Nine Ways to Stretch Your Income
by Susie Cortright,
These days, many of us are finding ourselves having to stretch the ends
until they meet.
And anything's possible. Vicki Robin, author of Your Money or Your Life
lives on the $6,000 that her investments generate each year.
Here are some tips for stretching every dollar.
1. Save a penny, keep a penny.
Dump your pocket change into a jar each night.
Invest it in a high-interest bearing account at the
end of each month.
Woman's Day magazine recently suggested this
money-saver, adding that if a couple puts just one dollar each
into the jar every day, the sum will top $700 at the end of the
Invested at 10 percent interest over 10 years, that pocket
change will grow into $12,000.
I have a friend who keeps her change in an empty Swiss Miss
hot chocolate container. She calls it her 'Swiss Bank Account,'
and it has already funded two family trips to Mexico.
2. Use your computer
You can save big money by shopping online, if you know where to look.
Couponmountain.com (http://www.couponmountain.com) is a nicely
organized database of online coupon codes.
You can also purchase an Entertainment Book for local purchases.
I use mine all the time for groceries, oil changes, and dining out.
(The coupon book features lots of 2-for-1 deals at local eateries).
And here's a site that allows you to buy discounted gift certificates
to local restaurants. For example, you can purchase a $50 gift
certificate, in some cases, for $20. Print the certificate at home
and use it for your own family's dining:
3. Write letters.
Whether you love the product or hate it, write the manufacturer
a letter. Customer service is key for companies these days and a
company that receives a complaint is bound to make amends.
On the same token, many companies will acknowledge--and encourage--your
satisfaction with coupons and discounts.
4. Shop smart.
Look at the grocery store ads before heading off to the store.
Maybe you can reserve a few items for purchase at a nearby store
that is offering unusual bargains.
5. Ban impulse buying.
Make it a family policy: if you see something you like, write it
on a wish list and wait at least three days before buying.
6. Watch out for 'nickel and dime' expenses.
Those little snacks and coffee stops can easily add up to more
than $500 per year.
7. Shop around.
Research purchases on the internet. Before making a big online
purchase, visit http://www.dealtime.com and http://www.mysimon.com.
8. Refinance your home.
Signing a few papers can save you big money on your mortgage
payment. It's really not as big a hassle as you might think.
Ask your friends and family for the name of a good mortgage broker.
9. Examine credit card use.
If you have credit card debt, make a promise to yourself
to pay it off.
If you're paying credit card debt, you're
paying not just 17 percent more for your purchases
than you need to, you're also missing out on the money that the
sum could earn for you if you had invested it.
Comparison shop cards online with
Or simply call your credit card company and let them know
you have been offered a card with a lower rate. Then, ask if
there is a way to decrease your rate.
One two-minute phone call recently reduced our rate by 4 percentage
points. That was one call I wish I'd made a long time ago.
The most important thing is to recognize that you control your
finances. Empower yourself with smart spending.
For Further Reading:
Your Money or Your Life
Budget Living Magazine
Copyright 2004 Susie Michelle Cortright
Susie Michelle Cortright is the founder of Momscape.com, a website
devoted to helping busy women find balance, as well as
the editor of Affordable Luxuries, a free weekly newsletter
featuring online coupon codes and special offers for the web's
most wonderful things. Visit http://www.momscape.com