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Don’t Be A Victim: 5 Tips To Avoid Holiday Credit Debt

‘Tis the season of giving, as well as going overboard with credit card debt. It’s natural to want to provide a great Christmas for your friends and family but it’s often easy to stack up on credit card debt as you continue to purchase gifts for your loved ones. We often put our finances on the backburner during the holiday season and in a survey by CreditDonkey.com suggests that 37% of consumers use their credit card to finance their holiday spending. Rather than spiraling into debt and months of repayment, follow the following five tips to keep tabs on your holiday spending this year.

Christmas Stress

 1.    Buy a little at a time

Rather than getting all your shopping done the week before Christmas, try to buy a few items at a time. This will allow you to keep track of your spending better, as well as allow you to set a budget. It’s easy to get carried away during a single, large shopping spree and you may end up spending more than you can afford. Buy a little at a time so you can pay it off immediately during each paycheck period.

2.    Set a budget

Lay out a plan that is affordable for you and set a budget for each person on your list. Whether you put together an excel sheet or use a pen, paper, and calculator, keep the list up-to-date whenever you purchase an item. Be sure to include things like taxes and shipping costs that could end up costing you a good amount of money.

3.    Be realistic

It’s important to be realistic about what you can give your loved ones. Sure, it’d be great to buy your child the newest Xbox console but is it realistic to spend $400 on a toy? Don’t buy things you can’t afford and be honest with yourself about what’s affordable for you and what is not. Thoughtful gifts are much more appreciated than expensive ones.

4.    Think of credit cards as cash

Think of your credit card as cash, or better yet, use your debit card. Don’t purchase more than you can pay back in a single pay period. Making purchases that cannot be paid back immediately are what contribute to the majority of credit card debt.

5.    Use a cash rewards program

A large amount of credit cards offer a rewards program where you get cash and other items of your choice as you continue to use and pay off your card. This is helpful for the holidays for some quick cash once you gather enough points.

Keep in mind that there are unique ways to make some extra cash for the holidays, such as freelancing, odd jobs, or maybe even considering pre-settlement loans if you’re involved in a lawsuit. Don’t let the holidays become a stressful time of the year due to finances. Avoid credit card debt with the above tips and keep your options open in different ways to make some fast cash in time for the holidays.

Paul is a writer currently residing in New Jersey with his wife and one child. When he’s not writing or blogging, he enjoys spending time with his family, a good game of golf, reading, and sailing.

Infographic: Avoiding the George Costanza Wallet: Tips and Tricks to Keep Your Wallet Organized

Let’s face it, people tend to neglect their wallets. In a matter of minutes they can become huge, overstuffed nuisances that sit in your back pocket with pieces of paper you no longer need. Have you ever seen pants with a clear, square outline on a back pocket? Yeah, that’s probably the result of that wallet that sits there for the majority of your day. In fact, these eyesores have actually been linked to health issues. More and more often, people who carry heavy and bulky wallets report the gradual onset of uncomfortable back pain that radiates throughout the back, hips and even legs. This George Costanza wallet syndrome is visible everywhere, but it can certainly be avoided! Anything from changes in the material of your wallet, to a habit of throwing old receipts away can help! Read on for more tips and tricks on managing your wallet. You’ll be glad you slimmed down!

Founded in 1995, Allett is the producer of the world’s thinnest wallet.  Our wallets are for the everyday user, for the avid traveler, for an active lifestyle, and even for the eco-minded.  To learn more about us, our products, or our eco-friendly alternatives, please visit all-ett.com.

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Tips For Paying Off Debt

debt

Having financial debt can be a heavy burden and if not dealt with quickly, then it can destroy your credit and quality of life. Don’t despair yet though, your debt can be paid off and taken care of sooner then you think. And it’s not as difficult to overcome as you may have been lead to believe. Speaking from experience if failure and success, I’ve listed a few tips that should help you regain control of your finances.

1. Budget

 First things first. Figure out the cost of living for a month (don’t be afraid to overestimate), figure out what your take home pay is (after taxes) and calculate all of your debt. Once you’ve figured out all these expenses you can start planning a debt reduction plan.

To help with your budget, go through your bills and receipts and see where you can make cuts. I’ve found that when it comes to internet, cable and phone bills, a lot of time there are promotionals or some sort of coupons or discounts that you will be eligible for. Don’t be afraid to ask! It could save a lot of money in the end.

2. Action Plan

 Next you’re going to want to lay out all your debt out in front of you. Which ever debt is most, is the one that you’re going to want to eradicate first (make sure to take into account debts with high interest rates). The best way that I’ve found to do this is to:

(a)Pay the minimum payment to all your other debts first, but when it comes to your biggest debt, use the money left over to pay as much as you can toward this one. Make sure that it’s more than  the minimum payment due. (b) Once you’ve paid off the most expensive debt then use the money you were using to pay that debt and put it toward the second most expensive debt. Continue paying this same amount even when you get to third and fourth most expensive. Basically you don’t want to pay a lesser amount just because the debt is less. You can pay off all your debts much faster this way. This is a great strategy for paying off debt because you end up paying a larger amount each time you get to a new debt.

 3. Make it Easy

 It’s not easy to budget or sacrifice all your paycheck to bills and debt. So, you need to make it easy for yourself to do so. I suggest making your payments automated so that every month when your bills come in you don’t have to get out the calculator and sort out what you need to be paying to what and who. This will stress you out and you’ll most likely go back to the bad habit of paying the minimum to your big bills and never gain any momentum.

 Remember, don’t fear your debt, conqueror it with discipline and and financial freedom as your motivation. I have no doubt that if you implement these ideas into your finances, you’ll overcome your debt and have freedom to spend your money how you want to spend it.

 

Henery Hernandez is a financial blogger for cheapchecksplus.com. You can find him on google plus.

 

Top Story – 2 Tips To Quickly Increase Your Credit Score From 650 To Above 700

Advanced Tips to Improve Your Credit Score Fast

Do you ever want to buy a house, rent an apartment, lease or buy a car or take out a loan to grow a business?   If you want to do any of that, you will need to have a high credit score.  If you have a low credit score you may get approved for credit, but you will end up paying astronomically high interest and that is like throwing money in the garbage.

When a person has a 750 FICO Score, they will pay much less interest on purchases made on  credit, when compared to the person that has a 650 FICO Score.

Are you ready to take your credit score to the next level? We believe the following tips when practiced, will help to raise your FICO Score from the 650 range, to higher than 700.

We are about to teach you advanced tips that most credit experts forget to talk about.  If you are looking to learn more basic credit tips, then start by reading “My Fico”.

1.  Pay off your entire balance each month when the bill arrives and work to steadily increase your credit limits over time.  This not only saves you money in interest, but will also help to raise your credit score. Most people that are practicing good credit are taught to keep their balance below 30% of what their limit is, but by paying your balance off in full each month, this will make a big difference.

After 8-12 months of using your cards every month, and then paying off your entire balance, if you ask for a credit line increase at this point, you will most likely be approved for one.

The idea is to build credit and not debt.  To do this you need for creditors to increase your credit limits.  Most people forget to focus on this important aspect when trying to raise their credit score. Try practicing this action and your credit score will rise.

Increase your credit limits when you can.  Don’t try to often, but again after 8-12 months of having perfect spending and payment patterns, now would be the perfect time to request for the increase.  Creditors will sometimes increase your credit limit without you even having to ask them, but often you will need to make the request. As your limits are raised, your credit score will increase.

2.  Get added as a joint account holder to a credit card. Make sure the card you are being added to has a low balance and a high credit limit.  Obviously do not get added to a maxed out credit card.  This trick will allow you to piggy back on that person’s perfect payment history and this will help to boost your credit score.  This is a great tip for college students.

A person must stay consistent with practicing good credit habits, and not just do it for a month or even a year.  This is like going to the gym and it should be incorporated into your everyday schedule in your life.

Messing up can cost you years of having to struggle with your credit.

So don’t mess up once you are on the right track. 

  • Have reminders to pay your bills on time
  • Open your mail
  • Check that your insurance is paying for medical visits
  • Don’t spend what you can’t afford
  • Don’t apply for too many wonderful offers

On the other hand, if you can barely afford to pay minimum payments on high maxed out credit card debt, then you probably have other problems that you need to address before worrying about your credit score.

 

Ruth Adorno is the Manager at Golden Financial Services where debt relief, small business solutions and credit options are provided.  Golden Financial Services is an A+ Rated Company that was created in 2004 and started out as a debt settlement company.

Top Story: Attention Ladies – 5 Ways Men Spot Gold Diggers

gold-digger-magnet

The dating game is similar to a land full of land mines. It’s very tough to navigate. There are serial daters, the crazies, the needy women and the most hated of them all, the gold diggers. Gold diggers are experts in exploiting wealthy, lonely hearts. They will stay with you as long as you give them money and buy expensive gifts. Below are some few tips on how to spot gold digger.

1. Deep and early interest in your portfolio
A long term relationship means depending on each other in so many ways. It’s okay if someone is concerned about our financial stability. However the greatest difference between an honest partner and a gold digger is their interest in your finances. Gold diggers may not directly ask the numbers on your paycheck, but they will ask you indirect questions such as the price of your watch, the type of car you drive, where you live and the size of your house. The main intention of a gold digger is to figure out your net worth, if you don’t meet her financial target, she will leave you. It’s one thing to be interested in your career but a totally different issue when someone wants to know how fat your bank account is.

2. Never offers to pay the bill
It’s gentlemanly to pay bills for most dates; however, a decent woman will offer to split the cost every now and then. If you find yourself always paying, them something is not right. If your partner wants to be eat out at the classic, expensive restaurants and can’t even pay for it then you need to watch out. Offering to pay never comes naturally in a gold digger.

3. Requests for money
It’s perfectly acceptable if a long-term partner asks for a little financial help during tough times. However, if someone starts asking for money early in a relationship, then this is a red flag. Gold diggers will give hints that they are experiencing financial problems, they might even ask for a loan to cover a certain problem. Such a person makes poor financial decisions; you will find her struggling to pay rent yet she have a new car with luxury features, or sometimes she will wear expensive clothes and jewelry while her credit card is waxed out.

4. Look for a sense of entitlement
These types of people have a feeling that they deserve to be treated well; this includes knowing you are willing to send a lot of money on them. They always have reasons to justify their feelings; she will think that just because she had a bad childhood, then she deserves to be happy and too bad her happiness revolves around money.

5. Pay before you play
Have ever found out that she is willing to be close to you after buying her something nice? This is a common scenario with most gold diggers; in order to get close to such a person, you have to compensate. If you don’t shower her with all the gifts she wants, chances are high she will shut down all chances for intimacy or getting close. You may even get accused of not appreciating her or not treating her right, while all she wants is the expensive dinners, designer clothes, jewelry and many more.

A gold digger’s mind is selfish and everything makes sense when there is money . If you ask such a person a simple question such as the best gift she has ever had, she will tell of something expensive but not anything unique and personal. The questions and dreams they have can definitely give you a hint if they are after your money or heart. An honest person will take time to know you and spend quality time with you, while a gold digger will not care about you at all. Therefore, take your time and learn more about her, am sure you don’t want a heart break.

Mike is a passionate and wealthy blogger who has met many gold diggers in his lifetime.

 

7 Smart Ways To Spend Your Tax Refund

Tax season means a big refund check is just around the corner for many people. If you have not thought about what you will use it for, consider your wisest choices. It can be tempting to think of the refund as play money – you may want to spend it on entertainment and other things that bring short-term pleasure. If you choose wisely, however, you will invest most of it in things that bring more fulfilling, long-term results.

Put it in Savings

Many households have little to no savings for a rainy day. You never know when something could happen that causes a loss of income. Illness, injury, natural disaster or countless other emergencies can happen at any time. If you do not already have a large emergency fund, consider placing your refund in a new savings account.

Pay Down Credit Cards

Credit card debt quickly snowballs, especially on cards with high interest rates. Ease your mind and your wallet by paying some of these down with your tax refund.

Invest in Savings Bonds

U.S. Savings bonds are a safe investment that puts your money to work for you. Since you cannot cash them in for at least a year, you will not be able to take the money out for frivolous things. Meanwhile, it will collect interest.

Invest in Home Improvements

While your tax refund may not be enough to cover extensive remodeling, you can still use the money to make minor, yet important, changes. Homeowners lose a lot of money each year through home energy costs. These costs can be reduced through improvements such as added insulation, thermal windows or thermal window shades, furnace upgrades, and energy efficient lighting. You could also purchase air purifiers and other items to improve the health and safety of your home’s interior.

Catch up on Mortgage Payments

Hard times can happen to anyone. If you are behind on your mortgage your tax refund can be used to help you catch up. While you are dealing with your mortgage, you may also consider discussing your options, such as refinancing. Whether it is with a mortgage company in NJ, or wherever else you live within the United States, tax refund time is a good time to connect and discuss ways to create more financial ease.

Buy New Clothes

If your finances are in good shape, use the tax refund to invest in a few clothing items. Clothes are a necessity – they are not frivolous items, unless you buy clothes that will go out of style in a season. Spend a little extra on high-quality clothes with long-lasting style.

Create a Holiday Fund

Holiday funds are gaining popularity as people look for ways to reduce personal debt. Open a savings account that you will use exclusively for buying holiday gifts. The tax refund can be your first deposit, and then you can decide how much you will add weekly or monthly to the account. When the holidays roll back around, that money will have collected some interest. Instead of accumulating a lot of credit card debt, you will be able to pay for gifts upfront and relax.

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Esther Curtis is a blogger for a mortgage company in New Jersey. She enjoys writing about personal finances and giving advice to people on how to spend their money wisely.

5 Ways For Single Parents To Save Money

One of the hardest aspects of being a single parent is balancing the household budget, and making sure your family do not go without. This is never an easy situation to deal with and with the current economic climate it is trickier than ever.

There are several ways in which you can save money, none of them are difficult to implement, and when your bank balance is still in the black at the end of the month you will be extremely glad that you did.

Making a Budget and Sticking to it

This doesn’t sound a lot of fun, and in fairness it isn’t, but if you want to make sure your money lasts throughout the month then it is essential.

Budget

List everything that you pay out and compare it with what you have coming in. Add absolutely everything, as those who complain that they don’t know where there money has gone will have invariably missed things off, such as the coffee on the way to work etc. Then look at where you can make savings to make the end total look a lot healthier.

Saving for a Special Treat

Those tins you can buy from a pound shop that have to be opened with a can opener are a great way of saving for a holiday, Christmas, days out etc. Even saving a few 50 pence’s will quickly add up, and the fact you can’t get at it easily will make it easier to save.

Coins

Shop Around

If you have access to the Internet shop around to make sure you have the best deal available for broadband, television, phone, gas, electric etc.

Many stick with current providers out of habit and are unaware than by switching they can get a much better deal. Reviewing your TV and broadband package is another good way to save, as if you are paying for what you don’t watch or use you should change your package accordingly.

Make it Yourself

Even if you aren’t the greatest cook in the world you will save yourself a lot of money by cooking fresh meals instead of relying on frozen stuff, and the nutritional benefits speak for themselves. From baking your own bread to making pans of soup, there are many ways you can save money by making your own food, and the fact that you know exactly what is going into it means you can relax in the knowledge that you are giving your children the best diet possible.

Credit Cards

Switching your credit card balance to one that offer a period of interest free credit is a common way of saving money, and one which everyone should consider. The same goes for those bank accounts that have a monthly cost and include various perks such as travel and mobile phone insurance. If you pay for all these things separately it is worth looking at opening one of these accounts so they are all taken care of with one small monthly payments as opposed to several direct debits.

 

By Leila El-Dean of MrBreadmaker. We love home baking and want to convert the nation into home bakers!

Ways to Give Back Without Spending Any Money

Just about everyone wants to give a little something to those in need.  Whether it is donating to a good cause that serves the poor, wildlife, shelters, or medical research, or donating goods and services to others who are needy, giving back is good for the soul and can make you feel wonderful, knowing that your actions and contributions have helped make someone else’s life better.

Not everyone can afford to make donations on a regular basis, however.  As it becomes increasingly difficult to afford housing and necessities in today’s economy, more people are scaling back on their expenses and their donations.  Whereas in years past they may have been able to make small or large donations to worthy causes, nowadays, it may not be possible at all.  This is evident in the non-profit sector’s annual reports, where it is clear that the donations they have been receiving have dwindled, keeping them from fulfilling their own goals.

Nevertheless, there are still ways you can give back, even in times when your wallet may be too tight to donate money.

Give Away Your Old Stuff

From used clothes to books, computers, and electronics, there are many organizations out there that collect these valuable items as donations and then give them out to those in need.  Even if your used equipment is damaged or old, it can be refurbished and then given away or recycled to keep the toxic elements found in electronics out of the environment.  And if you have old clothes that do not fit you anymore, or the style just does not appeal to you anymore, dropping it off at any one of the many non-profits that collect clothing for people in need at home and abroad is a great way to keep the clothes out of the trash and in hands that can make good use of them.  Shoes, too, can be given away, but they usually should be in decent condition in order to be worn properly.

Charity Credit Cards

There are several credit cards available that will donate a portion of the sales you charge.  In this way, every time you make a purchase, you are also making a donation to a worthy cause of your choice.  If there is a particular organization that you would love to contribute to, check out their website for ways to donate and to see if they offer a special credit card that will donate a percentage of sales to the charity.  You do not need to pay anything at all, but rather simply use your credit card anywhere you shop, whether in stores or online, and you have the peace of mind of knowing that your money is also working towards a great cause.

Volunteer

Many non-profits do not need money as much as they need manpower.  Volunteering for an organization whose work you admire will not only enable you to experience new things and meet great new people, but it will also allow the organization to continue its important mission, thanks to people like you who are willing to help out.

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Article Provided By: You do not need to feel helpless if you cannot afford to donate to your favourite charity.  Instead, donate supplies, volunteer your time, or sign up for charity credit cards to help out.

8 Easy Ways To Improve Your Credit Score

1. Request a Copy of Your Credit Report 

The simplest way to start this process is to request a copy of your credit report. This report will give you a lot of insight into your overall financial health. Peruse this document closely for errors that can affect your credit score. 

2. Refrain from Shopping with Credit Cards 

In determining your credit score, the ratio of your credit limit and credit card balances plays a major role. This ratio can be reduced by avoiding using your credit cards. Instead, reduce spending and use cash as often as you can so that you can see a decrease in your credit card balance. 

3. Overdue Balances Need to Be Paid 

Your credit score is also dependent on your payment history, which is around 35% of the credit score. Wherever possible, pay off all overdue balances to prevent a history of past due payments on your credit report. Either pay off the total balance or consolidate the overdue accounts by transferring the balances. 

4. Do Not Open Several Credit Card Accounts 

Having several credit card accounts can have a negative effect on your credit score and may drop your average credit age. Instead of getting new credit cards, pay attention to the cards that you have and work hard to pay them on time. If your credit score is low, use one secured card to make purchases that require a credit card. 

5. Avoid Closing Credit Card Accounts 

While some people feel that closing credit cards can help a poor credit score, in most cases, it actually decreases the credit score. It is important not to close the few cards that you have and especially the cards that have available credit or a balance. Also, do not close your oldest credit card account. 

6. Use Automatic Payment Reminders 

Consider what caused the problems with your credit score. If your credit score dipped because of late payments, then it is best to use payment reminders. Everyone today has tight schedules and it is possible for you to forget to make a payment. Use your phone or email to send yourself a reminder when payments are due. You can also utilize the calendar on your phone or computer to set up a recurring notification that payments need to be made. 

7. Discuss the Situation with Creditors 

Rather than try to face the situation on your own, consider getting help from your creditors. While you may feel intimidated, many people are surprised to learn that creditors are willing to negotiate instead of immediately pursuing legal action. 

8. Chat with a Professional to Create an Action Plan 

If you have tried all of the above techniques but you are still not happy with your credit score, then it is time to get professional help. There are plenty of free credit counseling agencies that can create a plan of action and help you to implement it so that eventually your credit score will improve.

Author Bio: Jeff Adcock is the president of Veritrans Merchant Services which is a  merchant account and credit card processing company headquartered in Houston TX.

Baby Step Your Way Out of Bad Situations

Whether you’re in a tough financial situation, a problematic situation at work, or a sticky situation in your relationship, the best way to get out of it is to take small steps in the right direction. Often times, if you attempt to get out of a bad situation all at once, you simply end up making rash decisions that land you right back in the middle of a bad situation. By taking smaller steps, though, you can slowly but surely fix the problem.

A Financial Example

One example would be a situation where you were in a load of credit card debt. The Federal Reserve says that personal revolving debt is increasing at a rate of about 10% annually, so this is not an uncommon situation. If you have more credit card debt than you can possibly handle, what sorts of baby steps would you take to get out of the situation?

1. Assess the situation

Your first step in any bad situation is to take an honest assessment of where you are. In this situation, you’d want to figure out why you were in so much debt in the first place and what you needed to do to stop running up credit card debt. Then, you’d need to get the numbers. Read up on credit card reviews such as our Discover Student card review and see if that’s an option.  Figure out exactly how much debt do you have? What are the interest rates on your credit cards? What are your minimum payments?

2. Keep it from getting worse

Before you can help a situation get better, you need to keep it from getting worse. Ashyia Hill from CreditDonkey says, in the world of credit card debt, this means you need to find a way to stop adding to the debt. Credit card debt can be a good thing when used wisely, but if you continue to pile onto your debt while making the minimum payments, you’ll never get out of your credit card debt. In this situation, writing a budget that allows you to live within your means – even if that means making serious cutbacks – is a good idea.

3. Take steps to set the situation right

With a situation where there is serious credit card debt, you need to focus on paying down the debt as quickly as possible. One good option for many consumers is to do balance transfer, putting the high-interest debt on one card onto another, lower interest card. This can allow you to make the same monthly payments but to make more headway in paying off the debt because you are paying less money each month towards interest. If you can’t possibly make the minimum payments right now, it allows you to lower your minimum payments to a more reasonable rate.

4. Ask for help if necessary

As with anything else, getting out of a bad financial situation may require some help. Maybe you need to talk to someone about how to create a workable budget, or maybe you need some credit counseling to help you figure out where to go next. For your situation, help may be as simple as having a buddy hold you accountable to your budget and make sure you aren’t charging more on your credit cards. Sometimes you need a hand to get out of a bad situation!

Applying it to other areas of life

Getting out of a bad financial situation isn’t that much different from getting out of a bad situation in a relationship or job. The first step is to always pinpoint what the problem is. Do you struggle to even enjoy what you’re doing? Are fights about money or sex causing problems in your relationship in general? Figure out what is causing the issue so that you can address the root of the problem, rather than just the symptoms.

The next thing you can do is to take measures to keep the situation from getting any worse. This may mean cutting off contact with people who are causing the situation to get worse, or it may mean working to keep relationships on an even keel, even if they aren’t getting better. After you learn to keep things from backsliding, you can then take steps to improve things. Asking for help in any bad situation is never a bad idea, either, even if you are simply asking for the advice of a neutral third party.

Whether you’re in a bad situation financially, professionally, or personally, taking baby steps to get out of the situation is the best thing you do. Rather than trying to fix the situation all at once by taking drastic measures, take your time to assess the situation and take small, smart steps to help yourself get out of it.

10 Tips to Save Money in the New Year

Face it, we all wish that money grew on trees, but to our dismay, we know that’s not the case. You work hard for the money you make, so why waste it when you don’t even realize how much you’re spending? Here are 10 money-saving tips to help your personal finance situation in the new year!

1.) Walk or ride the bus.

How much money are you currently spending travelling to and from work, the grocery store, the bank, etc.? How much of that could you cut out just by walking or taking the bus? If you’re lucky enough to live in the heart of a major city, this solution is simple: WALK! It’s good to get outside and get in some exercise, so your mind, body and wallet will all thank you for making this simple change. If you’re not in a city, most areas now offer some seriously discounted public transportation. Don’t get the wrong impression from this – many places now offer luxury buses that feature more comfortable seating and other amenities.

2.) Clip coupons.

Wow, the amount of money that goes into weekly grocery shopping can get up there in digits, so why not save yourself a little dough at the supermarket? You can clip coupons the old-fashioned way by rounding up the Sunday paper and tearing them out, or check out the more tech-friendly way to find coupons, and use an online coupon site. Coupons.com is a great resource. Just click and print, and you’re on your way to savings!

3.) Pack your own food to bring to work.

Now that you’ve saved so much money at the grocery store, don’t let all that food go to waste! Ditch the mid-afternoon trips to the sandwich shop down the street for a $9 sandwich and chips and start packing what you’ve already brought. Don’t have time in the morning to make a lunch to bring to work? That’s OK. Just prepare everything the night before. Pack it all into a lunch pack (bring out the child in you with a fun lunchbox – you’ll feel like an elementary school student again!) and you’ll be on your way without missing a beat. You also may find that you end up eating healthier when you bring your own food (again, helping the wallet and the body!)

4.) Get rid of your credit card.

I know, the horror. You can’t imagine life without your credit card. Trust me, it can happen. Work on paying it down until you have a $0 balance, and then cut it up, or keep it hidden away in the back of your wallet for emergency situations only (i.e., you’re lost in a foreign country with no money and can’t get home – when I say emergencies, I mean emergencies). Credit card fees and interest rates can increase rapidly over time, so the longer you wait, the more you’ll end up paying on these small plastic pieces of evil.

5.) Make saving a game or contest.

Live with a roommate, spouse, or significant other? Help them get into the saving mood, too, by making it a game or competition. Even get family members involved. See who can save the most money on a monthly basis, and even come up with a rewards program for the winner each month. Maybe the person who saves the least has to clean the person who saves the most’s house or apartment once a week for the entire month. That will motivate you to get saving!

6.) Find fun things to do that don’t cost money.

We all know that some of the best “hobbies” can cost the most money. Even going to the bar for happy hour after work, going to dinner with a friend, going to the movies and going shopping can all add up to pretty significant amounts. The answer: find things to do that don’t cost money! Go for a walk or pack a picnic and take it to the park. Go for a hike. If you have to go to happy hour with a friend, just sip on a glass of water or the drink special of the night and milk it for the entire night. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself and the company of your friends and family without dropping any big moolah.

7.) Turn off all electronics before you leave your house.

This one sounds like a tiny detail, but you’d be surprised at how much money you waste on your electric bill to keep unnecessary appliances running in your home while you’re away. Every day when you walk out your door, make sure all of the lights are turned off, turn down the thermostat if you have one, power your computer down completely, and make sure ceiling fans are off. It’s no big deal to turn all of these things back on when you get home. Do yourself a favor and take the 5 minutes to check over your house and make sure everything is off before you leave, and you’ll start to be able to watch your electric bill steadily decrease. Plus, it’s better for the environment!

8.) Skip the spa.

OK ladies, this one’s for you. That $100 you spend on a 60-minute massage twice a month? A little over the top. If you insist on relaxing in this way (and let’s admit, going to the spa is a great way to destress), turn your home into a spa. Invest the $20 into buying some candles and aromatherapy products for yourself, draw yourself a nice hot bath with some relaxing bath salts, and let yourself melt into the relaxation. Turn on some soothing music. Ask your significant other to give you a massage. You can even find recipes online for do-it-yourself facials and skin treatments that are easy to make at home. Make a day of it – you’ll forget that you’re at home and not the spa!

9.) Work out at home.

Cancel your gym membership. Yup, you heard me. No offense to you big-name conglomerate gyms out there, but people, you’re wasting your money there. Don’t you have some floor space at home? That’s all you really need to get in a great workout. Do some research on home workout programs that are out there, find one you like, and spend your money investing in one of those programs instead of a gym membership. If you buy a program, you can do the workouts over and over again for the entire year if you want, all in the comfort of your own home. Or, just find a free program online. Workout videos, advice and exercises are easy to find on the great and vast Web. Get to work looking for some!

10.) Hit the library.

Believe it or not, the library in your town probably has a great selection of books, CDs, DVDs and even magazines. Instead of going to the movie store to rent your next DVD, simply check it out at your library. It’s as easy as that.

It’s easy to save some money this year, as long as set a goal for yourself, remain focused, and try to follow some of these simple tips. You have to admit, it doesn’t sound as hard as you thought it might be! So give a few of these a try and watch your bank account flourish!

Megan is a freelance writer who has experience in dealing with debt and working out new budgets for debt-laiden spenders. She does most of her own budgeting online or on her mobile device, and protects her information with NetQin on Google Finance for added security, and recommends you do the same.

 

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