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If, like many Americans, you find your money runs out before the month does, it may be because you don’t keep track of your spending. Budgeting helps, financial advisors assure us, but budget or no budget, there are ways to rein in your spending that may be less painful than you think:

  1. Plan meals ahead and shop with a list. Planning out your meals for the week and shopping with a list can rein in food costs big time. As tempting as store displays may be, resist the urge to splurge.
  2. Stop buying brand name products. When shopping, you may automatically reach for the branded products you know. But many generic brand products work just as well as their branded counterparts and cost considerably less. 
  3. Don’t buy bottled water. It’s a $20 billion industry that is costing you money. Buy a water filter, if you need to, and carry a reusable water bottle.
  4. Make your own coffee. Americans love their coffee, but if you’re spending $10 to $25 a week at the corner shop, you are spending $500 to more than $1,000 a year. Make your coffee at home, carry a reusable cup and save your cash.
  5. Consider buying used. Whether it’s a car, household goods or even furniture, you can often find great buys on gently used items and save big bucks.
  6. Check your 401(k) fees. Congratulations if you’re stocking away funds for retirement, but paying high fees can reduce your savings. Check to see how much is being taken off the top and make changes as needed. 
  7. Consolidate student loans. If you’re paying down multiple loans, consolidating them may save you money and/or extend the repayment period.
  8. Don’t pay unnecessary bank fees. If you’re paying monthly fees, shop around for cheaper banking services. Don’t use an ATM out of your network, and be sure you have fee-free checking.
  9. Turn down the thermostat. Save on heating costs. Put on a sweater and turn down the thermostat a few degrees, especially during the day and early evening. 
  10. Check your tires. According to the Department of Energy, you can save as much as 3 percent a year on gas when your tires are properly inflated. 

 

 

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