Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Five Budget Tips We All Can Use

Here are some budget tips to share especially in these tough economic times.

1. Don't spend any money for one day of the week. I bet you are saying to yourself, get real. But, I am living proof this can be done even if for one day. I recently went two days out of the week without spending any money. Pack your lunch, make coffee at home, checkout DVDs and CDs from your local library. The selections may not be extensive, but it's free.

2. Curb eating out and prepare meals at home. It's nice to treat yourself to a dinner out, but make it only one day out of the week, maybe the weekend for fun. Otherwise, plan to eat at home by preparing meals that can be leftovers the next day. For instance, bake some chicken and plan various meals around it. One night, pop in a frozen pizza with a salad on the side. The possibilities are endless and your wallet will love you for it.

3. Skip the mall and shop consignment stores. The deals are great and the items are generally in good shape. I found a pair of Ralph Lauren khaki slacks at a consignment store and paid $6.50. I can only imagine what they would have cost at the department store. Also, think about taking some of your clothes to consignment stores for extra money. I find that the most I get out of time at the mall is a good dose of walking exercise.

4. Start saving like wild each month. The amount will vary as your budget dictates, but now is the time to shore up your savings in case of layoff, illness, etc. I listened to the money experts when they would advise to have at least six months of savings for emergencies. I now think this should be eight to twelve months given how long it is taking people to find employment. If you have a credit union at work, start having the money taken directly from your paycheck so it comes out automatically. I think you will be surprised how much your savings will increase. Start Now!

5. Cut monthly expenses. Write down your monthly expenses including entertainment and determine what can be cut. For example, newspaper subscriptions, premium cable to basic, cheaper cell phone plans and internet service. I used the computers at my local library for a long time until I could afford the internet connection at home. This came with low end speed, but it's enough for now. All these extras can be added back as more income is coming in, but I bet they stay on the chopping block.

I hope these tips were helpful to you. Please let me know what you think and ways you save money.

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