If you're trying to increase savings, remember that savings are directly tied to spending - the less you spend, the more you have to save. Some tips to consider to help get your spending under control include:
Analyze your spending practices for a month. Are you surprised by how much you spend on dining out, groceries, entertainment, or clothing? Give serious thought to your purchasing patterns, looking for ways to reduce spending. Clean out your closet and really assess whether you need more clothes. Cut back on how often you eat out or at least dine at less expensive restaurants. Rent a movie instead of going to a theater. Make a list before grocery shopping and don't deviate from it. Look for coupons and sales before shopping.
Go over major expenditures as well. When was the last time you comparison shopped your auto or homeowners insurance? Have you checked mortgage rates recently to see if you should refinance? Have you reviewed strategies to reduce your income taxes?
Make a spending plan and put it in writing. Budget for all major expenditures and resolve not to purchase items that aren't in the budget. Monitor your actual spending against your budget during the year to make sure you are staying on track.
Throw out your credit cards (or at least hide them for a while). Most people find it more difficult to spend cash than to charge a purchase. So, for the next couple of months, only purchase items with cash.
Only purchase items over a fairly low dollar amount on your second shopping trip. How often have you purchased something on impulse, only to realize when you got home that you really didn't need it? To control those impulses, compare price and value on your first shopping trip. Then go home, think about whether you really need the item, and purchase it on another trip.
Think carefully before making major purchases. Often, upkeep and maintenance will add to your costs. Do you really need a motorcycle, boat, recreational vehicle, or vacation home? Consider a less expensive car or a used car. Keep your car for four or five years instead of getting a new one every two or three years.
Figure out the maximum amount you can afford for a house and then buy one substantially less expensive than that. Not only will you save on your mortgage payment, other costs associated with owning a home will be lower. Living well within your means is one of the best ways to ensure you have money left over for saving.
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