Thursday, October 07, 2010

Money Smart Week Day 4: Save, Save, Save!

How to Stay Disciplined with Your Savings

  • Don't underestimate the importance of being organized: Have everything filed in a central location. You'll save time when you start hunting for paperwork.

  • Spending every dime and more? Start by cutting back on a few items per week and putting away that money. Pay yourself first. Just say no to spending more than you have.

  • Ask for direct deposit at work if they offer it – you’re saving money, and you don’t even see it. A savings plan at work that pays you “matching contribution” is the fastest way to save.

Top Saving Mistakes

  • Not modifying your spending habits compared to your budget.

  • Not taking advantage of your company’s match in a 401 (k) plan, or getting involved in a defined contribution plan.

  • Not appropriately/correctly allocating your assets to meet a specific goal or time horizon (diversification is important).

  • Not setting a specific dollar target or financial goal.

  • Not knowing how much you have, where you are spending your money, and how much you need to save for the future (failure to plan for retirement).

  • Cashing out your retirement plan – should roll over to an IRA or your new company’s retirement plan.

Save on Energy Costs:

  • Watch your Water: An average family spends between 10 and 25 percent of their utility bill on simply heating water. Reducing the amount of water you use will save your family money on three bills: Your water bill, sewer bill, and energy bill.

  • Turn off the Fan:

    If you currently leave the furnace fan running all day, change the setting on the thermostat to “auto.” This alone could save you between $100 and $500 dollars a year on your electric bill. The fan is not intended to run full time, and you shouldn’t need it to run 24/7 to be comfortable.

  • Fix Air Leaks:

    Sealing your home’s air leaks can reduce your energy bill by 5 and 20 percent a year. The attic, basement, and crawl spaces are usually responsible for the biggest air leaks, and fixing them can bring down your energy bill a lot!!

  • Seal Ducts:

    Forced-air heating and cooling systems use ducts to move the warmed or cooled air through the floors, ceilings, and walls of your home. These ducts are frequently made of sheet metal and are rarely airtight. In an average house, about 20 percent of the air that flows through the ducts is lost through leaks, holes, and poor connections. That means higher utility bills for you.

  • Don't Skimp on Appliances:

    Every appliance has two price tags: the sticker price you pay at the store, and the price you pay in utility bills to operate it. If you buy an appliance with a low sticker price, you can end up paying more on utility bills if it isn’t energy efficient. And that’s going to cost you more money in the long run.

United Way works to help residents achieve financial stability. Each day during Money Smart 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.

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