Lesser Known Ways to Save Money

Published on September 19th, 2016

In a previous blog, I discussed the importance of budgeting.  I discussed it as an integral part of getting out of debt.  As part of the article, I discussed the most common ways of reducing expenses.  This month, I’d like to discuss a couple of ways to save money that may be a little out of the mainstream–Property tax appeals and exemptions and refinancing loans.

Anybody that owns a property knows the sting of paying property taxes.  Every year, it seems like taxes go up.  Whether your assessed valuation goes up or the multiplier is increased, you’re paying more in property taxes.  What can you do to reduce your tax liability or at least limit the annual increase?

You can start by appealing your AssessmentIn the past couple of years, two of my co-workers filed appeals of their assessment because their houses were being compared to houses that didn’t have the same features as their own houses.  As an example, a house with no basement was being compared to a house with a basement.  The assessment was challenged and the valuation was reduced.

Another was to reduce, or limit your Property Tax bill is to apply for all appropriate exemptions.  I think just about everybody knows about the Homeowner’s Exemption.  Less probably know about the Senior Citizen and Senior Freeze Exemptions.  The following Exemptions also appear on the Cook County Assessor’s Office website:  Longtime Homeowner Exemption, Home Improvement Exemption, Returning Veterans Exemption, Disabled Veterans Homeowner Exemption, and Disabled Persons Exemption.  There are different rules for each of these, but the Assessor’s website does a nice job of explaining them all.  Another thing to note from the Assessor’s website, the Senior Exemption must be applied for each year according to a new state law.  The Senior Freeze must be filed each year as well.

Another way to save money is by refinancing loans with another lender.  Most people know that they can refinance home loans (both Mortgage and Home Equity Loans), but many are not aware that they can refinance all other types of loans as well.  We refinance auto and recreational vehicles, as well as personal loans and credit cards every day at the credit union.  We’re always looking to find ways to save our members money through refinancing.  I’m sure other financial institutions would consider doing the same for you.

Most refinances end up dropping the rate by one percent, but sometimes it can be much more.  Typically, our auto refinances will save the borrower on average around $500 over the remaining term of the loan.  The part that is deceiving about refinancing is that the monthly difference in payment can be rather small, like $10.  But, if the remaining term of the loan is 60 months, on an original 72 month loan, over the course of the remaining term, the savings becomes $600.  Sadly, not everyone will take advantage of the $10/month savings and decide against saving themselves $600.  We’re often told that the $10 monthly savings isn’t enough.  Depending on the type and term of the loan, it’s possible to save thousands. 

As always, I love to get feedback or answer any questions that you may have.  Please email me at david.lukas@leydencu.org.


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