Top Ways to Find Secret Money in Your Budget

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Do you hate that feeling of writing down all of your expenses and then disovering, when you go to pay them, that you don't have enough money? Well, don't fret. Take a look at these places where you can find some money to help make your ends meet.

Take $100 from Groceries. I know that may sound impossible, because after all, you have to eat. But you don't have to spend as much as you do every month on food. For instance, stop buying in bulk, and you will cut down on your weekly grocery bill. Research by Supervalu, a grocer with 3,400 stores nationwide, found that people would rather buy ten items for $10 rather than five items for $5. You will not eat all those Cheerios this month. So, instead of buying ten boxes or ten rolls of toilet paper at one weekly trip, buy five and save those extra dollars for next month's budget. In short, buy what you need for the week or the month, vs. what you need for the quarter or the year. Budgeting is about discipline and consistency. Your goal is not to spend all the money just deposited from this week's paycheck on as much as you can get. So, plan it out and buy wisely.

Take $50 from Activities. Of course the gym has benefits. But you need some extra money, so you may want to cut out your gym membership and instead borrow a work out tape from the local library every week. You can also cut back on activity fees for your children. They don't have to play every sport, every season. Just sign them up for the ones that they request or the ones you can afford. Enrolment fees can range from $45 and up to register for sports or buy uniforms. Try it for one season at least.

Take $50 from Gas. With the average cost of gas at $3.50 per gallon estimated by AAA, if you cut out just one tank per month, you can save $50 to $75 depending on the size of your car. While the destination may be free, the drive there will cost you. So cut out a few leisurely long drives and take up the neighbor who is offering to carpool to football practice or the weekly game. Also, not driving during lunch doesn't only prevent you from spending unnecessarily on food, but it also saves you on gas.

Take $40 from Bank Fees. Between the cost of checking accounts, ATM fees and (God-forbid) overdraft fees, you probably spend at least $40 more than you need to monthly. A survey by Moneyrates.com shows that average checking fees are $12, overdraft fees are on average $30 and ATM fees are $2.60 per transaction. The good news is you don't have to pay these fees, although many opt to. Find a small community bank or a credit union that does not offer a fee for checking accounts. Instead of using an ATM, get cash back from the supermarket or similar type store. And as for overdrafts, you won't be involved in this mess, because you will be sticking to your budget. But if you do transgress and bounce a check, call the bank immediately and request that the charge be reversed.

Take $30 from Phone Bills. These days most people have a bundle service that provides home phone, cable and Internet. But many don't need a home phone, because they use their cell phone all the time. Call and find out how much you can save if you drop the phone portion of that bundle. It will likely save you $25 to $30 per month on your bill.

Take $20 from Lunch. A Visa survey shows that workers go out to eat twice per week at roughly $10 per outing. If you gave this up for just one week, you would save $20 per month. Instead you could bring your lunch on these days and save calories as well as dollars.

Take $10 from coffee. No one is saying you can't drink your favorite coffee brand. You just may need to buy it by the bag and brew it yourself one week out of the month. Data shows that depending on age, workers spend from $14 to $24 per week on coffee. If you just brewed your own coffee one week out of the month, you would save at least $10. After doing this for a couple of months, you should be as good as your favorite barista at the coffee shop!

--Written by Sakina P. Spruell for MainStreet

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