These days, many of us are finding ourselves having to stretch the ends until they meet.
And anything's possible. Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life lives on the $6,000 that her investments generate each year.
Here are some tips for stretching every dollar.
1. Save a penny, keep a penny.
Dump your pocket change into a jar each night. Invest it in a high-interest bearing account at the end of each month.
Woman's Day magazine recently suggested this money-saver, adding that if a couple puts just one dollar each into the jar every day, the sum will top $700 at the end of the year.
Invested at 10 percent interest over 10 years, that pocket change will grow into $12,000.
I have a friend who keeps her change in an empty Swiss Miss hot chocolate container. She calls it her "Swiss Bank Account," and it has already funded two family trips to Mexico.
2. Use your computer
You can save big money by shopping online, if you know where to look. Couponmountain.com (http://www.couponmountain.com) is a nicely organized database of online coupon codes.
You can also purchase an Entertainment Book for local purchases. I use mine all the time for groceries, oil changes, and dining out. (The coupon book features lots of 2-for-1 deals at local eateries). http://www.momscape.com/a/entertainment.htm
And here's a site that allows you to buy discounted gift certificates to local restaurants. For example, you can purchase a $50 gift certificate, in some cases, for $20. Print the certificate at home and use it for your own family's dining: http://www.momscape.com/a/restaurant.htm
3. Write letters.
Whether you love the product or hate it, write the manufacturer a letter. Customer service is key for companies these days and a company that receives a complaint is bound to make amends.
On the same token, many companies will acknowledge--and encourage--your satisfaction with coupons and discounts.
4. Shop smart.
Look at the grocery store ads before heading off to the store. Maybe you can reserve a few items for purchase at a nearby store that is offering unusual bargains.
5. Ban impulse buying.
Make it a family policy: if you see something you like, write it on a wish list and wait at least three days before buying.
6. Watch out for "nickel and dime" expenses.
Those little snacks and coffee stops can easily add up to more than $500 per year.
7. Shop around.
Research purchases on the internet. Before making a big online purchase, visit http://www.dealtime.com and http://www.mysimon.com.
8. Refinance your home.
Signing a few papers can save you big money on your mortgage payment. It's really not as big a hassle as you might think. Ask your friends and family for the name of a good mortgage broker.
9. Examine credit card use.
If you have credit card debt, make a promise to yourself to pay it off.
If you're paying credit card debt, you're paying not just 17 percent more for your purchases than you need to, you're also missing out on the money that the sum could earn for you if you had invested it.
Comparison shop cards online with http://creditcardmenu.com.
Or simply call your credit card company and let them know you have been offered a card with a lower rate. Then, ask if there is a way to decrease your rate.
One two-minute phone call recently reduced our rate by 4 percentage points. That was one call I wish I'd made a long time ago.
The most important thing is to recognize that you control your finances. Empower yourself with smart spending.
For Further Reading: Your Money or Your Life http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0140286780/momscape?tag=thrif06-20
Budget Living Magazine http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B00006BILS/momscape?tag=thrif06-20
About The Author:
Copyright 2004 Susie Michelle Cortright Susie Michelle Cortright is the founder of Momscape.com, a website devoted to helping busy women find balance, as well as the editor of Affordable Luxuries, a free weekly newsletter featuring online coupon codes and special offers for the web's most wonderful things. Visit http://www.momscape.com to subscribe.
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