Trim Your Budget to Get Extra Cash

Budgets are tight today

A little trim saves a lot of money (photo: flickr.com)

A little trim saves a lot of money (photo: flickr.com)

Today, many families are struggling with tight budgets. Even in better economic times, it can be difficult to find ways to save money when there’s little or none left at the end of the month. But when you take a really close look at your spending habits, there’s almost always one more way to save a little money. Small, incremental savings really do add up.  Here are a few ideas to help you trim your budget and free up some extra cash:

Food and grocery expenses

Take a look at where your food dollars really go. Make a list of how frequently you eat in a restaurant or visit the coffee shop on the way to work. Perhaps there are extra impulsive buys at the grocery store that aren’t necessary. If you are purchasing brand name items, there are usually generic brands available that can offer you the same (or nearly the same) quality.  Eating at home more often and buying generic products can save you money every week.

Gauge your utility usage carefully

Utility bills are major expenses in most household budgets. Electricity and water are necessities; however, can you usually find ways to use them more efficiently. Are you switching off the computer when you’re not using it? Are you turning off the water at appropriate times? Are you turning down the heat when you’re not home?  These and other simple things can make a big difference in the bottom line.

Check your bank statement for ATM fees

When you look closely at your bank statement, you may find fees you’ve never noticed before. If you use the ATM frequently, you may be paying several dollars for each transaction. You can avoid this unnecessary expense, by use your debit card for a purchase and asking for cash back.  It doesn’t cost anything extra to get cash back from a purchase at major grocery, drug, and hardware stores.

Cut down on bank account fees

Another thing to look for on your bank statement is fees for services you don’t use.  Some bank accounts have monthly fees for multiple transactions, and others charge you for each one that you make. Count the number of transactions that you make, and find which route is cheaper for you.  It’s easy to find banks who offer accounts with free services.  Change banks if doing so will save you money.  At some banks, you can also save a few dollars by opting for online statements rather than paper statements

Stop using credit cards

If you owe a balance on your credit card, cut the card up and throw it away. If you have any extra cash that you would normally deposit into your bank account, use it to pay down your card instead. You may be paying hundreds of dollars in interest on this debt.  Make every effort to pay it down quickly.  Once you start to make a dent in the principal balance, you’ll notice the difference in your available cash each month.

Pay your bills on time

Paying your bills when they are due will save significant amounts each month.  When money is tight, late fees and other penalties make your struggles so much worse.  Cut back on other expenditures in whatever way you can and pay your monthly bills on time.  If you’ve incurring late fees, you can save hundreds of dollars each month – literally – by make timely payments your first priority.

Add up your extra cash!

When you get serious about cutting your expenditures, you’ll notice the savings right away.  It’s surprising how quickly these little changes can make such a big difference.

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