Have More and Spend Less?

Economic woes and an increase in consumer prices have made sticking to a budget even more difficult for families across North America. People who were already struggling financially under the burden of debt and poor savings, may be feeling the pressure even more intensely now.

Here are six tips to help you have more and spend less.

1.Cut energy use
Simply sealing a home properly can help a homeowner eliminate 25% of their heating and cooling costs. Many utility service providers provide free or discounted energy audits. If this option isn’t available, clients can go the professional route, or do a self check using the steps found at energystat.gov.

Another way to prevent leaks is to add insulation, use caulk, spray foam and weather stripping to seal leaks around windows and doors, and in attics and basements. Plug devices with standby power, like TVs and stereos, into a power strip so they can be turned off all at once.

2.Spend less on groceries
With the cost of virtually everything at the grocery store going up, this is one area budget area clients can’t afford to ignore. Some have turned to coupon clipping (a household of four that uses them strategically can save 25% a year), but this is only effective if shoppers use them for items they already use or need.

Warehouse clubs can be a good source of cost effective purchases, but shoppers should weigh the benefits against potential negatives: the tendency to eat more because the food is going bad, and the potential for impulse shopping (many stores put electronics and other goodies out front).

Grocery shoppers can save up to $1,200 annually from cutting just half of their unplanned purchases.

3.Trim entertainment costs
When eating out, skip the drinks, and instead of ordering two entrees, order one appetizer and split a meal. Or dine out during breakfast or lunch, when the entrees are typically cheaper.

Movie tickets now top $10, so hit the matinees instead for discounted admission. Join the local theater’s loyalty club for freebies, get discount tickets in the local Entertainment Book, or head to the drive in, where tickets are usually cheaper.

4. Improve gas mileage
The easiest way to spend less on gas is to simply use less of it. Consolidate errands into one trip, or walk to the grocery store instead of driving. Speeding or braking sharply and frequent lane changes cuts fuel economy by 35%.4

5. Shave car insurance
Most insurers will shave prices for anti lock brakes, having an accident free record, taking a defensive driving course, or using the same insurer for both auto and home coverage – adding up to as much as 25% off a client’s premium. Shopping around for competitive quotes is a great way to potentially save.

6. Boost your income
Costs are rising across the board and a few extra dollars each month can go a long way to relieving the financial pressure of a weak economy and higher expenses. Business opportunities are great ways to do something enjoyable while padding the bank account.

While we can’t control rising costs, changing a few habits can help you hold onto more of your cash!

Mike Hassard Kelowna

1Money, July 2008
2Kiplinger’s, August 2008
3Money, July 2008
4Kiplinger’s, August 2008
5Money, July 2008
6Money, July 2007
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