Stretch your Dollar - Saving Money the Smart Way In these uncertain times when people are increasingly being forced to dip into their long term savings to make ends meet, saving for the future has become more crucial than ever before. Effective household budgeting along with differentiating between needs and wants can go a long way in accumulating savings for retirement and emergencies. Here are some smart money saving tips to stretch your dollar to its maximum worth: Budget, budget, and budget - create a monthly budget for grocery, medicines, essential utilities like gas and other monthly bills. A practical idea is to take different envelopes and mark them for each of these expenditures. Based on past experience, you have a fair idea of how much you can expect to spend on a particular area so put a corresponding amount into each marked envelope. That’s the maximum amount you spend in that month on the said utility. Carry the envelope with you when you have to make a payment. This might take a few months to get right, but once you make a habit out of it, see the impromptu expenditure reduce vastly! Learn to differentiate between wants and needs – Be brutally honest with yourself; while that $25000 car maybe very desirable is it really something you cannot do without? If you can make do with an equally sturdy $15000 auto, this is probably a good time, not to stretch yourself financially for a set of wheels. Don’t shy signing up for freebies – Signing up for every reward program that you find, gives you more points for the same expenditure you would have incurred otherwise. Anything that compels you to spend/shop more isn’t worth bothering with. Only go with what gives you more value for money on your present expenditure. Look for deals on everything. Check free coupon sites to collect coupons you can redeem for bigger discounts on your regular expenditure on grocery, meals, clothes and utilities. Shop for money – look for lower rates of interest while applying for a credit and higher rates while investing. This may take some fine tuning, but with the internet at your disposal you have a lot of information at your finger tips. You just need patience and persistence. Spend time trying before buying – Right from toddler car seats to expensive mattresses, specialty gear and sport equipment. Borrow one to try for the right fit before buying, so that you don’t end up wasting money on something that “just doesn’t feel right”. Save on regular expenditure by making payments at one go – pay your insurance bills at one go for the entire year. Work towards getting the maximum discounts your home and auto insurance companies can give you. Safe car, good credit history, clean driving history, low mileage and safe driving certifications typically save you money, as does bundling home and auto insurance with the same insurance company. Sell, exchange, and share – Form a community in your neighborhood; organize garage sales or swap meets to get rid of what you do not need. Car pool as much as you can. Form a shopping group to buy regular household stuff in bulk from places like Costco at wholesale rates and divide up amongst your selves. Small actions in frugality go a long way in saving money. Make the most of your Employer/ Association tie-ups - This might be a very good time to check if your employer or association has a tie up with any companies for basic utilities and services like grocery, medicines, travel and dining, insurance etc. Organizations like AAA and AARP are good examples of collaborations between popular brands and communities to give value added products and services to their members. Plan everything before hand – while you save big money on airlines tickets when you book in advance, even something as small as a meal planned in advance can save you time and money. Every dollar saved is a dollar earned! Effective planning, budgeting and self control are some of the ways you can stretch your dollar to its maximum value; a step closer towards leading a comfortable present while accumulating for your future as well.
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