Monday, October 04, 2010

Money Smart Week: 10 tips that can save you money

October 2-8 is Money Smart Week WisconsinSM   an effort of Governor Doyle's Council on Financial Literacy to help educate Wisconsin residents about their financial literacy.

Marshfield Area United Way is joining in this effort!  United Way works to help residents work towards financial stability, and each day this week check out our blog, 
Facebook or Twitter to find links and tips about building your savings, sticking to your budget and everyday costs you can reduce.

Check back in 2011 for more details about a financial workshop in February.  If you have topics you’d like covered, suggest here If your business or organization is interested in a lunch hour financial workshop please call Sarah Krenn at 715-384-9992 or email here.
1. Write a list before you go shopping – and stick to it. Never go into a store without a list.  Make a careful plan of what you’ll buy before you go, then stick strictly to that list. Don’t put anything in the cart that’s not on the list, no matter how tempting, and you’ll come out of the store saving a bundle.

2. Plan your meals around your grocery store’s flyer. Instead of just planning your meals based on a cookbook or whatever you can dream up, plan all your meals around what’s on sale in your grocery store’s flyer. Look at the biggest sales, then plan meals based on those ingredients and what you have on hand, and you’ll find yourself with a much smaller food bill.

3. Call your credit card company and ask for a rate reduction.  Take any of your credit cards that are carrying a balance, flip them over, and call the number on the back. Tell them that you want an interest rate reduction or you’ll take your business elsewhere. If the first person you talk to won’t do it, ask to talk to a supervisor. If you have a $5,000 balance, even a 3% rate reduction saves you $150 a year.

4. Cut back on the convenience foods – fast foods, microwave meals, and so on.  Instead of eating fast food or just nuking some prepackaged food when you get home, try making some simple and healthy replacements that you can take with you. An hour’s worth of preparation one weekend can give you less expensive and more healthy meals and snacks.

5. Join a volunteer program.  It’s a great way to meet new people, get some exercise, and involve yourself in a positive project that can lift your spirit. It also comes without a cost to you and can provide a lot of entertainment and a fulfilling day when you’re in the right mindset.  Find local opportunities at the Volunteer Center.

6. Dig into your community calendar.  There are often tons of free events going on in the Marshfield area that you don’t even know about. Visit the library or chamber, search for events on Facebook or local online community calendars. You can often get free meals, free entertainment, and free stuff just by paying attention – even better, you’ll get in touch with what’s going on around you.

7. Create a visual reminder of your debt. Basically, just make a giant progress bar that starts with the amount of debt you have and ends with zero. Each time you pay down a little bit, fill in a little more of that progress bar. Keep this reminder in a place where you’ll see it often, and keep filling it in regularly. It keeps your eyes on the prize and leads you straight to debt freedom.

8. Hit the library – hard. Don’t look at a library as just a place to get old books. Look at it as a free place to do all sorts of things. I’ve used it to learn a foreign language, meet people, use the Internet anonymously, check out movies and CDs, grab local free newspapers, and keep up on community events. Best of all, it doesn’t cost a dime.

9. Always keep looking ahead.  Don’t let the mistakes of your past drag you down. Look ahead to the future. The choices you make now won’t affect the past – but they definitely will affect the future. Think back, and remember how the bad choices you made earlier are costing you now, and constantly remember to not make those mistakes now so that they don’t cost your future self.

10. Combine your cable, internet and telephone service.  Companies now offer combined services that not only cost less, but offer the convenience of a single bill. Called a Triple Play Package (Cable, Internet, and Phone), these combined service deals can save you a bundle.

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