Dollars & Sense

Saving big is all about the little details

Updated: 2013-04-02T14:41:53Z

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 ( 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

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

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

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