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Thursday, February 25, 2010
How To Save In A Difficult Economy

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By Anjali Kundra

These days, families are counting every penny. But too often, thanks to our constant on-the-go lifestyles, we don’t realize the amount of money that slips away unnoticed every day. In the end it all adds up. So what can you do to save costs without sacrificing the necessities of everyday modern life?

Trash to Treasure

We’ve all heard the saying. Kill two birds with one stone - get rid of your junk and make money while you do it! Enlist the whole family to turn the house upside down to see what they can give up. You probably don’t need to look very far. Simple de-cluttering and evaluation of what is really worth keeping will help you find enough items to make a significant earning, whether it is online, like eBay, or at your own garage sale.

  • TIP: If you plan on selling online, offer items collectively – for example, a grab-bag of the same sized clothes – it is often easier to sell similar items in bulk. By doing this, you save time because you can profit from one transaction, and thus have less shipping, customers, and fees to deal with.

Automobile Alternatives

There are plenty of ways for families to reduce transportation costs.

  • If you can bike to work, do it! Not only will you get a great work out, you’ll save on gas - which adds up to an estimated 36.5 cents per mile (according to the 2002 IRS mileage reimbursement rate).

  • If your kids are too small to get to school on a bike – or it’s too far away – consider car pooling. It saves gas, time, and the environment. Don’t forget that you can also car pool with colleagues to work.

  • For kids who are away at college, a car-sharing program is a great option. These types of programs are spreading to college campuses nationwide, and can help you both save.

  • Opt for public transport whenever possible, rather than pricey cabs and expensive city parking.

Bartering in the 21st Century

Bartering is fast becoming one of the hottest trends. Everyone, from consumers to large corporations, are getting together for swapping parties and service trading. More and more alternatives are popping up, making it possible to avoid costly goods and services.

  • For clothing, look-up your closest national consignment shop online. Not only can you find great deals, but you can sell your own clothes to the store for a quick buck. These stores have gently-used brand-name clothing, shoes, accessories and even books that you and your kids can enjoy.

  • Need a plumber or electrician? Check out the many barter service websites available online. There will most likely be someone online who could benefit from your services and help you at the same time.

Party at Home

  • Even though the average income has decreased, spending on entertainment and going out has remained constant. While fun shouldn’t be eliminated, there are ways to cut cost and still have a good time.

  • Skip the theater and choose to rent instead. Thanks to video rental programs such as Redbox, the cost of renting a movie can cost as little as $1 a night (or even less with programs like Netflix) – and that’s for the whole family! The average cost of a single movie ticket in the US is now around $10, and that's not including popcorn and candy.

  • Throw a casual get together. All you really need are your closest friends and some munchies. Make some fondue at home and buy sausage, vegetables, and bread for dipping. For the price of a couple drinks at your favorite watering hole, you could enjoy a night in with your family, friends, and delish bites.

Skip the Sugar

Do you spend at least $1 a day on the vending machine of your choice? Opt for water and buy your snacks at a grocery store – you will save calories and at least 365 bucks a year!

Cut Up Those Cards

Unless you can commit to pay off your entire balance each month, cut out your credit cards. While doing so, you should save up for emergencies. If that’s not possible, then save one of your credit cards for emergencies only. The average American is in about $9,000 worth of credit card debt – this can amount to over $1000 in interest. By paying cash or paying off your balance each cycle, you can save this money every month, and even more in the long run.

Small yet Significant

If you follow even some of these ambitions, you won’t notice a drastic change in your lifestyle, but rather in your bank account. With these small steps, you will stop throwing money away and start saving for something bigger.

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