Bringing Home the Bacon

Saving money can be a difficult task. After paying bills, buying nutritious organic food and getting a full tank of gas, what’s left? Sigh. And yet according to MSN Money, we shouldn’t blame our savings shortfalls on our measly pay stubs. In fact, economists claim that how much you save has little to do with your income. It has more to do with getting all your ducks in order along with attitude and lifestyle. If you want to save, you have to be willing to take the necessary measures. Are you willing to fill the piggy? If so, here are five ways to make you oink all the way to the bank.

Do the Math
The truth is many people don’t have a clue about their financial reality. I, for instance, cringe at the thought of an Excel sheet or finding out how much I make versus how much I spend. Yikes.

Take the plunge. Educate yourself. Sit down with a glass of vino and all your monthly bills/statements to figure out your income and your spending — including mileage. Tracking your expenses has two benefits, states TaxMama Eva Rosenberg, MBA, and author of Small Business Taxes Made Easy. “One, you’ll see just what you can do to avoid spending wastefully. Two, you’ll increase your tax deductions.”

Do you like the figures you see? If not, you’ll need to create a plan for changing it. Meanwhile, ask yourself these questions: Who am I? How do I want to live? How do I want to use my money? How can I make the best use of my money?

Budget, budget, budget!
Now comes the hard part. “Unplanned spending is like an unplanned pregnancy. It’s fun and unexpected but it’s also expensive,” says Boyce Watkins, Finance Professor at Syracuse University author of Financial Lovemaking 101 – Merging assets with your partner in ways that feel good. The analogy may be a little drastic, yet nonetheless Watkins suggests budgeting the amount of money you want to spend for the day and leaving the credit cards at home. Also, figure out what makes you overspend. Do you become a sucker for a new pair of shoes every time you feel sad? Do you spend your all your money at Whole Foods (or as my friend calls it Whole Paycheck)? Are you an overall spendaholic? What sets you off and drives you to shop?

Organize Your Way to Financial Freedom
Organization saves money. Studies show that the average person wastes an hour a day searching through papers due to disorder. “If you get that hour a day back think of the money you have saved. Use your time productively,” says Dana Korey, professional organizer and founder of Away With Clutter, ‘a swat team of professional organizers that change your space and life in 24 hours.’ Korey also suggests organizing your time and planning your errands so that you don’t waste gas money driving all over town. Work with your schedule not against it.

Another tip is to go sift through your stuff. Lots of folks don’t really know what they actually own and keep on buying the same things over and over again, adds Korey. “It’s a total waste of money to keep buying batteries at Costco when you have boxes tucked away in random drawers that you can’t find.”

Low-Cost Tips that are Worth A lot
There are tons of little things you can do to save moolah. For instance:

1) Swap stuff with friends. Instead of buying new things and spending money– plan a swap-your-stuff-party. It’s a win-win situation (unless of course your friends have bad taste).

2) Pack your own lunch. Or as TaxMama Eva Rosenberg suggests, use dine out/entertainment coupon books. Sure, they’re not cool – but they can save you half the cost of your eating out, movies, theaters, sporting events, travel, museums… and other things you’re already doing.

3) Use the public library instead of working in really expensive coffee bars. They have books, audios, videos and even Internet. Not only will you save money, but you might meet even meet a sexy bookworm.

4) Find another source of income – join a focus group, housesit, consult, do whatever it takes to increase your income streams. Allocate that extra money toward petty cash spending and leave your paycheck alone.

Saving money is a state of mind. First, you have to believe that you can do it. And then you have to renounce spending. If you remember this, you’ll be on your way to Ka-Ching in no time.

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