Wednesday, April 9, 2008




Saving money is an ongoing challenge for most people. Paychecks, dividends, and an occasional bonus go only so far. Therefore, it's worthwhile to develop some money-saving strategies, such as the 10 listed below.
1. Track spending and evaluate results. By tracking your spending habits, you'll get an idea of where you spend your money. By evaluating the results, you can see if you're using money for things that aren't really necessary. For example, do your monthly membership fees go to a gym you never have time to visit? Do you buy coffee every morning when it's available in your office for free? Look at all the places where you can save money; even small outlays can add up.

2. Pay yourself first. This idea is certainly not new, but it's a strategy that starts a consistent savings program. Unless your entire paycheck is earmarked for monthly bills and necessities, you should be able to put money into savings every month. If you get a raise, add that money to what you're putting aside.

3. Company savings plans. Many companies offer 401(k) plans. Take advantage of them. If one isn't available, open an IRA. Use direct deposit for these retirement savings accounts so you're not tempted to spend the money elsewhere.

4. Forget the plastic. Limit yourself to one or two credit cards with the best rates, and use them for only major purchases or emergencies. Also, pay off your credit card balances monthly.

5. Learn how to shop. The Internet provides a very easy way to compare prices. Look for lower prices, discounts, sales, and coupons. Check out price comparison Web sites, such as,, and Avoid paying surcharges, late fees, and other fees for convenience. Shop from lists rather than browsing the aisles, and establish a firm "no impulse buy" policy.

6. Look to save on your home. Look for lower mortgage rates and refinance. Also, while paying off your home mortgage each month, round up. You can pay off the loan a little faster, and save a surprisingly high amount of the interest over time.

7. Save on utilities. Review the offers from competing phone and electric companies. Look for energy-saving appliances, and save some money by opening windows when it's warm, and using a second blanket when it's cold.

8. Be car smart. Find a mechanic you can trust before paying big bucks for unnecessary repairs. Don't buy a second or third car that will hardly be used or will sit at the train station. Look for lower gas prices in your neighborhood, and keep your engine tuned, trunk uncluttered, and tires properly inflated to save on gas.

9. Get everyone onboard. Discuss ways of saving money and establishing good spending habits with everyone in your household.

10. Read the fine print. Review your bills carefully, including your credit card statements. Errors in billing cost customers millions of dollars each year. Also, in this new age of warranties included with every major purchase, read the fine print carefully, and buy only what will be valuable for those products most likely to need service.

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