5. Rethink transportation. Perhaps you need to keep the car payment, but you can certainly reduce your gas costs. “Limit shopping trips or make a list before you leave the house that prioritizes where you want to go and the fastest route, so you hit everything,” Smith advises. “We’re used to running out to pick up milk, then later remembering we forgot to grab the laundry, then an hour later driving to get lunch, so we end up making numerous trips throughout the day.” If you strategize your day, you’ll save time and money.
6. Renegotiate every bill. Call every credit card company you owe and reduce your interest rate, especially if you’ve had a salary cut or job loss. “Most will lower your rate or knock off part of the bill if you tell them in advance that you’re in trouble,” says Smith. “It’s better for both parties to find common ground and create a workable plan.”
7. Cut dining out in half. No one will argue that the grab-and-go lifestyle isn’t easier, but if it doubles (or triples) your monthly food budget, is it truly worth the convenience? With simple pre-planning, families can save hundreds of dollars each month by eating at home and using the extra cash for other needs, says Smith. Even just reducing meals out by half can shave enough off your budget to toss into savings.
For more information on budgeting, check out Smith’s site, “Tough Times,” at the University of Illinois.
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