cutting expenses http://www.wisebread.com/taxonomy/term/8060/all en-US 10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/man_looking_at_bills.jpg" alt="Man looking at the mail" title="Man looking at the mail" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="151" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Bills! Bills! Bills! Sometimes it seems as if everyone&rsquo;s got their fingers in the pie when it comes to your hard-earned money. Electric bills, water bills, cable, cell phone bills, doctor&rsquo;s visits &mdash; the cost-of-living expenses never seem to end. However, if you&rsquo;re smart about it, you can work the system and save some money on these so-called necessary expenses. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year">6 Tips to Shrink Your Bills Every&nbsp;Year</a>)</p> <h2>1. Cell Phone Plans</h2> <p>Do you really need that $80-a-month smartphone plan with unlimited data? Unless you work in social media or your smartphone is essential for your job (in which case, consider asking your company to provide a cell phone plan or look into writing it off on your taxes if you&rsquo;re self-employed), most people don&rsquo;t need a smartphone. I&rsquo;ve lost track of the number of people I&rsquo;ve heard complaining about the abysmal state of their finances and all the debt they have yet to pay off, and yet they are still paying for two iPhone plans per household. What if you saved yourself $40 a month and put that money towards paying down your debt? Consider a far less expensive family plan where calls between family phones are free. You may even be able to share with family members even if you don&rsquo;t live in the same household.</p> <h2>2. Internet</h2> <p>If the extent of your Internet usage is surfing the Internet, streaming Netflix movies, and sending emails, look into your Internet plan to see if you really need super-high-speed Internet. Your internet service provider might have a lower-speed plan that is sufficient for your needs but may save you $20 a month or more. Even one of the slower Internet speeds may be more than enough to stream movies and music &mdash; you may want to give it a try.&nbsp;</p> <p>By the way, if you were getting an introductory deal on your Internet that is expiring, call your provider and suggest (politely) that you want to cancel your service unless they can offer you a better price. You never know, they might extend the deal for you or slash a few bucks off your monthly bill.</p> <h2>3. Landline Phones</h2> <p>If you have a good cell phone plan, consider canceling your landline service. Alternatively, look into one of the Internet-based phone systems like Costco&rsquo;s Ooma system, Vonage, or Magic Jack. These VoIP phone systems feel just like landlines, have 911 support, offer inexpensive long-distance calls, and often cost just a few bucks a month (though there may be an upfront cost for the hardware). Personally, I use Google Voice, which is free (but doesn&rsquo;t offer 911 support), which I have connected via my router to a phone in my home &mdash; it works just like a landline and doesn&rsquo;t cost a penny.</p> <h2>4. Cable TV</h2> <p>I don&rsquo;t have cable TV, and I don&rsquo;t miss it.&nbsp; I can stream almost everything I want to watch through Internet sites like Hulu and Netflix, from sports to my favorite TV shows. If you must have TV, consider switching to basic cable and bundling your TV service with your Internet and phone services for a better deal.</p> <h2>5. Energy Bills</h2> <p>You can make significant savings in your energy bills by being more energy-efficient in your home. Your water heater and furnace are probably the biggest energy guzzlers. Insulate your water heater and turn down the house thermostat by a couple of degrees. Do laundry using cold water &mdash; your clothes will last longer, and you&rsquo;ll save energy. If you&rsquo;re buying a new appliance, look for the Energy Star logo, and see if you can get a rebate from your local water or electric company for getting a more efficient appliance. Oh, and your city may even pay you to let them cart away your old cruddy fridge, too (or you could sell it on Craigslist).</p> <h2>6. Doctor&rsquo;s Bills</h2> <p>If you have health insurance and you receive a bill from a medical provider, don&rsquo;t just blindly send a check. They may have neglected to bill your insurance or sent you a bill &ldquo;by accident.&rdquo; For instance, I received a bill from the California Prenatal Screening Program &mdash; they assumed I didn&rsquo;t have health insurance until I provided proof, even though I was tested through my doctor&rsquo;s office (which has my insurance information). Be sure you know how much your co-pays should be according to your insurance plan, and when in doubt, call to clear up any misunderstanding.&nbsp;</p> <p>By the way, going to your routine check-ups at your doctor or dentist is an important way to maintain your health and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-things-you-do-to-save-money-that-end-up-costing-you-more">avoid bigger expenses in the long run</a>. You don&rsquo;t want an unfilled cavity to turn into a root canal, which means more pain and more money.</p> <h2>7. Coffee</h2> <p>If you spend $3.50 on a latte every day, that adds up to $1277.50 a year. At those prices, you could have an espresso machine at home and still save money! Save the coffee shop for special occasions, or limit yourself to once a week. Meanwhile, invest in a good-quality coffee maker at home for your morning java fix.</p> <h2>8. Groceries</h2> <p>The grocery bill is a significant chunk of your income every month. I&rsquo;ll be the first to admit that I am not as diligent at finding bargains as I&rsquo;d like. This year, my resolution is to clip coupons, look for deals, and to shrink my grocery budget by 20%. My first step is to create a coupon folder in which to store coupons so that I can find them when I need them.</p> <p>There are other things you can try too. Buy less meat and eat more vegetables; both your body and your wallet will thank you. Try growing, canning, and pickling your own produce. Cook from scratch instead of buying pre-seasoned or prepackaged foods. Buy generic brands.</p> <h2>9. Household Necessities</h2> <p>Almost anything can be cleaned up with baking soda and vinegar, which are cheap and natural alternatives to pricier commercial cleaners. Good for tasks including scrubbing baked-on food off dishes, cleaning the oven, washing windows, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/naturally-get-rid-of-ants-in-your-kitchen">fending off ants</a>, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-clean-silver-naturally">cleaning silver</a>, and brightening laundry, these two basics will have you pretty much set. As for other household necessities such as paper towels, over-the-counter medicines, trash bags, and toilet paper, opt for the generic brand and/or buy in bulk.</p> <h2>10. Credit Cards</h2> <p>Not everyone can handle having a credit card.&nbsp; If you can, be sure to pay off your balance every month to avoid being charged interest. If you&rsquo;re the forgetful type, consider setting up automatic payments through your bank (just be sure you have enough money in your account to pay your bill, or you&rsquo;ll be charged by your bank too). Don&rsquo;t get a credit card that you have to pay a yearly premium for &mdash; there are lots of free options that offer cash back, points, or other bonuses. By the way, if your credit card offers cash back, you may have to claim your cash back bonus in the mail. Be sure to do that to avoid losing the money you&rsquo;ve earned. If you can handle the temptation of having that plastic card in your pocket, credit cards can work in your favor and actually earn you money.</p> <p>In general, setting up automatic payment for all of your bills is a good idea, as long as you're sure you'll have the money in your account. You'll save on postage and avoid late fees if you forget to pay a bill. Also, some of your bills may be payable by credit card. If you pay your bills by credit card, and set your credit card to be paid off in full automatically, you can earn cash back on your bills too.</p> <p><em>How do you keep your expenses down every month?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/camilla-cheung">Camilla Cheung</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-1"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/7-easy-ways-to-lower-winter-energy-costs">7 Easy Ways to Lower Winter Energy Costs</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-easy-ways-to-lower-your-electric-bill">15 Easy Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year">6 Tips to Shrink Your Bills Every Year</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">7 Monthly Expenses We Don&#039;t Realize We Don&#039;t Need</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Home cutting expenses lower bills monthly bills Fri, 06 Jan 2012 11:24:18 +0000 Camilla Cheung 855712 at http://www.wisebread.com 10 Business Owners Share Tips for Saving Money http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/10-business-owners-share-tips-for-saving-money <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.theopenappcenter.com/save-money/10-business-owners-share-tips-saving-money/?intlink=us-iefuel-hpcontentarticletipssavemoney" target="_blank">http://www.theopenappcenter.com/save-money/10-business-owners-share-tips-saving-...</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/10-business-owners-share-tips-for-saving-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_Business_Savings_3962124.jpg" alt="woman holding piggy bank" title="woman holding piggy bank" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="167" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Cutting costs and saving money are always on the minds of business owners and entrepreneurs. While it may seem like there is only so much you can do to trim your spending, the following opportunities for saving money come straight from the trenches.</p> <p><strong>Money-Saving Mentality</strong></p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;ve worked hard to develop a culture of monitoring, discussing and exploring new ways to make our finances do the most for us in terms of driving strategic and tactical needs,&rdquo; said Tony Lael, co-founder of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.coreconnex.com/">Corelytics</a>. &ldquo;It all starts with asking the easy questions: Is there another, more creative way to be doing this that is more cost effective? Is this cost driving a strategic mission to help us hit tactical priorities? Everything goes through that filter first and it all starts at the top with company management.&rdquo;</p> <p><strong>Labor Costs and Productivity</strong></p> <p>Regardless of industry, labor costs are the first or second largest expense incurred by almost all companies. Are you getting as much as you can from the money you spend on payroll? The owner of an engineering and consulting business was able to reduce overtime while still getting projects done on time.</p> <p>&quot;We found several of our employees were working extra hours to make extra money,&quot; she said. &quot;They didn't think the company cared because there was always work to be done. So, we made sure employees knew that all overtime had to be approved in advance and reinforced with managers the need to only approve overtime when absolutely necessary.&quot; Her business has reduced overtime to almost nothing in a matter of weeks.</p> <p>&quot;Holding employees responsible for call-backs to resolve poor craftsmanship has saved a lot of money,&quot; according to Tyler Hawkins, owner and president of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.xavierpaint.com/">Xavier Paint Contracting</a>. &quot;Our foremen are now more inclined to finish the job correctly the first time.&quot;</p> <p>Alan Davis, president of <a target="_blank" href="http://i5services.com/">i5Services</a>, has had success hiring younger, less-expensive employees. &quot;There are very talented, skilled young people that can be found for lower salaries. The trick is to balance them with senior talent that can properly manage and train them.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Office Space</strong></p> <p>Scaling back or even eliminating a physical office is one of the common tips for saving money from the cost-cutting business owners interviewed.</p> <p>Cary Snowden, president of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.squarecompass.com/">Square Compass</a>, decided to try a virtual/home office test case for three months. &quot;Our three-month experiment turned into a six-month experiment, then a year. We are now three years into a virtual office scenario and have saved a minimum of $42,000 dollars.&quot;</p> <p>Office sharing is another common trend employed to cut rent/lease expenses. Randy Chipman, who owns <a target="_blank" href="http://customsecurityandsound.com/">Custom Security and Sound</a>, located his office in a building that was half empty. &quot;I'm on a month-to-month arrangement in a building with excess space,&quot; Chipman said. &quot;I have a private, furnished office with access to phone, fax, copier, internet and utilities all included.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Vendor Relationships</strong></p> <p>One business owner approached his vendors with what he could afford to pay. &quot;Most accepted the reduced prices and extended payment terms to help us through a tough time,&quot; he said. Melinda Emerson has saved a lot of money on shipping. &quot;I think we often default to more popular shipping companies when a click-and-ship account with USPS works just fine and costs less in many cases,&quot; she said.</p> <p>Anita Campbell, CEO of <a target="_blank" href="http://smallbiztrends.com/">SmallBizTrends.com</a>, finds she can save a lot of money in her business by training her employees to take ownership of software development time. When someone on Anita's team finds a bug or problem, she teaches them to &quot;&hellip; first investigate and troubleshoot on their own, in case it turns out to be a simple issue they can resolve. If it's not, then they are required to gather as much information as possible and lay it out in writing clearly with screenshots if necessary to explain it. This saves expensive developer time, which can cost three-figures per hour.&quot;</p> <p>Trading services can be a very comfortable way to save cash flow. Bill Attinger, CEO of <a href="http://www.actseed.com/blogs/">ActSeed</a>, has found success bartering, &ldquo;&hellip; some cross-marketing services with a number of other companies, which has enabled us to keep our marketing and advertising budget in check while still gaining traction in our visibility.&rdquo; By focusing on these reciprocal promotions with other organizations that catered to the same target audience, Bill has helped his company save money on what would otherwise have been an expensive PR initiative.</p> <p><strong>Taxes</strong></p> <p>One business owner discovered after 10 years she had the wrong CPA doing her taxes. &quot;I've learned there is a big difference in CPAs after thinking they were all created equal,&quot; she said. &quot;Those who are well versed on tax law changes, legal case histories and what is being challenged in courts and the outcomes are in a position to offer the business owner very creative tax strategies for consideration, which can lead to some significant cost savings for our business this year.&quot;</p> <p><strong>Money-Saving Goals</strong></p> <p>What does your business really need to accomplish the goals and objectives you have for it? Once you know what your business needs, find the most cost-efficient way to fill those needs. An honest assessment of these questions will empower business owners everywhere, regardless of industry and size, to spend only what is necessary. Undoubtedly this will not only give your business its best chance to survive, but it will instill in you and your team the cost-saving attributes upon which great companies are built.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blurb-amex"> <div class="field-label">AMEX Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This article originally appeared on the</p> <p><a href="http://www.theopenappcenter.com/save-money/10-business-owners-share-tips-saving-money/?intlink=us-iefuel-hpcontentarticletipssavemoney">OPEN App Center</a></p> <p>. Visit</p> <p><a href="http://www.theopenappcenter.com">www.theopenappcenter.com</a></p> <p>for more information and resources for streamlining and growing your business.</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ken-kaufman">Ken Kaufman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/10-business-owners-share-tips-for-saving-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-2"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-small-business-mentors-you-can-access-for-nearly-free">6 Small Business Mentors You Can Access for Nearly Free!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-ways-to-fund-your-business-without-touching-savings">3 Ways to Fund Your Business Without Touching Savings</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-inspiring-stories-of-normal-people-building-a-thriving-online-store">4 Inspiring Stories of Normal People Building a Thriving Online Store</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-find-freelance-clients-part-two">How to Find Freelance Clients: Part Two</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center business advice business savings cutting expenses small business Mon, 21 Nov 2011 18:46:52 +0000 Ken Kaufman 790886 at http://www.wisebread.com 4 Ways To Reduce Business Travel Expenses http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-ways-to-reduce-business-travel-expenses <div class="field field-type-link field-field-url"> <div class="field-label">Link:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="http://www.openforum.com/" target="_blank">http://www.openforum.com/</a> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/small-business/4-ways-to-reduce-business-travel-expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000013023442Small.jpg" alt="man on a plane" title="man on a plane" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>After payroll, travel expenses are the second most controllable business expense. Learn to reduce business travel expenses, and you can save your company money and increase the bottom line.</p> <h3>Travel Selectively</h3> <p>One of the easiest ways to reduce business travel expenses is not to incur them. Thanks to videoconferencing or other Web-based technologies, you may find it possible to meet with prospects and business associates without having to travel.</p> <p>But still, travel is an inevitable need for most businesses at some time or another. When it is a necessity, explore your options. Look for travel discounts and skip the luxuries. Would you (or your employees) be willing to drive instead of fly? Can you schedule trips during the off-season for additional savings?</p> <p>And, see if you can strategize travel plans to hit several locations in the most cost-effective and time-saving way. It may make sense, for example, to combine what could have been two or three separate trips into one, hopping from location to location.</p> <h3>Make Your Own Travel Arrangements</h3> <p>There are many online options to help you make inexpensive travel arrangements, from reduced ticket prices to low-cost hotels and budget car rentals. Use discount sites, online travel agencies and meta-search engines to book your own travel. And take advantage of savings opportunities like frequent flyer miles, discount plans and other promotions from airlines, hotel chains and car rental companies.</p> <h3>Monitor Your Travel Expenses</h3> <p>The best way reduce business travel expenses is to know exactly what you&rsquo;re spending. Always check multiple places and consider alternatives before locking in your plans.</p> <ul> <li>Keep track of expenses and make sure employees are properly accounting for their costs. If your company does extensive travel, use business credit cards that give cash back or generous (and easily usable) frequent flyer miles to save money over time.</li> <li>Sometimes an extra night's stay may save money through cheaper airfare. If travel days are flexible, always look for prices within a day or two of your target travel days.</li> <li>Downgrade from business to coach, which can be a big cost saver. In cities with more than one airport, check which one offers the better fares.</li> <li>Re-check prices after you&rsquo;ve booked when using a retailer that guarantees you the &quot;best price.&quot;</li> </ul> <h3>Maximize Write-Offs</h3> <p>Tax deductions are another way to save money. For instance, every dollar you deduct can save you 25 cents if you&rsquo;re in the 25 percent tax bracket. But you must follow strict rules in the tax law if you want to deduct your travel expenses. Keep good records of each trip in accordance with tax rules (recordkeeping for business travel expenses is explained in <a href="http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p463.pdf" target="_blank">IRS Publication 463, Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses</a>.</p> <p>If your employees travel on company business, be sure to use an &ldquo;accountable plan&rdquo; to reimburse their costs. This can help to avoid treating reimbursements as compensation to employees and save the company payroll taxes that would otherwise be due on such compensation. Accountable plans are explained in the same IRS publication mentioned above.</p> <p>The bottom line is: A little effort can go a long way to reduce business travel expenses without harming your business activities.</p> <div class="field field-type-text field-field-blurb-amex"> <div class="field-label">AMEX Blurb:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>This article originally appeared on the <a href="http://www.theopenappcenter.com/save-money/4-ways-reduce-business-travel-expenses/?intlink=us-btfuel-hpcontentarticle4waysreducebte">OPEN App Center</a>. Visit <a href="http://www.theopenappcenter.com">www.theopenappcenter.com</a> for more information and resources for streamlining and growing your business.</p> </div> </div> </div> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/barbara-weltman">Barbara Weltman</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/small-business/4-ways-to-reduce-business-travel-expenses">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-3"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/250-tips-for-small-business-owners">250+ Tips for Small Business Owners</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/ramp-up-your-business-by-specializing">Ramp Up Your Business by Specializing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/start-a-business-for-next-to-nothing">Start a Business for Next to Nothing</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-small-business-mentors-you-can-access-for-nearly-free">6 Small Business Mentors You Can Access for Nearly Free!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/business-advice-from-a-billionaire">Business Advice from a Billionaire</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Entrepreneurship Small Business Resource Center business advice business savings business travel cutting expenses Sun, 20 Nov 2011 22:32:47 +0000 Barbara Weltman 790887 at http://www.wisebread.com 6 Tips to Shrink Your Bills Every Year http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bigstock_The_Incredible_Shrinking_Dolla_7769327.jpg" alt="Man with a tiny dollar" title="Man with a tiny dollar" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="176" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Everyone wants to make more money &mdash; it&rsquo;s exciting to think of what you can do with some extra cash. But it&rsquo;s a lot easier to reduce your bills than it is to make more money. I recently <a href="http://www.thewriterscoin.com/cutting-expenses-still-matters/">cut $120 from my monthly expenses</a> by doing an annual bill audit, and it only took a few hours of work.</p> <p>A bill audit means you commit to taking a look at your bills once a year and finding ways to maximize where your money is going.</p> <p>I just finished my own audit, and here are six tips that will help make things go smoothly.</p> <h3>1. Schedule It</h3> <p>This one is crucial &mdash; you won&rsquo;t get it done unless you schedule it. A one-off bill audit is great, but the real savings come from doing this every year. Set an annual reminder in your calendar program of choice, and then get to work.</p> <p>If you have a day or time of the year that you sit down and do &ldquo;paperwork,&rdquo; then add this to the list. Tax time is a good way to remember since you&rsquo;re looking at all the money you&rsquo;ve made. (See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-things-tax-preparers-should-tell-you">5 Things Tax Preparers Should Tell You</a>)</p> <h3>2. Itemize</h3> <p>Take a close look at your bills. Don&rsquo;t just write down the amount you&rsquo;re paying every month &mdash; that&rsquo;s useless. You need to know what&rsquo;s inside that bill.</p> <ul> <li>How much is your cable-box rental costing you? What about HBO?</li> <li>How much is texting costing you? What about overages?</li> <li>Are you paying for insurance coverage you don&rsquo;t need anymore?</li> </ul> <p>I found out I could cut roadside assistance because I have AAA now.&nbsp;The point is to look at the details so you can determine if you need every specific line item. Odds are you&rsquo;ll find something in there you can chuck.</p> <h3>3. Figure Out Your History</h3> <p>How much have you used the stuff you just itemized? Take a look at the past three months (you can find all this online, more likely than not) or so to see what your usage looks like.</p> <p>How many Netflix movies did you really watch?&nbsp;How many minutes did you use up on your cell phone? Texts? What about data?</p> <p>Put all this stuff into a spreadsheet and then look and see if there is a cheaper plan you can sign up for that better suits your actual needs, not what you think you need.</p> <p>Be careful, though &mdash; you don&rsquo;t want to sign up for a lesser plan only to get dinged with overage charges down the line. Pick one that covers you in case your usage bumps up a little.</p> <h3>4. Get Quotes</h3> <p>Thanks to the Internet, this is easy. Insurance companies will let you create and save quotes in minutes. For cell phones, cable, and Internet plans, just browse the different sites, and you should be able to get an idea of what it will cost you to change your plan.</p> <p>You might be eligible for extra savings if you actually call, so keep that in mind too.</p> <h3>5. Read the Fine Print</h3> <p>If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you read all the fine print. I switched to a crazy-cheap T-Mobile plan, but it's crazy cheap because they won&rsquo;t give me any discounts on new phones. I&rsquo;m OK with that, but some people won&rsquo;t be.</p> <p>Know exactly what you&rsquo;re getting into before you make the jump.</p> <h3>6. Call</h3> <p>I hate talking on the phone, but sometimes this is only way to get certain deals. It&rsquo;s also a great way to get all your questions answered. I switched my <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kick-that-cell-phone-contract-save-with-a-prepaid-plan">cell phone plan</a> on the phone and at the end of the switch, the customer service representative offered to take an extra $10 off my monthly bill to try some new service they were offering.</p> <p>After finding out the exact details (read the fine print!), I signed up and set a reminder to kill the plan in two years so I don&rsquo;t get charged. Calling is how I found out about the insurance coverage I no longer needed. I hate calling, but I like saving more.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/carlos-portocarrero">Carlos Portocarrero</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/6-tips-to-shrink-your-bills-every-year">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-4"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lower-your-credit-card-interest-rate-and-reduce-your-phone-bill-immediately-and-easily">Lower Your Credit Card Interest Rate and Reduce Your Phone Bill, Immediately and Easily</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">7 Monthly Expenses We Don&#039;t Realize We Don&#039;t Need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary &quot;Needs&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money">3 Reasons Why Keeping Your &quot;Latte Factor&quot; Will Help You Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting customer service cutting expenses reduce bills Thu, 20 Oct 2011 10:36:15 +0000 Carlos Portocarrero 755945 at http://www.wisebread.com The 4 Most Common Unnecessary "Needs" http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000011362238Small.jpg" alt="Couple watching TV" title="Couple watching TV" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Whenever I work with people on cutting their expenses, the easiest part is always at the beginning when we start slashing all their unnecessary spending habits. The need to cut those out of the budget is obvious. But once we move on to expenses that are deemed &quot;necessities,&quot; then the hard work begins.&nbsp;</p> <p>It's not that those expenses are impossible to eliminate because they truly are necessities. The difficulty lies with trying to convince an individual that even what seems like a need can sometimes be eliminated. From all the budgets that I've looked at, here are four of the most common &quot;needs&quot; that are really not that necessary.&nbsp;(See also: <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">7 Monthly Expenses We Don't Realize We Don't Need</a>)</p> <h3>1. Over-Buying on Real Needs</h3> <p>We can argue that none of these are <em>actually</em> necessities, but in our society, we probably need a house, a car, a washer and dryer, and at least one TV set.</p> <p>Okay, I get it.</p> <p>But how much are you spending on everything you think you need? You need a house to live comfortably, but it doesn't mean that you need a huge house with rooms that you seldom go into. You need a car to get to work, but that doesn't mean getting a new lease on a car every three years. You need many other things, but when you overindulge on features, then it's just living in luxury.</p> <h3>2. Wants You Think Are Needs</h3> <p>Of course, there's the age-old problem of believing that everything is a need when it's really a want. Sometimes people feel that keeping up with their peer group is a need, while others will&nbsp;feel that time is such a need that they don't even spend the few minutes a day to clip coupons (come on now, is your time worth THAT MUCH?). These may be true needs in some unique situations, but is that the real reason why <em>you</em> are spending more than you should?</p> <h3>3. Believing Everything You Already Have Is a Need</h3> <p>One major reason why lifestyle inflation is so dangerous is because it's very easy to get used to a luxurious lifestyle. As my parents always said, &quot;You won't miss any expenses you never incurred, but once you are used to the level of spending, it's hard to downsize.&quot; At one time or another, you likely shared a bedroom, but once you are used to having your own, it's difficult to go back. You never had an office in your house, but once you set one up, you don't want to settle for working on the kitchen counter. There was a time when the weight of your TV practically implied on your wealth, since the bigger it was, the more awesome things were. Nowadays, you need them to be as light as possible. Can you go back to that old TV?</p> <h3>4. Self-Created Needs</h3> <p>Quite often, we need a product because we got something else that requires it. A classic example is batteries. You need them because you got a brand new gaming console, but is the entertainment system really necessary? What about your <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/buying-a-new-smartphone-without-extending-your-contract">smartphone</a>? If you bought a low-end cell phone instead of that luxury smartphone, you might not need to pay that ridiculously expensive battery-replacement fee.</p> <p>And what about buying a Blu-ray player because you got a new LCD TV? Your excuse to buy the DVD player was exactly the same!</p> <p>Whenever you are thinking about cutting your expenses, scrutinize every line item. Chances are good that if you think about that expense enough, you will realize that almost nothing is really a &quot;need,&quot; which will help you cut down your spending rapidly. This worked for everyone I've helped, and I'm sure it will work for you too.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/david-ning">David Ning</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-5"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">7 Monthly Expenses We Don&#039;t Realize We Don&#039;t Need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money">3 Reasons Why Keeping Your &quot;Latte Factor&quot; Will Help You Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Lifestyle basic needs cutting expenses need vs. want Wed, 02 Mar 2011 13:00:12 +0000 David Ning 497880 at http://www.wisebread.com Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/iStock_000009635694Small.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="187" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>For most Americans, the pinnacle of financial independence centers on some vague notion of living debt-free. This debt-free life comes either through amazing feats of financial discipline during our working years, or as a final hard-won reward in retirement. But with an economy in turmoil, the specter of increased taxes looming as state and federal government deficits mushroom, and jobs becoming more and more temporary, is living debt-free even enough anymore?</p> <p>We all know the pitfalls of consumer debt, and we all strive for that sweet moment when we make our final mortgage payment. But beyond the fundamental lessons of living debt-free, how can we leverage our work, our income, and our knowledge to truly stay ahead of what appears to be an ever-more precarious financial curve? I assert that becoming debt-free is just the first in a series of steps necessary to survive in the new American economy. Here are some other points to consider:</p> <h3>1. Ruthlessly Examine Expenditures</h3> <p>Face it: Putting the credit cards on ice isn&rsquo;t enough anymore. We can work to avoid debt night and day and still be hit with some unforeseen event that levels our plans. A layoff, an uninsured medical emergency, or an accident can put us back at square one (or worse) financially. Staying ahead means saving more, and saving more means carefully examining every expenditure we make, becoming savvier to nefarious marketing influences and plugging the leaks in our financial lives. Ask yourself: Is this purchase essential? Does it support my larger financial efforts, or is it simply a black hole?</p> <h3>2. Activate Your Passive Assets</h3> <p>We work so hard to afford our homes and cars, but really put no demands on those assets themselves. Why shouldn&rsquo;t our largest purchases be income-producing capital investments too? As most people&rsquo;s biggest purchase and highest monthly expense, homes should be put to work. Is there a room you can rent out? Could the basement or attic become a permanent separate rental unit? And your automobile &mdash; would a truck serve you better and let you accomplish more (and more cheaply) by avoiding moving or delivery expenses? Could it become a means to launch and support a small side business?</p> <h3>3. Leverage All Types of Capital</h3> <p>Capital comes in all shapes and sizes. Living beyond debt-free means appreciating and leveraging social capital (your professional network, your friends, and your neighbors), knowledge capital (your skills and expertise), and time capital. How can each of these help you add to your income or reduce your expenses?</p> <h3>4. Rethink Industry and Marketing Forces</h3> <p>America runs on consumer spending, and most consumer spending is fueled by debt. Understand how the house of cards is built and carefully step away from the card table. Though the larger economic forces at play may be unchangeable, understanding how to not get caught in the worst of it is the key to success. Simplify your life where you can and become an ambassador for simplicity and frugality for your friends and family. Recalibrating expectations during birthdays, holidays, vacations, etc. can go a long way toward a saner and smarter financial existence.</p> <h3>5. Differentiate Needs and Wants</h3> <p>Reevaluating your ideas about needs and luxuries (sometimes ruthlessly) is probably part of what helped you become debt-free in the first place. Continuing to separate needs vs. wants and keeping your eye on the larger luxuries of freedom and security is still key.</p> <h3>6. Become a Micro-Entrepreneur</h3> <p>You are more than your day job. Your skills and time can be leveraged in new and creative ways to add to your income and help you be less vulnerable to the whims of larger economic forces. What skills from your primary job can be applied as a free agent part-time? What talents do you have that might translate into freelance work?</p> <h3>7. Embrace Independence and Local Interdependence</h3> <p>In an economy built on consumer unrest and dissatisfaction, independence and self-sufficiency are subversive concepts. Realizing how little you need through careful examination, thoughtful consideration, and efficient living is nothing short of revolutionary. Try growing a portion of your own food &mdash; it&rsquo;s local, organic, and virtually free. Share it with your neighbors. Learn to lend and borrow; return everything in better shape that you received it. Turn your neighbors into friends, and see how much we all already have and how independence (and friendly interdependence) can create small liberations.</p> <p>As we adjust to life mid-recession and realize that the economy is much more fragile than most of us ever understood, debt-free living may become the newest marker of success and a baseline for even more personal financial security. Though harder to attain, maybe this marker of restraint, financial mindfulness, community engagement, and simple living will be how we forge ahead and collectively change the industries and practices that brought us to the edge.&nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/kentin-waits">Kentin Waits</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-6"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-freedom-of-a-debt-free-life">The Freedom of a Debt-Free Life</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">7 Monthly Expenses We Don&#039;t Realize We Don&#039;t Need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/goal-setting-getting-out-of-debt-once-and-for-all">Goal Setting: Getting Out of Debt Once and For All</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary &quot;Needs&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money">3 Reasons Why Keeping Your &quot;Latte Factor&quot; Will Help You Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Debt Management Lifestyle cutting expenses debt free downsizing trading with neighbors Thu, 20 Jan 2011 14:00:12 +0000 Kentin Waits 466047 at http://www.wisebread.com 8 Ways Convenience is Screwing Your Finances http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-convenience-is-screwing-your-finances <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/8-ways-convenience-is-screwing-your-finances" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2707796714_c8a48b409b_z.jpg" alt="post it notes" title="post it notes" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="166" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Our collective hunger for more is great, motivating us to keep pushing the limits and never settling for the status quo. Because of this desire, we've found ways to make everything from finding the nearest gas station to staying in touch with a distant relative easier and easier, but all that convenience comes at a cost too.</p> <p>The U.S. median income in 1900 was $438 a year, and it shot up to $23,602 by 1999. You might look at this 5389% increase and say &quot;WOW. Life has got to be good.&quot; Yet, life isn't all that great right now. We are barely recovering from a recession (most say we are still in it), and everybody from the government to our schools to our neighbors are having a tough time making ends meet.</p> <p>I know there was inflation, but that's hardly the whole problem. Here are a few reasons why we can't seem to keep our budgets in check even though we keep getting huge raises. (See also: <a title="If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong" href="http://www.wisebread.com/if-budgeting-isnt-fun-youre-doing-it-wrong">If Budgeting Isn't Fun, You're Doing It Wrong</a>)</p> <h2>House Services</h2> <p>I'm guilty of this one, because I love my house cleaner. She comes every three weeks, and she makes everything sparkling clean. There's nothing I couldn't do myself of course, but if I can spend time sitting on the couch watching TV and doing nothing, why should I actually exercise and work?</p> <h2>Cell Phones</h2> <p>I have an eight-month-old daughter named Sara, and I can't wait for the day when I have to deny her request for a cell phone. My excuse will be &quot;But you don't need a cell phone...&quot; I wonder what her response will be when she realizes that I have one, and I actually don't need it either.</p> <h2>Extra TVs</h2> <p>It's common nowadays for a household to have two, three, or even four TVs in the house. Of course, each one has got to be hooked up to paid TV service too, right? Oh, I need to watch TV when I take a bath, for god's sake. What else would I be doing when my house cleaners are cleaning? (See also:<a title="8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained" href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-alternatives-to-cable-tv-that-will-keep-you-entertained"> 8 Alternatives to Cable TV That Will Keep You Entertained</a>)</p> <h2>Cars</h2> <p>We love brand new cars, especially with all those options that signifiicantly add to the cost. Premium sound, a sun roof, a navigation system, heated and electronic seats, V6 turbo, and performance packages are all necessary, because you know, how else will we be able to get to work?&nbsp;</p> <h2>Eating Out</h2> <p>I love eating out, and I'm a good tipper too. If I cook at home, how will all those waiters/waitresses survive? Not&nbsp;paying for the markup of the dining service is only good for my own family's budget.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Diapers</h2> <p>Why would I need to wash anything when I can just replace it? Wipe and throw them away. The trash man will collect them, and I'm saving money because I'm sure my house cleaner would want to be paid extra if I asked her to wash diapers too.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Post-it Notes</h2> <p>It's not like I&nbsp;can use anything reuseable, like my computer, to remember appointments.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Credit Cards</h2> <p>I can see why a small population of people won't like credit cards, but I bet most people won't spend more with that convenience. I mean, why would anyone buy more things when they always have money available? Why would anyone buy more when credit card companies send countless marketing materials to get us to buy more, travel more, and do more?&nbsp;</p> <p>Back in the 1900, a pound of butter might have set you back a quarter. Nowadays, it probably costs $3 for the same thing. That's inflation, but our income more than made up for that. On the other hand, people washed their clothes by hand back then, costing almost nothing. Nowadays, a washer costs $600 dollars and a dryer costs another $600, not to mention that many of us end up all going to the dry cleaners anyway.</p> <p>Convenience is great, but watch your wallets before you conveniently lose your fortune.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/david-ning">David Ning</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/8-ways-convenience-is-screwing-your-finances">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-7"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/9-best-free-financial-learning-tools">9 Best Free Financial Learning Tools</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/64-funny-inspiring-and-stupid-money-quotes-from-famous-people">64 Funny, Inspiring and Stupid Money Quotes From Famous People</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/4-signs-you-are-teaching-your-kids-bad-financial-habits">4 Signs You Are Teaching Your Kids Bad Financial Habits</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/people-who-make-a-lot-of-money-do-these-11-things-do-you">People Who Make a Lot of Money Do These 11 Things — Do You?</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-best-and-worst-places-to-stash-cash-in-your-home">The Best and Worst Places to Stash Cash in Your Home</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Personal Finance convenience cutting back cutting expenses Wed, 17 Nov 2010 14:00:12 +0000 David Ning 289743 at http://www.wisebread.com 3 Reasons Why Keeping Your "Latte Factor" Will Help You Save Money http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/2439677581_3a4846e610.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="140" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>&quot;The Latte Factor&quot; is a term referring to the small expenditures that you make every day that could add up to huge savings over time. This concept was popularized by David Bach in his book <a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385660308?ie=UTF8&amp;tag=stuffies-20&amp;linkCode=as2&amp;camp=1789&amp;creative=390957&amp;creativeASIN=0385660308">The Automatic Millionaire</a> (affiliate link) and now there are many articles that tell you that saving just $5 a day on coffee will make you a millionaire. The math behind these articles is sound, but should you give up your little indulgences? Here are a few reasons why keeping your &quot;latte factor&quot; will help you save.</p> <h3>It is a small price to pay for happiness.</h3> <p>My husband's latte factor is bubble milk tea. Every week he gets one because it makes him happy. When I started dating him I actually told him that his milk tea fix is costing him hundreds of dollars a year. Needless to say he was not pleased and argued that he saves enough money to justify such a small expenditure. After I thought about it, I actually agreed with him.</p> <p>He works hard for his money and he deserves to get this one small thing that costs less than $5 a week. I believe that saving money should not be a punishment, so when you deprive yourself of a tiny expense that makes you happy, the whole exercise of saving money will become a negative experience. When we experience negative emotions we are more likely to give up on an endeavor, so if your latte factor gives you a cheap dose of happiness then it is worth keeping.</p> <h3>You can save more elsewhere.</h3> <p>If my husband did cut out his milk tea habit then we would have a few hundred dollars more a year, but that pales in comparison to how much we saved when we <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-try-to-reduce-your-rent">asked for a rent reduction</a> and refinanced our mortgage. If you really want to keep your small indulgences then you should try to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-save-big">save on the big things</a>. How many lattes can you buy if you <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-calls-you-can-make-now-to-save-hundreds-to-thousands-of-dollars">cut out cable TV</a> and watched shows online instead? There are many ways you can save without sacrificing anything in your lifestyle, and I think those things should be done before you stop going to Starbucks.</p> <h3>Reward yourself for saving.</h3> <p>Ultimately, <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/should-you-spend-your-money-while-you-can">money is meant to be spent</a>. I think it is a good idea to keep your latte factor as a reward for saving money. For example, if you hit your savings goal for the month then there is no reason not to enjoy a little bit of your money. If you keep your small luxuries as a reminder to save money, then they will work out to be positive reinforcement.</p> <p>The concept that saving a little every day will add up to a lot over time is definitely sound. However, the fallacy in the idea that &quot;eliminating the latte factor will make you a millionaire&quot; is that those who cut out their morning coffee or newspaper usually do not save that money at all. More often than not I have seen people who stopped spending on little things blow the &quot;savings&quot; on something bigger. As long as you are committed to saving consistently, you can build up your nest egg and still keep the small expenditures that enhance your life.</p> <p><em>What is your &quot;latte factor&quot;? Have you attempted to cut it out to save money?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/xin-lu">Xin Lu</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-8"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">7 Monthly Expenses We Don&#039;t Realize We Don&#039;t Need</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary &quot;Needs&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Lifestyle cutting expenses Latte Factor Fri, 16 Apr 2010 14:00:03 +0000 Xin Lu 23406 at http://www.wisebread.com Getting by without a job, part 3--cut spending http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-3-cut-spending <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/getting-by-without-a-job-part-3-cut-spending" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/bike-wheels.jpg" alt="Bicycle wheels" title="Bicycle Wheels" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="333" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>[Editor's note:&nbsp; If you recently lost your job, take a look at Wise Bread's collection of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/lost-my-job-tips-for-the-recently-laid-off">tips and resources for the recently laid off</a>.]</em></p> <p>With the economy tanking, more and more people will be not just losing their job, but will be finding themselves without one for an extended period. When that happens it's not good enough to just cut back a little and use debt to make ends meet until the economy recovers. Getting by without a job is possible, even for an extended period--but it requires taking drastic measures to cut spending, and it requires taking them early, while you've still got some cash.</p> <p>This is part three of a four-part series. Part 1 was on the first <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-1-losing-a-job">things to do if you lose your job</a> and part 2 was on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-2-boost-income">boosting your income</a>. Part 4 is on <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-4-get-free-stuff">getting what you need without money</a>.</p> <p>Despite the fact that it's kind of hiding here as number 3 in a four-part series, this is really the kernel of how to get by without a job--you need to get your expenses low enough that you can cover them with just the money you can earn though casual labor plus whatever you can realize from whatever assets you've managed to hang on to (interest, dividends, rents, etc.).</p> <p>Last year, when I suggested that it was possible to <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/our-high-high-standard-of-living-1">get by on a minimum wage job</a>, I drew a considerable bit of mockery, so I'm expecting much the same when I suggest ways to get by without a job at all. Let me restate what I said then: We have a name for the standard of living that results from living on a minimum wage income. We call it &quot;Living in poverty.&quot; Getting by with no job at all does not result in a higher standard of living--it is though, to my mind, an improvement. Minimum wage work is often difficult or dull (or both), and is too often dangerous as well. Eking out a meager existence on what you can earn through casual labor has the huge advantage of allowing you much greater choice in just what that labor is.</p> <p>The biggest problem when it comes to surviving without a regular job is that most households have a terribly inflexible cost structure: Their bare minimum fixed expenses exceed any income that could be earned with casual labor. There is no getting around this except to completely change the cost structure of the household.</p> <p>Most people resist this step until they've done permanent damage to their finances--run up debts that they'll never be able to pay back, had the heat and power turned off, or even been evicted.</p> <p>It's a hard step, but you're way ahead of the game if you do this early rather than late.</p> <h2>Cutting fixed expenses</h2> <p>Most of the fixed costs for a household are tied up with housing. There's the rent or mortgage, there's the utilities, and there's the insurance. If you own a house free and clear with no mortgage (or if the payments are very low), then it may make sense to stay there (even though just utilities and insurance can add up to as much as the cost of a cheap apartment). If you're renting or have a mortgage, you need to look seriously at moving to the lowest-cost housing you can find--and start looking the instant you begin to suspect that this period of unemployment won't be the sort of brief sojourn that people can generally expect during good economic times.</p> <p>The most obvious thing to do is to move in with relatives. Many people view this as the sort of ignominious defeat that's little better than ending up living in their car, but it's a step that can turn a catastrophe into just a bump in the road--if you do it early enough. If you wait until your savings are exhausted and you've run up a bunch of credit card debt, you can put yourself into a hole that you may not be able to get out of short of bankruptcy. One thing to keep in mind is that it is temporary. You're not moving in with relatives forever, just until the economy improves enough that you can find steady work again.</p> <p>If you don't have relatives (or they won't take you in), other sorts of house-sharing arrangements are possible, such as splitting costs with a roommate or renting a room in someone else's house. Last year Myscha suggested <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/twelve-ways-to-become-rent-or-mortgage-free">twelve ways to house yourself for free</a>.</p> <p>The other really large expense for a lot of people is transportation. Owning a car costs <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">thousands of dollars a year</a>--and only about half the expense is the purchase price and financing; the rest is just fuel, maintenance, taxes, and so on.</p> <p>If your car is paid off, it may make sense to keep it; it would put some opportunities to earn money within reach that wouldn't be if you had to rely on public transport or a bicycle or walking. But owing money on a car is just about untenable for someone without a job.&nbsp; (Owing money on <strong>anything</strong> is just about untenable for someone without a job; a car is simply one thing that many people buy on credit.)</p> <p>Those are the big ones. If you can reduce your cost of housing enough (and you don't have other debt that you have to make payments on), you can cover your other living expenses at some level, even with a very low income. In fact, if you live in a rich country and can find a place to live for free, you can very possibly reduce your other expenses almost to zero as well, at least temporarily.</p> <h2>Cutting variable expenses</h2> <p>My recent <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-belt-tightening">emergency belt-tightening</a> post covered cutting variable expenses on an emergency basis, and that's a good place to start. If you're at the point of getting by without a job for an extended period, though, you actually need to ease up from those drastic measures. In an emergency you sometimes have to defer necessary expenses simply because you don't have the cash. Doing that, though, often costs more in the long run. If this isn't an emergency, but rather is the way you're going to be living for a while, you need to start taking the long view.</p> <p>Figure out what you absolutely have to have. Then figure out the absolute cheapest way to get it. Things like buying in bulk and stocking up during sales can <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/huge-tax-free-investment-returns">yield large returns</a>. Wise Bread is full of tactical ideas for satisfying your needs as cheaply as possible.</p> <p>Even if you don't have a regular job, if you have some income and really cheap housing, you can fund all your needs, and still have a little left over to satisfy a few of your wants. The key is to draw the line before your spending exceeds your income. That may mean that you don't satisfy very many wants at all, but &quot;more than none&quot; is really pretty good, in the grand scheme of things.</p> <h2>Don't screw up</h2> <p>When you're getting by without a job, you have much less margin for error.</p> <p>For one thing, especially in the year after you lose a job, you have to be careful about taxes. If you don't have a regular job, you probably don't have any money being withheld. Looking on the bright side, if you're not making much money, you probably don't owe a lot. However, if you get any severance pay (especially if you get it late in the year), it can make the year in which you lose your job the highest-paid year of your life. Be sure that enough gets set aside to cover the taxes. If you dip into a tax-advantaged plan like a 401(k) or an IRA, be sure you know what the tax consequences are. If getting out of a house you can't afford involves giving it back to the bank, be aware that the IRS can treat any loan balance that the bank forgives as income.</p> <p>For another thing, you probably have a lot less stuff. Some things you sold to raise cash. Other things you gave away or donated or simply tossed when you moved into much smaller housing. Little things like breaking a dish, that used to mean that you had an eleven place setting instead of twelve, now mean that someone has to eat out of a bowl until you can scrounge up a free replacement.</p> <p>A minor car accident that used to mean dining out less for a few weeks until you'd covered the deductible, now means that you've permanently lost the interest that the deductible money would have been earning--if you haven't lost the use of the car altogether.</p> <p>In fact, though, being careful not to break stuff and using things gently so that they last is just good sense--a wise habit that will be worth preserving even when times get better.</p> <h2>Enjoy it</h2> <p>Is there any overlap between living in poverty and living large? Personally, I think there is. Being forced by hard economic times to eke out a meager existence--that's not much like living large. But <strong>choosing</strong> to eke out a meager existence, because it's the best way to live according to your own values?&nbsp; That's living about as large as you possibly can.</p> <p>Most people never think about what they most want to do with their lives. They find something that they're okay at that pays enough money to support them, and then let a rising income drive a rising standard of living with no real thought even to the <strong>possibility</strong> that there might be alternatives. In hard times, though, the alternatives may be all you've got. Fortunately, there's a good chance that one of those alternatives is actually a better choice than whatever you ended up doing.</p> <p>You can get by without a job if you cut your spending enough. And if you do that, you open up a universe of possibilities that most people don't even know is out there. Take advantage of the opportunity to explore those previously uncontemplated choices. If you don't like what you find, you can go back to working a regular job just as soon as you find one. Maybe, though, you'll find the alternatives as alluring as I do.</p> <p>Especially in rich countries, it's possible to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-4-get-free-stuff">get a lot of what you need without money</a>, which is the final part of this series.<br /> &nbsp;</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/getting-by-without-a-job-part-3-cut-spending">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-9"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/five-reasons-why-i-love-public-transportation">Five Reasons Why I Love Public Transportation</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/save-more-gas-by-safely-following-trucks">Save More Gas by Safely Following Trucks</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-score-cheap-rent-without-annoying-roommates">5 Ways to Score Cheap Rent — Without Annoying Roommates</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/did-your-car-break-down-check-for-recalled-parts-and-fix-it-for-free">Did your car break down? Check for recalled parts and fix it for free!</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-benefits-of-a-walkable-neighborhood">The Benefits of a Walkable Neighborhood</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living Cars and Transportation Real Estate and Housing cheap rent cheap transport cutting expenses transportation Sun, 30 Nov 2008 22:04:38 +0000 Philip Brewer 2613 at http://www.wisebread.com Emergency belt-tightening http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-belt-tightening <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/emergency-belt-tightening" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/firetruck_1.jpg" alt="Firetruck" title="Firetruck" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="244" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>Typical personal finance advice would have you divide your budget categories into two groups:&nbsp; Your fixed expenses and your discretionary expenses.&nbsp; I generally don't like that distinction much--how is your power bill more fixed than your grocery bill?&nbsp; When you reach the point of emergency economizing, though, it's a useful way to structure your thinking.<br /> <a href="/manage-your-fixed-expenses"><br /> Fixed expenses</a> can be reduced, but those reductions often require long lead times (waiting for a lease to run out, so you can move to a cheaper place) or they require an upfront investment (buying a more energy-efficient refrigerator).&nbsp; Even when you can cut them, it's generally not practical to reduce them to zero, (except for those few people living off-the-grid).</p> <p>So, in a financial emergency, the first place to look is at your discretionary expenses.</p> <h2>Start with zero</h2> <p>If you've got a <a href="/refactor-your-budget-categories">budget</a>, go through the non-fixed expenses and plug in zero for every number.&nbsp; Then, go back and adjust up the ones that are really essential.&nbsp; (<a href="/a-better-way-to-create-a-budget">Starting from zero</a> and just budgeting what your household needs is, by the way, always a good idea.)</p> <p>You've got to have <strong>food</strong>.&nbsp; In an emergency, though, you can cut your food bill by a lot more than you probably think.&nbsp; (And, as a bonus, <a href="/healthy-frugal-eating">cheap eating</a> is probably healthier than what you were eating before, even if it may have to be less organic and less local.)</p> <p>You've got to stay <strong>healthy</strong>.&nbsp; If you've got medical insurance, keep it in effect if you possibly can.&nbsp; If you're being treated for a medical condition, call your doctor's office and inquire if the treatment you're getting is the lowest-cost treatment that's available.&nbsp; (The phone conversation--typically with a nurse or physician's assistant--will probably be free.)&nbsp; In a financial emergency, it probably makes sense to delay even things that are important, if they're not urgent--eye and dental exams, routine check-ups, etc.</p> <p>If you've still got a job, you probably need <strong>transportation</strong>.&nbsp; In an emergency, though, you should zero out any transportation expense that isn't earning you money.&nbsp; Every trip should be either to work or from work, with stops for errands along the way and not trips of their own.&nbsp; Reducing the number of cars your household supports can save a huge amount of money--<a href="/think-you-can-afford-more-house-in-the-exurbs-think-again">each car costs thousands of dollars a year</a> in fuel, insurance, and financing expenses.&nbsp; Consider things like carpooling, public transport, walking, bicycling, and so on.</p> <p><strong>Education</strong> is tricky.&nbsp; If you're not in school, zeroing out your education budget doesn't save you much money.&nbsp; If you are in some sort of degree program, disrupting it might reduce your future earnings by vastly more than you're saving--and yet, that might be the right choice in an emergency.&nbsp; On the other hand, if financial aid is paying most of your education expenses, or if your health insurance depends on your being a full-time student, your education expense may be too good a bargain to pass up if you can possibly afford it.</p> <p><strong>Debt payments</strong> generally can't be escaped, except by filing bankruptcy, which is obviously a last resort.&nbsp; There may be a few exceptions--student loans can be deferred under certain circumstances, there are moves afoot to develop programs for restructuring mortgages.&nbsp; For debts that are tied to some specific thing (such as a car), consider selling the thing and putting the money toward the loan.&nbsp; Doing that will generally leave you out of pocket, but getting the monthly payment off your back can still leave you ahead--the sort of hard choice you sometimes have to make in an emergency.</p> <p>That's about it.&nbsp; Every other discretionary expense should go to zero:&nbsp; recreation, eating out, vacation, travel, clothes, shoes, etc.</p> <h2>Defer what you can't avoid</h2> <p>Many expenses that can't be avoided can be deferred in an emergency.&nbsp; Generally, don't replace (or pay to repair) things that break or wear out.&nbsp; For example, instead of getting a broken dryer fixed, <a href="/make-your-clothes-last-longer-without-spending-big">dry your clothes on a drying rack</a> until the emergency is over.&nbsp; (As a bonus, the clothes will last longer.)&nbsp; You probably can't get away without fixing your furnace or hot water heater, but you can get by without lots of things that you're used to using every day--microwave, toaster, TV, stereo, iPod, etc.&nbsp; Make them last as long as you can, but when they go, do without until the emergency is over.</p> <p>Sometimes proper maintenance will save a lot of money in the long run if done promptly--replacing a roof before there's water damage--but in an emergency, it's often necessary to accept that you won't be able to make the choice that's cheapest in the long run, because you're short of cash in the short run.&nbsp; That's the nature of emergencies--you do what has to be done, and then do what you can to mitigate the harm after the emergency is over.</p> <h2>Ask for necessities</h2> <p>If you have relatives who give you gifts, ask that they give you necessities instead of luxuries.&nbsp; Nobody wants to get socks and underwear for Christmas--except people with holes in their socks and worn-out elastic in their underwear.</p> <h2>Use your time</h2> <p>If your financial emergency is due to the loss of a job, you've now got time that you didn't used to have.&nbsp; Some of it--most of it--should probably go toward finding a new job.&nbsp; But there's still time that can be used in place of spending money.&nbsp; Cook cheap meals from scratch (much cheaper than prepared meals).&nbsp; Do stuff around the house that you might otherwise have hired someone else to do.&nbsp; See if you can't do stuff for neighbors--helping in their garden, showing them how to create a website, and tutoring their kids can keep you on a more even footing when they're sharing produce from their garden, giving you rides into town, and letting you use their tools.&nbsp; Make things (sweaters &amp; scarves, jellies &amp; jams, beer &amp; wine, cakes &amp; pies) that you can give as gifts or barter for stuff you need but can't make.</p> <h2>Look ahead</h2> <p>Don't dismiss the fixed expenses entirely.&nbsp; For one thing, even small measures like adjusting your thermostat and turning off lights you're not using will definitely save dollars, even though they won't reduce your utility bills to zero.&nbsp; For another, even &quot;fixed&quot; expenses are only fixed in the short term.&nbsp; Depending on how long your emergency lasts, some (or even many) of your fixed expenses will become unfixed.&nbsp; Know when your lease is up, when your cell phone contract is up, when the term ends for your kid's private school.&nbsp; Look especially at annual fees that will get charged automatically if you don't cancel something.&nbsp; Figure out <strong>now</strong> when you'll have to put the wheels in motion in order to switch to a lower-cost option at the next opportunity. &nbsp;</p> <p>If you're not in debt, it's pretty amazing how low you can push your expenses on an emergency basis, simply by zeroing out all your discretionary spending and deferring other spending (including essential spending) until the emergency ends.&nbsp; As in so many other areas of life, it's really debt that's the killer.&nbsp; In fact, I'd go so far as to suggest that, in the current economic situation, having any significant debt means that you're already in a financial emergency--even if you've got a good job and a solid <a href="/figuring-the-size-of-your-emergency-fund">emergency fund</a>.&nbsp; I recommend some preemptive belt-tightening and getting that debt paid off.</p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/philip-brewer">Philip Brewer</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/emergency-belt-tightening">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-10"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/it-takes-a-frugal-spouse-to-make-a-frugal-home">It takes a frugal spouse to make a frugal home</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beware-of-these-5-signs-youre-becoming-less-frugal">Beware of These 5 Signs You&#039;re Becoming Less Frugal</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/15-ways-to-stay-on-budget-even-with-your-spendy-friends">15 Ways to Stay on Budget — Even With Your Spendy Friends</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/on-choosing-and-defending-your-luxuries">On Choosing and Defending Your Luxuries</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/whats-the-right-way-to-save">What&#039;s the Right Way to Save?</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Frugal Living budget budgeting cutting expenses emergency financial emergency fixed expenses frugality living expenses reducing expenses Fri, 07 Nov 2008 23:33:47 +0000 Philip Brewer 2573 at http://www.wisebread.com 7 Monthly Expenses We Don't Realize We Don't Need http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need <div class="field field-type-filefield field-field-blog-image"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need" class="imagecache imagecache-250w imagecache-linked imagecache-250w_linked"><img src="http://wisebread.killeracesmedia.netdna-cdn.com/files/fruganomics/imagecache/250w/blog-images/monthly expenses.JPG" alt="list of expenses" title="list of expenses" class="imagecache imagecache-250w" width="250" height="375" /></a> </div> </div> </div> <p>When you put together a frugal budget, you are usually careful to make sure you're not spending money where you don't need to. But are you getting railroaded by expenses you are bearing which you don't even realize you can avoid? Here are a few you may want to consider paring down.</p> <h2>Television</h2> <p>Okay, for some people television is not an option &mdash; it is a necessity. And if you are one of those people, that's fine. But even so, it might pay to take a close look at exactly what you are paying for and whether or not you can take up some of the slack.</p> <p>I had free cable for the longest time. It was simply a matter of moving in, plugging in the tv to the cable outlet to see if it would work, and blamo &mdash; it worked! I didn't have the heart to advise the cable company that I was getting free cable, so I just kept it. Of course a few months later, the cable company realized the error of its ways and cut the cable. I thought as an exercise I'd see how long I could last without it. And you know what? With the internet I could get all the news stories I wanted and more, and although I initially missed some of my favourite shows, I didn't miss them enough to go back to paying upwards of $50/month for them.</p> <p>If you are not willing to cut out the television entirely, consider cutting some of the extra services or beefed-up channel selections you have. Personally, I found my life was immensely enriched by listening to more music, reading, and socializing instead of sitting in front of the tube.</p> <h2>Credit Card Insurance</h2> <p>I <a target="_blank" href="/credit-card-insurance-no-thanks">recently wrote a post</a> going into more detail about this expense, but to sum it up, more often than not it is a superfluous expense for which the benefits do not outweigh the costs.</p> <h2>Coffee</h2> <p>As per the well-known <a target="_blank" href="/the-retirement-latte">Latte Factor</a> , those cups of java can add up! Sure, it always tastes better when you get the local brew and don't have to clean the coffee pot at home yourself, but you're paying through the nose for this service. Not only that, but every time you take away a coffee, you're hurting the environment by disposing of yet another (albeit recycled) paper cup.</p> <h2>Bottled Water</h2> <p>I just paid over $2 for a 710ml bottle of water. It's water! Shouldn't it be free? Bottled water comes from many sources and is sometimes just <a target="_blank" href="http://www.nsf.org/consumer/bottled_water/bw_types.asp?program=BottledWat">filtered tap water</a> anyway, and the plastic is of such poor quality that after 6 months of shelf life the plastic actually starts to break down and <a target="_blank" href="http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Bottled-WaterTap-Water.htm">leach toxins</a> into your water! Not to mention the amount of <a target="_blank" href="http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2007/10/10/bottled-water.html">waste</a> used bottles are producing.</p> <p>With a little forethought and preparation, you can carry a sturdy glass bottle or thermos of tap water around with you and save the astronomical expense.</p> <h2>Lunch</h2> <p>Ever since I was a child, I brown bagged yummy lunches that I looked forward to. No baloney sandwiches here &mdash; I brought left-overs! When I became an adult, I always cooked enough for dinner to yield a lunch the following day. No time was wasted in the morning getting it ready - it was already in a re-useable container in the fridge ready to go. Most workplaces have a microwave, and even if they don't, I don't mind cold stew if it will save me $10 on a mediocre lunch eaten out.</p> <h2>Home Phone</h2> <p>For the last year, I have had nothing but my cell phone as my &quot;land line&quot;. This has worked out just fine, and I haven't missed the home phone one bit. Most cellular plans have great features and promotions that will suit your specific needs (be they long distance, lots of minutes, or a good range).</p> <p>Another consideration as an alternative to the home phone is the increasing popularity of voice over IP, where you can use your internet connection to call other computers, land lines, and cell phones. Some of these services are free (or partially free) like <a href="http://www.skype.com">Skype</a>, and others you will pay for depending on your needs.</p> <h2>Grocery Store</h2> <p>The more often you go the grocery store, the more likely you are to spend over your budget. When I went shopping religiously every Tuesday evening, I had a list I'd been working on throughout the week, and I stuck to it quite effectively. Then I moved to a place more conveniently located closer to the grocery store, and thought it would be neat to just buy the ingredients only a meal or two in advance.</p> <p>It may have been fun to prepare meals inspired by what I saw as I cruised the aisles, but my grocery expenses also almost doubled as a result. Not only that, but I gained weight too! Sticking to a list can save a ton of money and grief.</p> <p><em>These are just a few among the myriad of monthly expenses we don't realise we don&rsquo;t need to be doling out our dollars for. What are some of yours?</em></p> <br /><div id="custom_wisebread_footer"><div id="rss_tagline">This article is from <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/nora-dunn">Nora Dunn</a> of <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/seven-monthly-expenses-we-dont-realize-we-dont-need">Wise Bread</a>, an award-winning personal finance and <a href="http://www.wisebread.com/credit-cards">credit card comparison</a> website. Read more great articles from Wise Bread:</div><div class="view view-similarterms view-id-similarterms view-display-id-block_2 view-dom-id-11"> <div class="view-content"> <div class="item-list"> <ul> <li class="views-row views-row-1 views-row-odd views-row-first"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/the-4-most-common-unnecessary-needs">The 4 Most Common Unnecessary &quot;Needs&quot;</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-2 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/3-reasons-why-keeping-your-latte-factor-will-help-you-save-money">3 Reasons Why Keeping Your &quot;Latte Factor&quot; Will Help You Save Money</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-3 views-row-odd"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/beyond-debt-free-getting-by-in-the-new-economy">Beyond Debt-Free: Getting By in the New Economy</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-4 views-row-even"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/how-to-travel-full-time-for-17000-a-year-or-less">How to Travel Full-Time for $17,000 a Year (or Less!)</a></span> </div> </li> <li class="views-row views-row-5 views-row-odd views-row-last"> <div class="views-field-title"> <span class="field-content"><a href="http://www.wisebread.com/10-monthly-bills-you-can-slash">10 Monthly Bills You Can Slash</a></span> </div> </li> </ul> </div> </div> </div> </div><br/></br> Budgeting Lifestyle cutting expenses fixed expenses lifestyle changes monthly expenses Fri, 26 Oct 2007 15:57:03 +0000 Nora Dunn 1324 at http://www.wisebread.com