Five Minute Fixes For Your Budget

Use these 10 tips to reduce your budget in 5 minutes or less.

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Consolidate Your Mornings

Spending $1.50 on coffee, $0.60 for a bagel and $0.35 for a newspaper every morning adds up over one year, says Andrew K. Johnson, communications and public relations manager at GreenPath Debt Solutions. Save that $894.25 by making coffee at home, buying bagels and snacks in bulk at the grocery store and reading the newspaper online. Plus, think of the extra time you’ll gain from skipping that endless line at the coffee shop!

Cut Utility Bills by Unplugging

Boost your home’s energy efficiency and lower your utility bills without investing in costly weather stripping and time-consuming insulation. Annette Findling from AXA Advisors recommends a fix that won’t cost a penny and takes less than five minutes. "Completely turn off or unplug your appliances as soon as you’re done using them," she says.

Take a Look at Your Vices

Do you really need that $3 a day latte from Starbucks, or that $15 a day salad from the gourmet eatery across the street from work? "It’s important to identify the things you can live without," Findling says. "You’d be surprised how much you can cut out of your budget that way."

Switch to Cash

It’s all too easy to put everything on your credit card and then avoid looking at the statement at the end of the month. Now is the time to put a stop to overspending. Leave your cards at home and switch to cash. "I’m a big proponent of cash and carry wherever you go," Findling says. "When you use cash for everything you’re more likely to say ‘I don’t really need that because I don’t have much cash left.’"

Don’t Get Too Restrictive

"People get really gung-ho about turning over a new leaf but they’re too restrictive and blow it," Findling says. Put together a budget that’s realistic and take five minutes every quarter to revisit it and make sure it’s still feasible for you. It’s always more fulfilling to look at your recent achievements and then expand upon them.

Entertain at Home

"Reevaluate your concept of entertainment," Findling says. Go to a bargain-priced matinee or better yet, rent a DVD and make homemade pizza and fresh popcorn. "It’s always more entertaining to be relaxed at home than battling it out for seats," she says.

Stock up

Increase savings by purchasing more. "Buying in bulk can qualify your order for a better value coupon like $30 off $100 or $50 off $150," says Andrea Woroch, public relations and communication specialist for says. "In this case, consider buying multiple products from the same retailers to benefit from the savings." Or be extra savvy and plan gifts for upcoming occasions.

Don’t Marry a Brand

Just because a brand is your favorite doesn’t mean it’s going to bring you the most savings. The key to being a smart shopper is knowing your options. "Take five minutes to compare prices, products and product reviews to make the best purchase for the price you pay. You’ll be surprised by the difference," Woroch says.

Pay Yourself

This tip isn’t so much a budget reducer as it is a built-in emergency plan. As part of your monthly budget, allocate money to place in an emergency reserve. "For everyone it’s different, but you need about six months of living expenses sitting in savings in case your water heater breaks or your car decides to stop working," Findling says.

Don’t Pay for Shipping

Woroch recommends taking five minutes to search to find thousands of free overnight, two-day and priority shipping coupons from top brands like JCPenney, Verizon and DELL.

First Published Wed, 2010-12-15 09:52

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