1. Pay it off.
Pay off your high-interest credit cards (or tranfer them to a lower rate credit card) to save money. Let's say you have a $2,000 balance at 18% interest. If your minimum payment is 2% of the balance due each month, it will take you 19 years to pay it off and you'll incur $3,862 in interest. But if you increase your monthly payments to 8% of the balance due--much more than the minimum--you'll reduce the payback time from 19 years to three years and nine months, and your interest costs now are only $433. You've just "saved" $3,429.
Small changes mean big savings on your utility bill:
- Properly insulate all ducts.
- Use programmable thermostats. Turn your thermostat back 10% to 15% for 8 hours each day during the winter to save as much as 10% a year on your energy bill.
- Use ceiling fans to reduce both cooling and heating bills.
3. So what's a buck?
Grab a calculator. Add up what you spend on so-called "little things" that end up being budget-busters:
- If you spend $1.00 a day on soda, that adds up to $365 a year.
- If you spend $2.75 a day on coffee, that's $1,003.75 a year.
- If you spend $6 every weekday on fast food, that's $1,560 a year.
- If you spend $6.20 a day on cigarettes, that's $2,263 a year.
4. Tune it up.
Regular automobile maintenance--including low-cost oil changes, filter changes, and tire rotation--can save big bucks by preventing costly repairs. Keep your engine tuned and your tires inflated to their proper pressure. On the road, stay within speed limits--gas mileage decreases when you drive faster than 60 MPH. Avoid "jackrabbit" starts, unnecessary idling, remove excess weight from the trunk, and combine errands.
5. Transfer it.
Pay yourself first--set up automatic transfers to your savings or money market account. Have your paycheck automatically deposited to your credit union account. Consider using online bill pay from your checking account for recurring payments like household bills, insurance premiums, automatic investment and savings plans, mortgage payments, auto loan payments, and charitable donations. Set up a Holiday Club Account to get ready for the next holiday season. Participate in your employer's tax-advantaged retirement plan.
It all adds up!