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Financial Health

Money Saving Tips

General

  • Save your loose change. Putting aside fifty cents a day over the course of a year will allow you to save nearly 40% of a $500 emergency fund.
  • Keep track of your spending. At least once a month, use credit card, checking, and other records to review what you've purchased. Then, ask yourself if it makes sense to reallocate some of this spending to an emergency savings account.
  • Never purchase expensive items on impulse. Think over each expensive purchase for at least 24 hours. Acting on this principle will mean you have far fewer regrets about impulse purchases, and far more money for emergency savings.

Food

  • Substitute homemade coffee for expensive coffee drinks. The $2 or more a day you could well save would allow you, over the course of a year, to completely fund a $500 emergency fund.
  • Bring lunch to work. If buying lunch at work costs $5, but making lunch at home costs only $2.50, then in a year, you could afford to create a $500 emergency fund and still have money left over.
  • Eat out one fewer time each month. If it costs you $25 to eat out, but only $5 to eat in, then the $20 you save each month allows you to almost completely fund a $500 emergency savings account.
  • Shop for food with a list and stick to it. People who do food shopping with a list, and buy little else, spend much less money than those who decide what to buy when they get to the food market. The annual savings could easily be hundreds of dollars.
  • Set the refrigerator for 38-40F. Keep your refrigerator away from your heat registers and oven, if possible.
  • Keep your refrigerator door closed as much as possible.
  • When loading groceries into the refrigerator, open the door and load everything at once, instead of opening and closing the door several times for smaller loads.
  • To test how airtight your refrigerator is, close a dollar bill in the door. If it’s easy to slide out, consider getting a new, more energy efficient model or resealing the door.

Entertainment

  • Research free or inexpensive entertainment in your community. Use local newspapers and websites to learn about free or low-cost parks, museums, film showings, sports events, and other places which you and your family would enjoy.
  • Give up premium cable channels. It’s a lot cheaper to rent one film a week than watch one on premium cable channels that may cost more than $500 a year.
  • Borrow books rather than purchasing them. Borrowing books and reading magazines at your local library, rather than purchasing reading material, can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Transportation

  • Keep your car engine tuned and its tires inflated to their proper pressure. Doing both can save you up to $100 a year in gas.
  • Shop around for gas. Comparing prices at different stations and using the lowest-octane (recommended by the car owner's manual) can save you hundreds of dollars a year.
  • When driving, avoid fast start-ups and stops. Over time, you will save hundreds of dollars on lower gas and maintenance costs.
  • Take fewer cab rides. Using public transit instead of cabs can save you $5-10 per trip or more. If you're a frequent cab user, the savings could completely fund your emergency savings account.
  • Check all airlines for cheap fares. Since no website lists all discount carriers, also check out the websites of discount carriers like Southwest and Jet Blue, possibly saving you hundreds of dollars.

Housing

  • Choose home repair contractors wisely. Favor contractors who have successfully performed work for people you know. Insist on a written, fixed-price bid. Don't make full payment until satisfactory completion of the work.
  • Set your water heater to 120F. Several hours after resetting, check the water temperature with a thermometer, adjust if necessary.
  • Insulate your water heater with a blanket.
  • Purchase a water-saving showerhead, and take shorter showers.
  • Don’t leave the water running while brushing teeth.
  • Fix leaky faucets, which can waste gallons of water over time.
  • Turn off lights when you leave a room, turn them off if you don’t need the extra light.
  • Trade your standard candescent bulbs for compact florescent bulbs. They are more energy efficient, last for years instead of months, consume little power and generate little heat.
  • Turn off the radio, computer and TV when not in use.

Communications

  • Assess your communications costs. As Internet and wireless use grows, many consumers are overpaying for unneeded communications capacity. For example, if you have a cell phone and two phone lines one for your computer consider receiving personal calls on your cell phone so you can give up one of the phone lines.
  • Communicate by e-mail rather than by phone. If you're online, e-mail communications are virtually free. Even for subscribers, landline and wireless calls often carry per-minute charges.
  • Be aware of your cell phone costs and how to reduce them. Cell phone use has dramatically increased communications expenditures in many households. Understand peak calling periods, area coverage, roaming, and termination charges. Make sure your calling plan matches the pattern of calls you typically make.

Home Heating and Cooling

  • Ask your local electric or gas utility for a free or low-cost home energy audit. The audit may reveal inexpensive ways to reduce home heating and cooling costs by hundreds of dollars a year. Keep in mind that a payback period of less than three years, or even five years, will usually save you lots of money in the long-term.
  • Weatherproof your home. Caulk holes and cracks that let warm air escape in the winter and cold air escape in the summer.
  • Use window coverings to block or let in sunshine. In summer, use these coverings to block sunlight, keeping your house cool. In winter, open the coverings to let sunshine warm the house.
  • Dress appropriately for the season, even when indoors. Make your house temperature relative to the outdoor temperature.
  • Replace the filters in your heating and air condition units often.
  • If you have rooms in your home that rarely get used, either close the vents or purchase vent covers. There is no sense in heating or cooling a room that no one goes into.

Clothing

  • Look for sales at discount outlets.
  • Consider purchasing previously-used clothes from Goodwill, second-hand stores, or school or church thrift sales.
  • Assess clothing in terms of quality as well as price. An inexpensive shirt or coat is a poor bargain if it wears out in less than a year.
  • Clean clothes inexpensively. Wash and iron clothes yourself. If you use a cleaner, compare prices at different establishments. A 50 cent difference in cleaning a shirt, for example, can add up to $100 a year.
  • Wash clothing with warm or cold, not hot, water. Manufactures even make laundry detergents especially for cold water loads to help get clean clothes while using less energy.
  • Make sure you are washing a full load of clothes. If washing a smaller load, change the water level to conserve.
  • Hang clothes on a clothesline outside when it is sunny and warm. If you do use the dryer, clean the lint filter each time and make sure the vent hose is not clogged.
  • If your dryer has an automatic setting, use it instead of timed drying.

Family and Friends

  • Plan gift-giving well in advance. That will give you time to decide on the most thoughtful gifts, which usually are not the most expensive ones. And if these gifts are products that must be purchased, you will have the opportunity to look for sales.
  • In families, discuss limits on spending for gifts.
  • Socialize at pot-luck meals rather than at restaurants. Because one wants to be generous to friends and family, there may be huge cost savings here.

Sources: www.Aba.com, www.AmericaSaves.org

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