Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Spare Change Wisdom Wednesday

One of the pillars of our mission statement relates to empowerment and another establishes our commitment to continuously offering pertinent information that can enrich your life. I've posted several items in regards to what I've learned to be topic #1 for myself: Mo Money, Mo, Money! Now, I'm sure that there are some of you who will say, "how shallow or is he all about consumerism?" Well, the answer is a sound, "no.," but I am about finding ways to survive in these uncertain economic times. Not to mention going toe to toe with my self in creating wealth, saving for my golden years and being self sustaining. It' no secret that ultimately you, yes you, are going have to be responsible for number one. That's you buddy! With all that said, I've decided to start offering weekly tips and tidbits about pocketbook issues that hopefully with jar your thought process into action. Remember, it's about the Benjamin's to hold them and how to fold them during this rough and tumble period.

CorneliusOnpoint's Spare Change Wisdom

#1 Squirrel Away Your Money, Then Invest It
Check out the local banks and compare interest rates and fees on savings accounts. When you find the best one for you, open the account and make a plan to tuck away your savings throughout the year. Keep track of how much money you save and add that money into your account. Not only do you start saving money with interest, but with better returns, you may be more inspired to carefully track your spending each day. As soon as you’ve got enough tucked away for emergencies, move the money to an investment account, where your funds can grow at a healthier pace. A bonus tip: set up a Pay Pal account that allows you to roll some of your added dollars from your low interest checking account to it's money market account for a great saving tool. Set it, fund it and then forget it!
#2 Clip Coupons/Use Grocery Rewards
Take some time each Sunday to go through the newspaper for coupon savings on the items you use. I usually even clip those that I might not even use for future possibilities. You never know when you may need that extra jar of something for that special recipe. Keep the coupons orderly and accessible in a coupon holder that should be kept in your purse or car so you will never forget to take them to the store. Check out these more detailed tips for saving with coupons!
You can also ask to sign up for a rewards card at a store’s customer service counter. I'm never without my trusty Kroger card, which I also use for additional savings on fill-ups in the tank. Many will have a card you can clip to your keys so you’ll always have it with you. Once you’re able to start using your rewards cards on a regular basis, perform this small task after each shopping trip: note your savings amount, usually totaled on your receipt, and make a deposit equivalent to that amount into your savings account, even if it’s small. This is a simple method for “paying yourself first“.
#3 Check Return Policies on Unused Merchandise
More often than not, consumers will have a few items lying around the house that they’ve never used. Take a look at some of the things you’ve bought and accumulated in the past year and reflect on how much use you’ve gotten out of them. Would you agree that it’s a fairly common occurrence for us to purchase stuff that just falls off our radar a bit too soon? If it turns out that you’re unable to get any mileage over some of your purchases, then think about returning them from whence they came. Why not? It doesn’t hurt to try! However, I'm not advocating that you go buy an item, then wear it or use it, then take it back under the circumstances that you didn't need it. This move lacks class if you ask me. I've known a few of you who have done this number one time too many. Shame on you!
Depending on the store, you may or may not need a receipt to return the items for cash back.Yet most require it these days. At the very least, many stores will still offer an in-store credit, which is better than nothing. Plus, you will be reducing the clutter in your home and will be adding cash to your savings account.
#4 Sell and Donate Those Unused or Unneeded Items
Ready for another way to continue your steady march towards saving a thousand dollars? Well since we’re on the subject of unused “clutter” anyway, here’s a corollary to the previous tip: make some extra money by selling off or donating your used goods. I’ve had a lot of luck putting up items for sale on eBay. I had a cute little enterprise going before I knew it and believe me it does work if you put your mind too it. Ultimately, I easily cleared at least $1000 last year by selling off some of my “clutter” (those drag fashions that needed to find new homes and uses were my best sellers!). Check here for more ideas on how to unload your used items for cash.
For our used items that don’t sell, I donate them to charitable organizations and am able to take tax deductions for them. Here’s a handy tool that helps estimate the amounts you can claim as tax deductions for anything you give away.
#5 Dine Out at a Discount
I’ve come across a lot of money-saving advice that suggests that the easiest way to save a bundle is to eat at home every night. While that may be true, your family can still enjoy some quality time out and still not break the bank. I use this method often and I'm not shame about using these valuable money savers. Check often for area restaurants offer coupons and specials advertised weekly in the local paper or on their websites. If you know you are planning a family night out or a "cheap date," keep an eye out for discount coupons from the paper and don’t be afraid to use them. Also, when your waitress seats you, ask about any other special deals that may not have been advertised, and make a point to find out about any other deals offered on a different day of the week so you can plan a family night out on that day to save the most on your meals.
#6 Visit Your Local Library
If you’re an avid reader, then keeping that fresh supply of novels and materials to read can get expensive pretty quickly. Local libraries will often carry the same books and materials, but you won’t have to pay a fortune to read them. Some libraries may charge a small fee for brand new releases but $.50 is a lot cheaper than the price of a current hard back novel. Many libraries often rent out DVD’s as well for additional free family entertainment. I owe a debt of gratitude to the local library which allowed me to jump the digital divide with it's FREE computer access. Boy, look how far I've come since then!
#7 Revisit Your Current Bills and Expenses
Many people pay their monthly bills without question. It’s easy to fall into a payment routine without taking the time to reevaluate the cost of things like utilities, car insurance and bank fees. But by evaluating your bills and policies regularly, and by checking out alternatives and options to those services and goods that you use, you can really save a nice chunk of change — especially if you current service provider wants to keep your business. By checking in on them once in a while, you may find that they can actually offer you special rates and deals you may not normally hear about.
It’s easy to ignore those cost saving updates we receive via mail from our current service providers; too often, we assign these offers to the junk pile. But don’t be too hasty. An example of where you can easily slash costs by making a simple change? Your phone bill by getting rid of that land line if you are a cellular baby. Simply call your phone company and tell em see ya! In the meantime, make sure that this options is viable for you and that you are getting the best rate. Alltels new circle of friends promo has been a life saver while I'm reaching out and touching.
#8 Cancel Subscriptions and Memberships
Along with the routine of paying bills, many people don’t take the time to consider their other money wasters such as unused memberships to the gym, unread magazines, and other monthly fees that are insidiously draining their bank accounts.
I, for one, have been surprised by how much money I’ve saved just by canceling subscriptions and memberships I haven’t cared for in a while. Our household used to receive a countless number of financial, entertainment and news publications — a guilty habit for us — but as part of our savings campaign, we’ve cut down on the paper clutter quite heavily in recent months. The costs of such subscriptions truly added up to a good amount: at least half a grand over the span of a year! Let's not forget the damage to environment!
So have you been paying close attention to what’s being automatically deducted from your bank account each month? On this note, if you’ve decided to halt your subscriptions or memberships, do beware of cancellation fees that may be incurred in the process. Also make sure that you have documentation and confirmation of your cancellation orders. If you’ve canceled an automatic payment schedule, keep an eye on your account to ensure that no additional money is being deducted following your cancellation request. A bonus tip: I used an online survey source as a means to gather "E-dollars" for great subscriptions to some of my favorite mags!

By being a little bit more conscious about how you spend your money and by being a bit more aware of how you may save or add to your funds, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much your savings can easily add up given some time. And that thousand bucks is just the start!

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