this regard, which makes it reasonable to shop around for the best deals.
Lower Mortgage Interest Rates
Current mortgage interest rates are at all-time record lows thanks to intervention by the Federal Reserve Bank. This trend is bound to continue in 2013, and adjustable rate mortgages (ARMs) offer great deals for families who only intend to stay in their current properties for the next five years or less.
Telephone, Internet and Cable TV Fees
Many households do not realize how much redundancy they fall into with regard to digital entertainment and communications. Smartphone data plans that allow tethering could be a solution for broadband Internet service, and users who regularly enjoy online programming via YouTube, Hulu and Netflix could realize greater savings by downgrading their cable TV packages.