Better Budgeting: You Have More Money in Your Pocket Than You Think

You Have More Money in Your Pocket Than You Think

Guest Article
by Gabriel Nijmeh

Let me be the first person to say, "Why wasn't I smarter with my money?" I look back over the years in amazement at how my money "innocently" just slipped through my hands.

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Ultimately, beyond those fleeting moments of gratification, I can't really say I have much to show for some of my misspent money. I certainly don't want to be a killjoy or anything and I don't advocate being a penny-pinching scrooge that doesn't enjoy life but there are small, yet significant steps you can take to keep more money in your pocket.

Just off the top of my head I came up with these and you can probably add a heck of a lot more to the list. Here we go...

Bank Service Charges:

We all know how our banks love to nickel and dime us. For reasons such as not maintaining a $1000 monthly balance or using another banks ATM machine. Whatever the reason these small fees quickly add up over time. Pay attention to your bank statements and review all bank documentation regarding service fees. You are looking at savings of $4 to $15/month.

Magazine/newspaper subscriptions:

Visit your local library or subscribe to magazines that offer professional/courtesy subscriptions. Tradepub.com lists various free publications across a range of subjects. Otherwise, carefully pick and choose the magazines you really want to subscribe to and look out for introductory subscription rates.

Stop smoking:

Preachy, I know, but that's a lot of money going up in smoke (pun intended!). Not only is this good for your wallet but for your health as well and if you are applying for life insurance, your premiums will be lower because you are classified as a lower risk individual. At $4 a pack and two packs a week that's $32/month.

Books and CDs:

Why pay full price when you can get a "gently used" or "previously enjoyed" copy of that bestseller for a fraction of the price. I have bought CDs from local used CD stores that were almost brand new and saved $8-9 off the retail price for each CD.

Rebate Programs:

Always take advantage of rebate programs. It might be a hassle to fill out the forms and send them off but your savings will add up.

Coffee/Muffin mornings:

I'm guilty of this? I have to have my morning coffee (the office coffee is not very good) but at least I've learned to cut back on the muffins and donuts. At $3.00/day over the course of a month you are looking at a potential saving $60.

Lunch:

I finally stopped being lazy and started preparing my own lunch. Not only is it expensive but also fast food is not entirely healthy either. If you save on average $5/day that adds up to $100 for the month.

Sales patterns:

In my experience, Christmas merchandise is discounted 50% or more a day or two before Christmas and following Christmas.

Also consider buying seasonal products (boots, winter/summer clothing) as the seasons change. At times it might be difficult to find your exact size or colour but luckily that's usually not the case. We're talking savings of 40-60% and sometimes even more.

Case in point, I bought a leather jacket from Eddie Bauer last spring which was regularly priced at $498, and which was reduced to $199 and then further reduced by 30% during their annual spring sale.

 What made the deal even sweeter was that I had a $75 gift certificate, which I earned through MyPoints.com. Not a bad deal and one, which I'm proud of because I don't really have shoppers luck. As much as I like a deal, I can never find exactly what I'm looking for... maybe I'm too picky.

Something else I noticed where I live, gas prices are usually at their lowest Thursday through Monday and by Monday afternoon gas prices go up 5 - 8 cents per liter.

However, pay attention to price patterns and news in the gas industry to have an understanding about where gas prices are heading and how it might affect you.

Month end recap:

By the end of the month, depending on your lifestyle choices and spending habits, you just might end up with an extra $50, $100 or more that you thought you never had. You can do it without depriving yourself and without a noticeable difference in your day-to-day life.

It's a balance between living for today and planning for the future. It's not always easy but it's worth it!

Think of these little sacrifices as an investment, which will reap you multiple rewards many times over.

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Copyright © 2002 by Gabriel Nijmeh. All rights reserved.

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