Sunday, May 13, 2007

Top 10 Ways To Cut Spending

Do you run out of money before you run out of month? Do you wonder where your money goes each month? Do you struggle to find money to invest for retirement, emergencies and other financial goals? Here are 10 tips to cut your spending and stretch your dollar to the max:

1. Consider dropping your home telephone line. Your cell phone is probably all you really need, and most likely it has free long distance. You could save $30 or more per month by dropping your land line.

2. Cut back on trips to Starbucks or other premium coffee shops. Often called the latte factor, spending several dollars per day on luxuries like premium coffee can really add up. For example, if you spend $4 for a cappuccino five times a week for 50 weeks out of the year (youre on vacation the other two weeks), you would spend $1,000 in a year. Try treating your trip to Starbucks as a treat instead of a habit. Youll save money and probably lose weight too!

3. Pay your mortgage payment bi-weekly instead of monthly. Youll pay less interest and pay off your mortgage faster.

4. Carry cash instead of credit cards. Psychologically its harder to spend cash than it is to use the credit card. Youll spend less and save on interest charges.

5. Use the envelope system for groceries, dining out, entertainment, and other discretionary spending categories. This will help you track how much you spend in these categories as well as prioritizing your spending.

6. Raise the deductible on your homeowners and auto insurance policies. Its not wise to file claims for small losses anyway (insurance companies love to raise rates after you file a claim), so a higher deductible will save you money now and in the future.

7. Buy regular gas instead of premium. Most cars dont need premium gasoline. Also, take public transportation if its available in your area. Take advantage of park and ride and carpooling options.

8. Plan your purchases to avoid impulse buying. Take a list with you to the grocery store and stick with it. Studies show that impulse buying can add $10-50 to your grocery bill ouch!

9. Go to the library instead of the bookstore. If youre an avid reader, give yourself a book budget for books that you will want to keep, and go to the library for everything else.

10. Take a vacation at home. Check out all the local sites and happenings. Youll rediscover your hometown and save on travel and hotel costs.

These are just a handful of ways you can cut spending and stretch your dollars, but if you follow these tips youll discover you have more money at the end of each month to apply to other financial goals, such as saving for college, retirement or just for a rainy day.

About the Author: Kristine A. McKinley, CFP, CPA, and founder of Beacon Financial Advisors, teaches individuals and families how to invest and plan for retirement, college, and other financial goals. Kristine offers financial and tax planning on an hourly, fee-only basis. To sign up for free financial planning tips, worksheets, checklists and more, visit © 2006 Beacon Financial Advisors, LLC and Kristine A McKinley