The following is a guest post by Mick Archard.
With gas prices rising and the job market and economy unstable, most people are doing whatever they can to save money. There are some big changes people can make, such as renting a cheaper apartment, or small changes such as brown bagging lunches instead of eating out. Even people with small incomes can usually find a way to save, and small savings add up. Even just $10 per month adds up to $120 per year. The savings add up even faster if they are earning interest in a savings or investment account.
Rent a Smaller Apartment
Renting an apartment is a great way to save money. Renter's insurance is usually way cheaper than homeowner's insurance. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported that rental insurance in Michigan costs an average of $164 year. This breaks down to just $13.67 per month. According to the Insurance Institute of Michigan, average premiums for homeowners insurance in MI were $797 in 2004. This breaks down to about $66.42 per month. If you are already renting, moving to a smaller place will usually result in lower monthly rent and lower utility costs because there is less space to heat and cool. There are many Edmonton apartments for rent that are in great locations and have low monthly rental fees.
Creating a budget is important whether the income level is $1,000 per month or $8,000 per month. Listing all monthly bills with amounts and due dates paints an accurate picture of your finances. Treating savings like a bill is important. There should be a line in the budget for savings, even if it's only $25 per month. Budgeting also gives consumers an idea of how much money they have available after the essential bills. It helps people to not overspend when they know there is only $75 a week in the budget for groceries, for example.
Pay Off Debt
According to Outlaw Finance freeing yourself of debt is one of the first steps you should take. Paying extra on your debts is will free up money faster and you will pay out less money in interest and fees. When one credit card is paid off, the payment you were making can be put toward the next debt to get it paid off sooner. Talking to credit card companies may not help, but it won't hurt. The companies may agree to lower interest rates or take less money than you owe in a lump sum payment. Credit card companies can be difficult to work with, but they don't want you to go bankrupt, so they will sometimes work with you on a payment plan.
Taking back items that still have tags on them or having a garage sale is a quick way to make money for debt payment. Many people are selling used items on online auction sites for extra money. It may not seem like much at first, but any payment that is more than the minimum usually goes straight to lowering the total amount owed.
Invest in a 401K
Having money taken out of each paycheck before it's deposited is a great way to save. This money is not part of the budget, so it's easier not to spend it on something else. Increasing 401k contributions with each raise adds even more money to savings without making a dent in your monthly budget. Many companies have a fund set aside to match the amount of money that employees deposit into their 401k accounts, up to a certain percentage. Talk to the human resources department of your company if you're unsure about a company match. This is free money that employees often turn down by not investing.
Saving money can be difficult, especially for people who need most of their income for necessary bills like rent, food, and gas. Setting a goal to save for something you really want makes it easier to save money. For example, people may be faced with the decision to buy a new pair of shoes or save that $75 toward the car they really want. Having pictures of the savings goal in prominent places will remind you what you're saving for. It's also helpful to break down the goal into manageable amounts per month. If the goal is to have $5,000 saved in a year from now, this breaks down to $416.67 per month or $96.15 per week.
Even small amounts of money add up. If someone spends $2 every week on movie rentals, this money adds up to $104 after one year. Switching to a cheaper cell phone or TV plan is another way to save money. Many people are not using the services they are paying for and can easily make cuts.
Eating out is one expense that most people can cut. Bringing lunch to work instead of buying lunch every day can save most people around $50 per week. Eating out is a social event for many people. Inviting friends over for dinner or drinks and rotating houses each month is a fun way to spend time with friends and save money. Soup and bread is a meal that feeds a large amount of people on a small budget. It's also nice to not have people you don't know interrupting the conversation of your group. Your house never closes, so friends can talk all night if they want to.