Pay Off Your Debts
So you want to create an emergency savings fund, or you need to finance that vacation in a few months. Where are you going to get the money? By taking a closer look at what you spend and using your cash wisely, you could save hundreds—even thousands—this year!
Pay Off Your Debts
An important step in making the most of your money is to pay off your debts
. Once your debts are paid, financial expert Suze Orman says, you can start saving for the future.
Once you've paid down your credit card and other bills, Suze suggests taking the amount you used to pay each month and putting it into a savings account instead.
Cut Back on Expenses
To save even more money, Suze says to keep track of your expenses for each month and then determine areas where you can cut back by $50 or $100 per month and save the money instead. Try Suze's simple corner-cutting suggestions:
- Use ATMs only from your bank—those surcharges can really add up!
- Replace your lattes with plain coffee.
- Cancel one or more of your premium cable channels.
- Bring your lunch to work at least one day per week.
- Switch your credit card balance to one with a low introductory rate.
- Skip the local movie theater and rent or borrow a movie just once a month.
- Get a haircut every six weeks instead of every five.
Don't Pay Too Much
In addition to avoiding expensive activities, you can also make sure you're not paying too much for the things you do buy.
Discover best-price offers. Most large stores have a 14-day price guarantee and many provide a "best price" guarantee, which means they'll refund the difference between what you paid and the sale price, plus up to 20 percent.
Take advantage of discounts. Students can get tickets to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City for reduced prices. AAA members get discounts at hotels and at Hertz car rental. Each time you join an organization or a new company, examine its benefits package for discount offers.
Research package deals. Consolidate home phone-Internet-cell phone service, or Internet-cable-phone service and car-home-life insurance. The exact savings will depend on where you live and what services you choose, but are worth looking into.
Negotiate gym dues. Ask your fitness center to meet a comparable facility's promotional price.
Ask for a Raise
Another way to build up your savings is to make more money. Asking for a raise could give your savings a boost. If your boss won't agree to a raise, Suze suggests working overtime or finding freelance work while you build up your savings.
Have a Garage Sale
Make your savings account grow by putting your useless items to work. You can get rid of your clutter and make some extra dough by having a garage sale.
Start a Money Group
Finances are a very personal matter—but saving money doesn't have to be! Start a Money Group
with your girlfriends, co-workers or neighbors to create a support network for your financial goals.
A group of women who named themselves the Smart Cookies helped each other save thousands of dollars in just one year. "We talk to each other on our cell phones so if we're tempted to buy something we call each other up," says Angela, a Smart Cookie. To save money, they share their clothes, come up with ideas to cut corners and even have girls' nights together where they spend only $6 each!
Make Your Money Work for You
Once you've started saving money, make it go to work for you—and watch it grow! In order to save money for a short-term goal, such as a down payment on a home, Suze says you should choose a safe place to keep it, such as a money market account, a savings account, a CD or a T-bill. At an annual rate of return of 5 percent, if you save $100 per month for five years, you will have $6,829!
For a longer-term goal like retirement, Suze says you can put your money in stocks or mutual funds, where it can grow over 10, 20 or 30 years. She says with an average annualized gain of 8 percent, if you save just $100 per month, you will have $59,295 in 20 years and $150,030 in 30 years.
Please note: This is general information and is not intended to be legal advice. You should consult with your own financial advisor before making any major financial decisions, including investments or changes to your portfolio, and a qualified legal professional before executing any legal documents or taking any legal action. Harpo Productions, Inc., OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Discovery Communications LLC and their affiliated companies and entities are not responsible for any losses, damages or claims that may result from your financial or legal decisions.