Want to be more resourceful with your money? Making good financial choices is easy once you know how. If you've decided it's time to start beefing up your bank account, follow the tips below. Use a financial tracking tool to help calculate your savings Ñ you'll be surprised at how fast the smaller things add up.
Research by Ronnie Brooks and Cleo Hayes,
- Use e-mail. If you already pay for Internet access, use it! E-mail communication is a great way to cut long-distance phone charges.
- Pay bills online. The cost of a stamp may seem small, but postage adds up, as do late fees when you forget to pay bills on time. Consider signing up with a secure, automated online bill-paying system.
- Minimize banking fees. Open an account with a bank or credit union that doesn't charge service fees. Make your ATM withdrawals at free machines, or use a debit card instead of cash.
- Assess your insurance. Check annually for better premiums. Once you establish an emergency fund, increase your deductible on some insurance to reduce premiums further.
- Quit smoking. A pack-a-day habit can easily cost $1,400 a year. That's money that can go right into your bank account. Not to mention what you'll save on insurance and health care.
- Save on utilities. Consider turning down the heat or air conditioning at night and while you're at work.
- Analyze your phone needs. Do you really need more than one phone line? Use budget-tracking software to see what a difference dropping a line could make.
- Comparison shop. Don't cut corners with your favorite groceries Ñ you won't save for long if you feel deprived. But do compare. For example, generic products often have the same ingredients as brand names yet cost less.
- Buy in bulk. Pair up with a friend so items don't go to waste before you consume them.
- Think twice on clothes. Impulse is your budget's greatest enemy. Make a list of clothes you need and stick to it, or give yourself a monthly clothing allowance.
- Keep your car. Put off buying a car for a couple more years. If your car loan is paid off, continue transferring the amount of your monthly payments into a savings account for a new car. Use your financial software to schedule the purchase into your future budget.
- Be smart about entertainment. This is a big one. Think about using your local library to borrow books, music and movies. Eat out less often.
- Buy used. You can save $10,000 by buying a car that's just a few years old and investing the difference between the price of a new and used car.
- Slow down. Flooring the gas pedal is a waste of gas and money.
Banish instant gratification. Don't be tempted to put "bargains" on your credit card. Wait until you've saved enough cash for major purchases and save hundreds of dollars in fees and interest.
University of Memphis