Thursday, March 12, 2009

5 ways to significant savings

Here are some simple and reasonable suggestions for saving money. They do not take any major changes in the way you live or spend, but they are methods of savings that will, in some cases, dramatically affect the way you view your expenditures. Recent news reports indicate that Americans are saving more for the first time in years. If you aren't one of those whose savings have increased, maybe you could try some or all of the following:

1. Pay off existing debt and avoid interest payments.

One of the first ways to save significant amounts of money is to stop using credit and start moving towards paying off high interest loans. Begin by identifying the actual rate of interest you are paying on any credit balances. You are in real danger if you are paying only the minimum due on credit cards or other revolving credit obligations. Start by paying more than the minimum on the debt with the highest interest. Even a small payment in excess of the accumulated interest will start to have an effect. When one obligation is paid, take the money that went to that payment and apply it, plus the regular payment, on the next higher interest rate obligation. Although this method starts slowly, as payments accumulate, the debts will get paid faster and faster.

Once you have paid off high interest obligations. Do not use those credit cards again. Cut them up.

2. Substitute lower priced store bought items.

Many times brand name merchandise is no better quality or usefulness than the generics. But beware of generics that actually cost more than the name brand! Use the cost comparison labels in the supermarkets and try not to purchase items on a whim or spur of the moment. Plan all your purchases.

3. Plan shopping and activities to conserve fuel.

It is amazing how much time and money you can spend on short shopping or activity trips. Many the children don't need five extra curricular classes a week. Maybe, by making lists and keeping track of purchases, you can go to the store only once a week, rather than daily. Use your networking skills to carpool, even though gas prices have come down from historically high levels, there is still room to make significant savings through driving less.

4. Lower your thermostat.

High fuel costs do not just affect driving costs. Home heating and cooling costs can be one of the most significant expenses for a family. Lowering your thermostat in winter and raising it in the summer can have a dramatic impact on the cost of heating and cooling. Wear a sweater, rather than heat the house. Use the outside temperature to your advantage by opening and closing windows. Spend a little time analyzing your window coverings and shade possibilities. Spend more time outside.

5. Take advantage of sales.

The Internet has given all of us the ability to shop for values on items we need. But it has also made a available the ability to purchase items we would never have purchased. Be aware of the actual cost of items. I have seen items marked for sale, some of which were really higher priced than the "regular" cost. It may be necessary to monitor the price of an item over a period of time to see if a "sale" is nothing more than the usual seasonal variation in prices.

The amount that can be saved by being aware of your spending habits and taking charge of your spending can be significant.

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