Holding on to more of what we make is difficult for most of us. Sometimes it’s a matter of cutting out the little things that eat away at our budget. Sometimes it’s about spending
a little bit now in order to prevent bigger expenses later.
This week I’ve got five “little” ways to save that can make a huge impact on your finances.
1) Plan meals - The last thing you want to do is run by the grocery store every day,or worse, spend even more on dining out. With a meal plan in place, you can stick to your list and double your savings by eating leftovers. Not to mention, you’ll eliminate the late-afternoon stress of trying to decide what to make at the last minute. Here’s a great website I use (www.hy-vee.com/meal-solutions/30for3/) to plan lots of good meals for under $3.
2) Take your lunch – This is where my husband and I need to improve the most. This year, we developed several lunch ideas that are both healthier and more cost effective. Here’s one: a lunch swap with a few friends. You each make five containers of a meal. Get together on Sunday, swap lunches and take home a week’s worth of ready-to-go meals. This works for dinners too!
3) Give yourself an allowance – Let’s say the coffee shop is your daily vice. Instead of running through the drive-thru and handing them your debit card day after day, put a reasonable amount on a gift card. Use it until it’s gone. And then force yourself to wait until next month. This is an easy way to stay within your budget!
4) Avoid fees – Whether it’s a checking account overdraft, ATM fees, overdue library books, deliveries, or just any random fee that comes up — most are avoidable! Pennies make dollars, and dollars make hundreds.
5) Prevent catastrophes – Here’s where I tell you to spend a little money in order to save money over the long haul. At home: We’ve all been there — a sudden home repair (or several) pops up andleaves a massive hole in your budget. Sometimes these things are unavoidable. But you can decrease the likelihood. Housemaster http://www.housemaster.com/
estimates that homeowners should spend between one and three percent of their home’s value on annual maintenance and repairs.
In your car: This is another case where money spent on preventive maintenance amounts to only a fraction of what you’d spend on a major repair. Get the oil http://financialplan.about.com/cs/cars/a/101Car.htm
For your health: I’m a big believer in staying healthy, for my own good and myson’s good habits, but also because even minor unexpected medical bills can run
upwards of $1,000. Schedule a physical exam with your family physician every one to two years. And go to the dentist every six months — just like they’ve
always told us.
I’ve avoided every cliché in the book until now, but the little things really do add up. There’s a reason phrases turn into clichés: They usually ring true. Especially when it
comes to money.
Kat's Money Corner is posted on Dollars & Sense every Tuesday. Kat Hnatyshyn, whennot blogging or caring for her little one, is a manager with CommunityAmerica Credit
Union. For more financial chatter, click http://twitter.com/savinmavens.