FHA Streamline Refinance [Rates, Closing Costs & More]

FHA streamline refinancing is a quick and simple way to improve the terms on your home loan — but it only applies to those who have already taken out an FHA loan to finance the purchase of their property. This type of home loan also has different rates, requirements, and costs when compared to traditional mortgages. 

Homeowners with FHA loans may wonder whether a streamline refinance is the right financial move. In this post, we’re walking you through how FHA refinancing works, what you need to know about it, what costs to expect, and how they stack up against using a traditional mortgage refinance. 

Take a look at the topics we’ll cover here:

  • What is an FHA refinance? 
    • FHA streamline refinance
  • FHA streamline refinance closing costs and other expenses
  • FHA refinance: pros and cons
  • Key FHA streamline refinance takeaways

If you’re new to FHA loans and refinancing, we’ll start with some simple definitions. And if you already know what you need and are curious about costs, and pros & cons, you can skip ahead. 

(Note: If you’re looking for more general information on refinancing, be sure to check out our mortgage refinance guide for an in-depth look.)

What is an FHA refinance?

In order to understand an FHA refinance, let’s first explain what an FHA loan is. When you take out a mortgage, your lender — usually a bank or other lending agency — takes a risk on you. They’re betting that if they give you money to purchase property, you’ll be able to pay it back within a set timeframe. That’s why they charge interest: to earn money from the risk they’re taking. It’s also why lenders require extensive credit checks, background checks, closing costs, and fees. 

FHA loans work a little differently. One misconception is that the FHA issues the loans directly. In fact, you can still get an FHA loan from a bank or other lender; they just have to be FHA-approved. What makes a mortgage an FHA loan is that it is insured by the FHA, the Federal Housing Administration. 

Being insured by the FHA means that lenders are more willing to give you favorable terms, like a lower down payment, lower closing costs, and less strict credit score requirements than you might find when applying for a traditional mortgage. 

What does refinancing mean? When you refinance a mortgage, you negotiate the terms on your mortgage debt. Usually, people refinance their mortgage to shorten or lengthen the repayment period, get a lower interest rate, secure other more favorable conditions, or cash-out on home equity to complete a project. 

  • Should you refinance? Read our guide to find out more. 

FHA loans can also be refinanced by negotiating a new FHA loan, although the reasons for your refinance may be more restricted than with a traditional mortgage; for instance, you may not take out more than $500 in cash when taking out an FHA refinance. One popular option that people seek when refinancing an FHA loan is a streamline refinance.

FHA streamline refinance

An FHA streamline refinance is a fast and simple way to refinance an FHA loan. HUD.gov specifies that FHA streamline refinancing doesn’t mean you’ll pay any less in costs, just that the refinancing process has limited documentation and underwriting requirements. 

An FHA streamline refinance does come with a basic set of requirements, however. To get FHA streamline refinancing, you’ll need to make sure that you meet the following conditions:

  • You have an FHA-insured mortgage. If you have a traditional mortgage acquired through a bank, credit union, or lending agency and that loan is not FHA-insured, then you will be ineligible for an FHA streamline refinance. Instead, you may want to consider a traditional mortgage refinance.
  • Your mortgage payments must be current. If you are delinquent on your mortgage payments — that means you’ve missed payments or underpaid — you will not be eligible for an FHA streamline refinance. It’s also important to ask the individual lender what their bank or agency’s policies regarding delinquency are, as some lenders may have more strict requirements than others.
  • The refinance results in a tangible benefit to the borrower. The HUD website specifies that the loan must prove to be a tangible net benefit to the borrower in order for you to qualify. This might mean that you end up paying less overall, or you end up with a more favorable repayment period for your specific financial situation.
  • You may not take out more than $500 in cash while refinancing. Some traditional mortgage refinancing options, like cash-out refinancing, allow borrowers to take out a portion of the equity in their home as cash to be put toward high-cost expenditures or projects of their choosing. This is not an option for FHA streamline refinancing at amounts over $500. 

Streamline refinancing is a good option for some people in select circumstances. In order to make a more informed decision about whether an FHA streamline refinance is the best option for your mortgage, it’s important to know the costs, as well as the pros and cons. 

FHA streamline refinance closing costs and other expenses

As with any mortgage or mortgage refinance, there are a number of costs that come along with taking out an FHA mortgage or an FHA refinance. If you’re considering an FHA refinance, be sure to review these costs before making any final decisions, and weigh them against the potential costs of other financing and refinancing options. 

  • Interest. Like other home loans, there is interest attached to FHA mortgages. FHA streamline refinance rates can vary significantly depending on factors like your credit score, the individual bank, credit union, or lending agency you work with, and the economic conditions at the time — the way the economy is doing can raise and lower interest rates. Sometimes, FHA streamline refinance rates can be higher than traditional mortgage refinancing, so be sure to speak with a professional to learn about your options before committing.
  • Down payment. Most mortgages require you to make a down payment when applying, and the same applies for FHA mortgages. The good news is that these are generally low, which is one of the reasons why many seek out FHA mortgages. Additionally, depending on the specific loan product and the lender, you might not owe any money down when acquiring an FHA refinance.
  • Closing costs. There may be closing costs applied to your FHA streamline refinance depending on the specific lender you work with. Some lenders offer “no cost” refinancing, meaning that the borrower does not pay any closing costs when refinancing their FHA loan. However, the lender may increase the interest rate to offset the lack of closing costs, so be sure to thoroughly research your lender’s FHA refinancing before deciding. It’s also important to note that the closing cost amount cannot be added directly to the total cost of the mortgage for a streamline refinance.
  • Mortgage insurance. Mortgage insurance premiums (MIP) are an extra amount that borrowers must pay to secure a mortgage when their down payment is low; for traditional mortgages, that’s typically below 20%. Mortgage insurance may be applied to your FHA loan depending on your downpayment and other financial factors like your credit score.
    • Note: The FHA may offer partial refunds on some mortgage insurance when you sign up for an FHA streamline refinance. To find out more, use the FHA MIP refund chart to get a better estimate of your potential refund. 

To find out more about possible costs and factors that go into refinancing, read our guide to the mortgage refinance process.

FHA refinance: pros and cons

As you consider your refinancing options, be sure to carefully think through the FHA streamline refinance pros and cons. 

Pros

  • Potential for more favorable terms or lower cost
  • Typically quick and easy to complete
  • Possible mortgage insurance premium refund
  • Lower credit requirements than a traditional mortgage refinance 

Cons

  • Interest rate may be higher depending on a number of factors, including the specific lender you work with and other factors
  • Requirements, like FHA streamline mortgages being restricted to FHA loans, and the requirement that you cannot be delinquent on your mortgage, may exclude some borrowers
  • Those looking for a cash-out refinance to fund home improvements or other large expenses may not be able to secure the funding they need through an FHA refinance

As with many financial products, the bottom line is that whether an FHA streamline refinance works for you depends on your specific financial situation. Understanding the specifics of your personal finances, where you are in your mortgage payments, and what options your lender has available is critical. 

Key FHA streamline refinance takeaways

Considering an FHA home loan or FHA streamline refinance? Keep these key takeaways in mind as you continue your research and assess what options suit your personal financial profile best.

  • FHA loans are mortgages approved and insured by the FHA; they have easier-to-meet requirements than many traditional mortgages. 
  • FHA streamline refinancing can help you secure more favorable terms on an FHA loan while also giving you the opportunity to reduce the amount you owe on mortgage insurance premiums. 
  • Streamline refinancing is quick and requires minimal documentation, but FHA streamline refinancing closing costs may still be applied; sometimes, these are factored into your new interest rate. 
  • Always research your options before settling for any particular mortgage or refinance product. Often, it’s smart to shop around before committing, that way you know you’re getting the best deal that you can get in light of your financial circumstances.

Sources:

HUD.gov | Investopedia 

The post FHA Streamline Refinance [Rates, Closing Costs & More] appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

How to Budget Groceries: 11 Easy Tips

Have you ever sat down to go over your budget only to find out that you’ve outrageously overspent on food? Local, organic, artisan goods and trendy new restaurant outings with friends make it easy to do. With food being the second highest household expense behind mortgage or rent, our food choices have a huge impact on our budget. Using this monthly budget calculator can also help guide how to budget for food. 

You may be surprised to find out that the most nutrient-dense foods are often the most budget-friendly. It’s not only possible, but fun and easy to eat nourishing, delicious food while still sticking to your budget. Here are 11 ways to help you learn how to budget groceries.

1. Track Current Spending

Before you figure out what you should be spending on food, it’s important to figure out what you are spending on food. Keep grocery store receipts to get a realistic picture of your current spending habits. If you feel inclined, create a spreadsheet to break down your spending by category, including beverages, produce, etc. Once you’ve done this, you can get an idea of where to trim down spending.

2. Allocate a Percentage of Your Income

How much each household spends on food varies based on income level and how many people need to be fed. Consider using a grocery calculator if you’re not sure where to start. While people spent about 30 percent of their income on food in 1950, this percentage has dropped to 9–12 today. Consider allocating 10 percent of your income to food as a starting point, and increase from there if necessary.

3. Avoid Eating Out

This is the least fun tip, we promise. Eating out is a quick and easy way to ruin your food budget. If you’re actively dating or enjoy going out to eat with friends, be sure to factor restaurants into your food budget — and strictly adhere to your limit. Coffee drinkers, consider making your favorite concoctions at home.

4. Plan Your Meals

It’s much easier to stick to a budget when you have a plan. Plus, having a purpose for each grocery item you buy will ensure nothing goes to waste or just sits in your pantry unused. Don’t be afraid of simple salads or meatless Mondays. Not every meal has to be a gourmet, grandiose experience.

5. Keep a Fridge Grocery List

Keep a magnetized grocery list on your fridge so that you can replace items as needed. This ensures you’re buying food you know you’ll eat because you’re already used to buying it. Sticking to a list in the grocery store is an effective way to keep yourself accountable and not spend money on processed or pricey items — there’s no need to take a stroll down the candy aisle if it’s not on the list.

6. Eat Before You Go to the Store

If your mother gave you this advice growing up, she was onto something: according to a survey, shoppers spend an average of 64 percent more when hungry. Sticking to a budget is all about eliminating temptations, so plan to eat beforehand to eliminate tantalizing foods that will cause you to go over-budget.

7. Be Careful with Coupons

50 percent off ketchup is a great deal — unless you don’t need ketchup. Beware of coupons that claim you’ll “save” money. If the item isn’t on your list, you’re not saving at all, but rather spending on something you don’t truly need. This discretion is key to saving money at the grocery store.

8. Embrace the Bulk Section

Not only is the bulk section of your grocery store great for cheap, filling staples, but it’s also the perfect way to discover new foods and bring variety into your diet. Take the time to compare the price of buying pre-packaged goods versus bulk — it’s almost always cheaper to buy in bulk, plus eliminating unnecessary packaging is good for the planet.

Bonus: a diet rich in unprocessed, whole plant foods provides virtually every nutrient, ensuring optimal health and keeping you from spending an excess amount on healthcare costs.

9. Bring Lunch to Work

Picture this: you’re trying to stick to a strict food budget, and one day at work you realize it’s lunchtime and you’re hungry. But alas, you forgot to pack a lunch. All the meal planning and smart shopping in the world won’t solve the work-lunch-dilemma. Brown-bagging your lunch is key to ensuring your food budget is successful. Plus, it can be fun! Think mason jar salads and Thai curry bowls.

10. Love Your Leftovers

Would you ever consider throwing $640 cash into the trash? This is what the average American household does every year — only instead of cash, it’s $640 worth of food that’s wasted. With millions of undernourished people around the globe, throwing away food not only hurts our budget but is a waste of the world’s resources. Tossing food is no joke. Eat your leftovers.

11. Freeze Foods That Are Going Bad

To avoid wasting food, freeze things that look like they’re about to go bad. Fruit that’s past its prime can be frozen and used in smoothies. Make double batches of soups, sauces, and baked goods so you’ll always have an alternative to ordering takeout when you don’t feel like cooking.

Sticking to a food budget takes planning and discipline. While it may not seem fun at first, you’ll likely find that you enjoy cooking and trying a variety of new foods you wouldn’t have thought to use before. Being resourceful and cooking healthfully is a skill that will benefit your wallet and waistline for years to come.

 

Sources: Turbo | Fool | Forbes | Medical Daily | GO Banking Rates | Value Penguin

The post How to Budget Groceries: 11 Easy Tips appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Do You Know How Much You’re Spending on Dining and Takeout?

Pretty much everyone upped their spending on take-out food in 2020 – and for good reason. With restaurants closed for indoor dining and grocery stores experiencing unpredictable staffing and inventory issues, many consumers chose to order out for the majority of their meals.

Now that things are slowly returning to normal, you may be wondering how to adjust your budget accordingly. We’ll walk you through how to determine the right amount to budget for take-out and dining, and give you some strategies to save money when ordering from your favorite restaurants.

How Much Should You Spend on Dining and Take-Out?

It’s hard to give an exact prescription for how much you should spend on take-out because it largely depends on the specifics of your budget and financial situation. In general, your food budget, including groceries and eating out, should make up between 10 and 15% of your income. Families with multiple children may spend more than that, so don’t worry if your percentage exceeds the recommendation.

If you’re not sure how much you spend on food, go through your transactions for the past few months and calculate the percentage.

John Bovard, CFP of Incline Wealth Advisors said consumers who have no credit card debt and invest 20% or more of their income in a retirement account can spend 10% of their post-tax income on take-out.

Ways to Save on Takeout

Want to keep your takeout tradition but still feel like you’re spending too much? Here are some tips to save money when ordering out from your favorite restaurants:

Pick up in person

Everyone knows that delivery fees add a huge surcharge to your total bill, but you might not realize how big the difference actually is. A New York Times article found that the same sandwich at Subway costs between 25% and 91% more when delivered, depending on the specific delivery app.

A $20 order could cost between $5 and $18.20 more if you get it delivered. The cost is generally higher during weekends and holidays.

Look for specials

Plan your take-out around restaurant specials. Follow restaurants on social media to see when they’re running discounts, like half-price oysters on Sundays or happy hour specials. When you’re picking up the food, ask someone behind the counter when the best deals are.

Restaurants often print coupon codes or discounts on their receipts, so don’t forget to check there.

Use discounted gift cards

Many restaurants and fast food places sell gift cards and often run special sales, like selling a $50 gift card for $45. This is especially popular during the holiday season.

Wholesale clubs like Costco and Sam’s Club regularly sell discounted gift cards to popular chains. For example, you can buy $100 worth of gift cards to California Pizza Kitchen for only $80 at Costco, or $75 worth of Domino’s gift cards for only $65.

You can also buy restaurant gift cards online through GiftCardGranny or CardCash, which sell gift cards for up to 10% off.

Skip dinner

Dinner is the most expensive meal of the day, so opt for breakfast or lunch if you’re eating out. If you get take-out a couple times a week, use one for dinner and the other for brunch or lunch.

Cash in rewards

Some restaurants have loyalty programs you can join with an email address or phone number, while others have an old-fashioned punch card system. Keep track of these rewards so you cash them out before they expire.

Order catering

If you’re eating with a group of people, see if the restaurant offers catering, which may be less expensive than ordering individual entrees. Everyone will have to eat the same thing, but it’s a great way to save money.

Sign up for restaurant emails

Both local and national restaurants often have email newsletters you can join to get extra discounts. For example, my favorite Mexican restaurant is constantly sending me emails for 10 or 15% off take-out.

Create a separate label for these emails so you can sort through them before ordering take-out. You can also add reminders on your phone to use the discounts before they expire.

Use a rewards credit card

Many credit cards offer points or cashback when you dine out, and some let you cash in points for restaurant gift cards. Look up the rewards policies for your current credit cards to see which one you should use for restaurants.

Consider opening a new card if you don’t have a dining rewards card. The Chase Sapphire Preferred offers 2% cashback for dining and also comes with a year of DashPass, the DoorDash subscription service with $0 delivery fees.

Chase Sapphire Reserve cardholders earn 3% cashback on dining, get a free year’s worth of DashPass and also have $60 of DoorDash credit for the first year.

Most dining rewards cards have an annual fee, usually around $95, so don’t open one unless the cashback rewards will exceed the fee. Some card companies will waive the fee for the first year, allowing you to see if you’ll earn enough rewards to offset the fee. Some rewards credit cards also let you cash in points for restaurant gift cards.

Buy a food delivery subscription

If you don’t have easy access to transportation, then ordering delivery may be your best option.  In this case, consider signing up for a food delivery membership. DoorDash, Grubhub, Postmates, and Uber Eats all offer a monthly subscription for around $10. Each subscription comes with free delivery and other specials.

Before you sign up, calculate how often you order out and see if a monthly membership makes sense. If you have a neighbor or roommate, consider splitting a subscription with them to save even more money.

Many of these services have a free trial period, allowing you to gauge how much you’ll actually use them. Choose the app with the largest number of restaurants you like.

Use a browser extension

Browser extensions like Rakuten provide cashback when you order from delivery sites like Grubhub and Seamless. Just click on the Rakuten button on the top right of your browser when you visit either of those sites. You’ll earn up to 11% cashback with eligible orders.

The post Do You Know How Much You’re Spending on Dining and Takeout? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

What Is Earnest Money?

Earnest money is a deposit a potential homebuyer places to signal to the seller that they have serious interest in a property. Also called a “good faith” deposit, this money benefits both the buyer and the seller during the homebuying process.

Purchasing a home involves a number of financial transactions, like saving for a down payment, securing a loan, and paying closing costs. Earnest money is another cost associated with buying a home, but it has the added role of protecting both buyers and sellers from some of the risks associated with a real estate transaction.

  • If the purchase falls through, earnest money helps sellers recoup time lost when the house was off the market.
  • If the contract terms are not met, earnest money is often refunded to the buyer.
  • If the purchase is successful, the earnest money deposit is applied toward the down payment for the home.

Read on to learn all about how earnest money works, how it benefits buyers and sellers, and what these deposits look like in different situations.

How Earnest Money Works

When a buyer is serious about purchasing a property, they use earnest money to signal their intent to purchase it. Although the deal is not finalized at this point, a significant earnest money deposit often prompts the seller to accept an offer, which changes the listing status to “under contract.”

While the amount of earnest money required varies, it frequently amounts to 1 to 3 percent of the total cost of the home. While earnest money is not always required, most sellers do prefer the deposit as a way of finding serious offers, and in competitive markets, a larger deposit provides the possibility of standing out in a crowded field of offers.

When a buyer places an earnest money deposit, the money goes into an escrow account, which means that a third party keeps the funds safe until an agreement is reached. After the house is closed on, the money is applied toward the down payment.

However, the real value of earnest money comes from the way it benefits both homebuyers and sellers.

When Is Earnest Money Refunded?

Earnest money deposits can be refunded in situations that don’t go according to plan, helping to protect homebuyers from several risks.

After the deposit is placed, a buyer and seller enter into a contract to begin the process of changing ownership. This contract describes several contingencies, which are conditions that have to be met before the contract is considered binding.

If any of these conditions are not met, then the contract falls through — and in several cases, the buyer will get their earnest money deposit refunded.

situations-where-earnest-money-is-refunded

In the following situations, a homebuyer will have their earnest money refunded:

  • If the appraised value of the home is lower than the cost to purchase, the buyer can back out of the sale with their deposit.
  • If the home fails inspection, the buyer can leave the sale with their deposit or negotiate a lower price based on the cost of repairs.
  • If the buyer cannot secure a mortgage for the cost of the home, they are able to void the contract and reclaim their deposit.

That said, all of these situations are only covered if these contingencies are specifically laid out in the contract, so make sure to read carefully before signing. In any case, it’s very helpful for homebuyers to know that their deposit can be refunded in situations where the contract cannot be fulfilled by the seller.

Earnest money deposits also benefit sellers, who take on a risk when they begin contract negotiations with a buyer.

How Earnest Money Benefits Sellers

The most obvious way that earnest money benefits sellers is that it provides a clear signal about which buyers are serious. That said, there is an even more crucial way that earnest money deposits protect sellers during the course of a real estate sale.

After a potential buyer has put down an acceptable earnest money deposit, the seller will typically enter into negotiations. As a result, the listing for the home changes to “under contract,” which discourages other potential buyers.

If the buyer backs out of the sale, the seller has lost time that the house could have been shown to other buyers, and they may need to pay additional costs to re-list the house on the market. However, because the seller is given the earnest money deposit in this situation, they are able to recoup some of their losses.

While these deposits may at first seem burdensome, ultimately they are beneficial to everyone involved in the process of buying or selling a home.

Examples of Earnest Money Deposits

In order to truly understand how earnest money works, it can be helpful to imagine some of the main scenarios that occur after a deposit is placed.

three-scenarios-for-earnest-money

After a buyer puts down an earnest money deposit and contract negotiations begin, there are three typical situations:

  1. The buyer backs out: If the buyer backs out of the sale, the seller retains the earnest money deposit.
  2. The contract conditions are not met: Conditions that are not met — like the home inspection contingency or the appraisal contingency — lead to a void contract, so the buyer can walk away with their earnest money.
  3. The sale closes: If the buyer and seller agree to terms and the sale closes, the buyer’s earnest money deposit is applied toward the down payment.

As you can see, earnest money deposits are positive for both buyers and sellers. Sellers benefit because buyers are more committed and financially invested, and buyers benefit because contingencies allow them to walk away from a situation that was not as it appeared. And if the sale closes, the earnest money is applied to the cost, leaving all parties satisfied.

Purchasing a home is an important financial milestone, and understanding earnest money is a great first step in the process of buying real estate. To make sure you’re on track, fine-tune your budget before preparing to buy a home. And once you’ve settled on the right place, don’t forget to consider additional costs like home improvements or home repairs.

The post What Is Earnest Money? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com

Are All the Food Delivery and Subscription Services Worth It?

We’re living in an age of convenience. Groceries can be delivered, clothes can be picked out for you and just about every TV show and movie ever made can be beamed straight into your living room. If I had the money, I could get pretty much everything I need without ever leaving my house.

But unfortunately, I don’t have the money. Do you?

As our society has collectively fallen in love with subscription services, many of us have let them take over our budget. Because these are recurring expenses, it’s all too easy to sign up and forget about your card being charged every month.

It’s time to finally ask yourself -are all of these subscription services worth the money?

Are You Spending Too Much on Subscription Services?

Before you can decide if meal subscription and delivery services are eating up too much of your budget, you have to figure out how much you’re spending on them. This is a very subjective and personal question that depends on your income, total spending and other goals.

Look at your monthly subscription and food delivery spending in Mint, checking to see if the numbers align with your budget. Take the time to sort and categorize the transactions if you haven’t done so in a while. It may help to look through several month’s worth of expenses, because some subscription services like FabFitFun only ship once a quarter.

Spending may also vary based on the seasons or other external factors. You may spend more on food delivery services during final exams because you’re too busy to meal plan. If the seasons change and you don’t have any clothes, you may spend more on personal styling services.

Once you have an accurate account of how much you spend, compare it to your income and other expenses. Spending $50 a week on a meal kit service doesn’t mean anything without context. You need to know how that compares to your other expenses.

How to Cut Down on Subscription Services

If you found that you’re overspending on subscription services, it doesn’t mean that you need to cut them out entirely. Think about how much value each service provides to your life, and prioritize where your money is going.

Make a list of all the subscription services you currently have and how much you spend on them each month. Then rank the subscription and delivery services from most important to least.

Write down how often you actually use the products or services. Be honest with yourself. The goal is to keep the boxes and services that you actually use, love and enjoy on a regular basis. This can help you identify which services don’t fit into your lifestyle – or budget.

Try to be as objective and ruthless as possible here. Yes, you may love getting the monthly Stitch Fix box in the mail, but do you actually keep the clothes they send? Learning to cook with Blue Apron may be a worthy goal, but do you actually like the meals they send?

Once you have a list of essential subscriptions, look at your budget again and determine how much money is left for those services. If the available amount is greater than the total cost, you’re in the clear.

However, if the amount is more than you can afford, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. If you absolutely can’t bear the thought of parting with your subscriptions, you’ll have to look at cuts you can make in other spending categories.

How to Save on Subscription Services

Chances are, you’re paying more for some of your subscription services than is absolutely necessary. Most video streaming services let you watch multiple screens at once so you can split it with friends or family. Some even have student deals if you have a university email address. Your school may even have its own special agreements with certain providers.

If there are a lot of subscription services you want to keep, consider alternating which ones you use throughout the year. Most subscription and delivery services make it easy to cancel and resubscribe later.

For example, if you have a beauty box subscription and a bathroom full of toiletries, quit the service until you’ve used most of the products. Many of these products expire, so you’ll be saving money and cutting down on waste.

If you subscribe services but only use them during a particular season, like a streaming service tied to a seasonal sport, get rid of them and reactivate when you’re ready. You can also do this with streaming services that only have a few shows you’re interested in. Once you’re done watching Stranger Things, for example, you can deactivate your Netflix membership for no penalty.

Seek Alternative Ways to Save

Looking for cheaper versions of your favorite services can also help you avoid overspending. Some grocery stores now have meal kits similar to Blue Apron or HelloFresh. It’s not as convenient, but it’s a much more affordable alternative.

Many companies give customers referral codes they can send out to friends and family. When people use your referral codes, you’ll earn free credit or cash. For example, Barkbox provides a free month if someone signs up for a six or 12-month membership through your referral link.

Sometimes companies will have a special coupon for new customers that use referral codes, like Stitch Fix who provide a $25 bonus for both the new customer and the one who referred them.

You can share these links on social media, by text or through email. Some programs have a limit on how much you can earn with referral codes, but it never hurts to try. If you end up exceeding that amount, you can apply for their official affiliate program to earn cash instead of credit.

If you do cancel a program, check your bank account to make sure you’re no longer paying for it. Some services are guilty of occasionally charging former subscribers even after they’ve quit.

Which subscription service are you going to cut back on this year? Let us know in the comments!

The post Are All the Food Delivery and Subscription Services Worth It? appeared first on MintLife Blog.

Source: mint.intuit.com