5 Quick Fixes for Your Budget


If you’re going to make it through this recession, you’ve got to start cutting your household budget.

“We’ve spent so many years keeping up with the Joneses that we’ve forgotten how to spend within our means and spend on what’s important to us,” says Jennifer Smith, a financial coach and creator of MillionaireMommyNextDoor.com.

Though you may have some trouble deciding where and how to adjust your budget, here are some options you may want to consider first.

1. Clip Coupons

Clipping coupons may be an annoying task and even embarrassing for some people, but you can’t argue with the numbers.

The Savings: Studies conducted by the Promotion Marketing Association Coupon Council show that an average family spending $5,000 a year on groceries can save as much as $1,000 per year if they spend 20 minutes with the newspaper and a pair of scissors.

2. Commute by Public Transportation
Americans spend an average of 38 hours a week in traffic, according a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute. Maximize time and save money by ditching your car and lowering your commute costs.

The Savings: The Victoria Transportation Policy Institute estimates the cost of driving to be as much as $1.64 per mile for urban peak driving. That means a 40-mile commute to work could cost you $3,411.20 a year. By comparison, the cost of taking a bus the same distance would cost about $499.20 a year. That comes out to an extra $2,912 a year.

3. Insulate Your Home
You don’t have to sacrifice heating or central air just to save a few bucks. Properly insulating your home, windows and water pipes can cut energy prices and ensure you stay comfortable indoors.

The Savings: More than 50% of the total energy used in American households goes to either heating or cooling a home. A little bit of insulation can reduce your energy costs by as much as 30%.

4. Turn to Family for Childcare
According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 5.6 million working parents paid for childcare in 2005. Though working from home, or leaving a child with a grandparent during the day can cut costs, not everyone has a schedule that supports telecommuting or the luxury of a stay-at-home grandparent. If you have young children and want to lower your day-care bills, arranging to leave work a little early in order to watch them yourself may be the right thing to do.

The Savings: On average, childcare cost $116 per week in 2005. That’s $23.20 a day at a rate of $2.90 per hour. If your office allowed you to leave two hours earlier, you’d be able to shave $5.80 off your day rate and save $29 a week, or close to $1,500 a year.

5. Embrace (Spare) Change
You probably had a piggy bank when you were a kid. There’s no reason not to have one now. All that loose change in your pocket can add up if you get in the habit of putting in one place.

The Savings: If you deposit as little as $2 worth of loose change into a piggy bank each day, you would have $730 at the end of 12 months. But, even if you’re not the sort to hold on to those pennies, nickels and dimes for a year, you could still have as much as $60 a month to play with (except in February, when you’ll only have $56).



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