Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Five ways to trim your budget

Being conscious of where your money goes these days is one of the most critical things you can do to protect your future and your financial well-being. All too often, you hear about families barely living within their means, much less feeling successful  with their current income. Living within a budget isn’t easy, particularly if your bills are high and income low, but it is important. That being said, there are creative ways that you can live within your means and trim your budget so that you can get started on the road to financial success. Any one of these five tips will help, but employing all five can save you hundreds of dollars every month!

Picnic rather than eat at a restaurant - The average ticket at any restaurant can hit $50 quickly, particularly for a family of four, and adding a drink or two to the bill can cause the bottom line to skyrocket. Instead of taking in a noisy restaurant for your next afternoon out, pick up some snacks and sandwiches, perhaps a salad and fruit, and a nice small block of imported cheese, then head out to your local park. You’ll not only save a few dollars on your meal out, but you’ll also get to enjoy the fresh air, rather than listening to that guy at the next table’s disgusting eating habits and obnoxious opinions about everything under the sun!

Coast along in the car - Ever hear of hypermiling? Learning a few of these tips can go a long way to saving you money at the gas pump. Aggressive driving is the single best way to get the absolute worst gas mileage out of your car, so to begin with, learn to relax a little when you’re behind the wheel! Try leaving fifteen minutes earlier than you usually do so that you won’t feel hurried, and avoid quick starts and rushing up to stoplights. Tailgating and speeding are also big-time fuel wasters, so avoid them both at all costs. You may be surprised to learn that many hypermilers (the hobby of hypermiling) can get better than 30 miles per gallon in almost any vehicle this side of a Sherman Tank! 

Clip Coupons - Grocery shopping eats up what might be the biggest chunk of most household budgets, excepting for mortgage or rent expense. It isn’t too difficult, though, to trim your groceries down by clipping coupons and avoiding excessive grocery waste. First off, remember the basics of grocery shopping - never shop on an empty stomach, always work the aisles from a grocery list, and always use coupons and pay attention to store specials whenever possible. Sometimes, you can double up on specials and coupons, and really make out like a bandit!

Make your own coffee - Can you imagine spending $150 on coffee? While such extravagance might seem like the sort of once - in - a - lifetime indulgence that could truly delight the palate, it’s actually that $5 per day habit that can run you $150 or more per month! Instead, opt to keep a french press and a bag of high-quality coffee at your desk or at home for single servings. It’s cheaper to brew, and you’ll always know you’ll get your coffee exactly the way you want it!

Put on a sweater - Turning down your thermostat might be the sort of thing that you picture your parents harping on you about, but they have a point. Regardless of where you live in the country, or the world for that matter, you can significantly reduce your electric bill simply by turning down the heat and putting on a sweater. Sure, you can further save money by insulating your home better or installing more efficient heaters, but at the end of the day, a nice cozy sweater might just be the best and cheapest way going to get that monthly bill under control!

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