Never really thought about it. A dinner out. A new pair of shoes. Another new pair of shoes to wear to another dinner out. Before the child, the house, the economy, etc., spending money was something I just…did. No, I wasn’t a freak about it. I took at least two trips around the store before I decided if I really wanted that pair of jeans. And yes, I saved, sure. But I didn’t really “budget.”
Now that life has changed (enter child, house and economy here), money matters more than it ever has. Here are a few tips financial expert Galia Gichon gave me to help me find the road to riches (or at least to not be so strapped for cash). Her My Money Matters boxed set offers fun affirmations, quick tips and easy workbooks (it’s also been featured in Newsweek and on the TODAY show).
Figure Out Finances
• Make a “Money Day.” Pick one day of the week to take care of and organize your regular financial commitments. On this day: pay outstanding any bills from the week, go to the ATM, update your personal finance software, transfer money to your savings account (or investment accounts), and check your bank accounts balance.
• Keep receipts for every purchase made during the week and put them into an envelope. You’ll become more conscious of your spending.
• Know the key numbers when saving for your child’s college education. It’ll help decide if you should save for private or public university. Find out what you should be saving using this easy-to-use online calculator.
• Create a new will and have life insurance for both parents if you just had a new addition to the family.
Ways to Save
• Pay extra on your mortgage. Add $50 or 100 to each payment, and you won’t even notice it. It’ll shave years off your interest paid.
• Stop paying for cable TV or DVR. Check out Hulu.com and watch your favorite TV shows for free.
• Do a checkup on your finances every six months. Get rid of landlines, check out new texting plans, combine cell phones with a family member, get more rollover minutes, etc..
• Combine homeowners and car insurances for a discount.
• Examine your warranties and insurance. For example, do you have cell phone insurance? Are you paying extra for car or home repair warranties that you aren’t using? Check out quarterly bills and automatic payments on your credit cards. You probably don’t even notice the extra or automatic expenses you are paying.
• Use a simple surge protector with an on/off switch. Plug your TV, DVD player, and whatever else you can into it. Turn it off when you’re not using it to save money and the environment.
• Check your bills. Gas companies have a range of service fees and your charges may not be the lowest one.
• Don’t buy everything in bulk. It’ll save you money on prescription drugs, milk, eggs, butter, gas, wine, beer, liquor and toilet paper. Everything else has huge profit margins that won’t save you that much. Plus they’re counting on your impulse purchases!
• Start using cash only. Don’t go back to the ATM until that week is over. It’ll make you conscious of your spending. Whatever you buy, you must have really valued. I guarantee if you had paid with a credit card, you wouldn’t have thought twice about the purchase and might have bought something you couldn’t afford.
• Pick friends with good money habits. Stop spending so much time with girlfriends who shop too much or go to the trendiest restaurants. You can always meet them after they’ve shopped of a bit or after dinner for dessert or a drink.
Do you have any budgeting tips? How do you keep your household’s finances inline? Leave a comment and let me know!