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By: Stuart Wood
1. Use A Budget

You won't know where your money is going and what kind of financial situation you are in if you don't have a budget, or spending plan, to track your spending habits. Write down how much you bring home and then, beneath it, start to subtract what you spend the money on. You might be surprised at what you learn from this simple exercise.

2. Consolidate Debt

If you are an average American, you have some debt. If you have a lot of high interest credit card debt, you should consider taking out a loan from your local bank to pay if all off, and then work at paying off the bank loan which will have a much lower interest rate.

3. Don't Add New Debt

Aim to pay cash or use a debit card from now on. You won't be paying interest for that video game you bought six months ago if you use cash or debit cards. Also, you tend to spend less when you see the money in your wallet vanishing.

4. Create An Emergency Fund

Provide some insurance against emergencies by stashing away a small emergency fund which you only dip into when a true emergency happens--your car breaks down, your son breaks his arm, or other such situations that cannot be planned for. For most people $500-$1000 is sufficient.

5. Raise Insurance Deductibles

To help fund your emergency fund, take the money you save from raising your car or health insurance deductible. If you have $1000 sitting aside for emergencies, upping your deductible from $250 to $500 is no big deal.

6. Carpool

If you live near coworkers or within walking distance of your office, leave your car at home. For those who don't have this option, make sure you combine as many stops as you can into your outing so save on gas and time.

7. Unplug Appliances

Even on standby mode appliances use electricity. Use a power strip for your computer or entertainment center areas and then unplug them at night of when out of the house.

8. Consider Downsizing

It may be possible for you to save considerably by moving to a place with a lower rent or mortgage. If this isn't for you, think about taking in a roommate or renting out a spare room. Or making some quick cash by having a garage sale.

9. Learn to Negotiate

Many things, from Internet to food at the farmers market, can be negotiated. Spend time practicing and then call up your phone carrier to see how much you can cut your bill.

10. Don't Be Brand Loyal

If you can get a cheaper rate by switching cable providers, change. This also goes for foods, cleaning and personal care products.

11. Shop On line

Many retailers offer better discounts on-line plus free shipping. Shop through a cash back site to get even more for your money.

12. Do It Yourself

Try doing minor repairs yourself to avoid high repair fees. Change your own oil, unclog the toilet and cut the grass by yourself. Also preform regular maintenance to avoid repairs.


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