24/7 MOMS

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Budgeting Tips for MOMS

Less Is More Budgeting Tips
by Kim Danger of Mommy Savers

Sometimes less really is more. Consider subtracting some things from your budget and adding both quality of life -- and some cash! Here's how:

Consider Cutting the Cable

Who doesn’t wish they had more time for activities like cooking, reading or spending one-on-one time with loved ones? Cut your expanded cable package back to basic, or cut the cable altogether to make room in your life for more family time and enriching pursuits. You’ll improve your quality of life and your bottom line at the same time.

TV junkies take heart: If you have an internet connection, you’ll still be able to watch recent episodes of many of your favorite shows online for free. Check out sites like hulu.com, fancast.com and joost.com.

So Long, Soft Drinks!

According to the National Soft Drink Association (NSDA), the average person consumes over 600 12-ounce soft drinks per year. While sodas and other designer beverages seem harmless enough, they consist of nothing more than empty calories. What’s the value in that?

Opt for water, which is healthy and totally free. Think bottled water is safer than tap? Think again. Not only does the EPA tightly regulate our tap water supply, many communities have opted to include fluoride in their water giving tap an advantage over bottled. Plus, by avoiding all those plastic bottles you’re being kind to the environment as well as your pocketbook. Add some ice and a twist of lemon and you’ll really feel like you’re living large.

Ditch the Landline

According to a recent survey commissioned by the mobile carrier Sprint, 18 percent of respondents do not have landline phones; another 13 percent are likely to give up their landlines soon. By my estimates, giving up your landline can save your family up to $50 per month.

If you do ditch the landline, look for a cell plan that works for everyone in your household. Bundle your wireless plans under one family plan where additional phones can be added at a nominal charge. Sprint estimates such savings can amount to between $240 and $1,000 a year on their family plans vs. other carriers. That’s not small change: $240 represents a car payment, a couple of week’s worth of groceries or savings for a college fund.

Credit Card Cutbacks

We’ve all heard the spiel before, “Would you like to save 20% today by applying for a store credit card?” That’s the line that reels us in and the special promotions and discounts are often what keeps us hooked. Even so, the cons of having multiple credit cards, especially store cards, often outweigh the pros. Interest rates tend to be higher with privately branded store cards than traditional credit cards, making the money paid out in excess interest quickly negate savings.

Consider cutting back on your credit cards in the coming year. Having all your records arrive on one statement and paying only one bill can help you simplify your financial life as well as help you save money.

The best way to do this is to pay off the balances of every card but one. However, that isn’t always an option if you carry more consumer debt than you can pay off in a month. Tackle the card with the highest interest rate first when paying them off. Instead of closing accounts when balances are paid off, simply cut up the card.

Limit Errand Running

The less you drive, the less you’ll spend on gas. That’s a no-brainer. However, staying out of the stores and planning your errands will help you limit impulse purchases, too. Think of it this way: how many times do you run into a store and purchase something that wasn’t on your list? Or, how often do you see something that you just can’t live without while you’re there? The more you’re exposed to the marketing machine the more you’ll be influenced by it.

Start out with a basic strategy such as planning your meals for the week and then creating a grocery list based on your menu. Plan according to what you have already as well as what’s on sale at the store and you’ll maximize savings even more.

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