8 Great Money Earning Tips That You Can Use Today

On this blog, I am always talking about ways to save more money or make more money. Since I’m a big believer in doing more with less, here are some great tips on how you can save and make more money with minimal effort. A lot of these suggestions on my list may not afford you a new Rolls Royce, but utilize these strategies over time and you will start seeing all the extra money you may currently be missing out on.

1. Earn Free Gift Cards on Swagbucks.com

amazon gift cardSwagbucks is an awesome site that I’ve been using for a long time to easily earn free gift cards for doing things online. You can earn gift cards from major retailers like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target. I personally like the option to get Amazon gift cards, as I make the majority of my online purchases on Amazon.

The way it works is Swagbucks rewards you with Swag Bucks for doing online tasks such as taking surveys, shopping online, watching videos, playing games, searching the web, etc.. The Swag Bucks can then be redeemed for gift cards or other rewards. If you’re online a lot (like myself) then it’s pretty easy to start earning rewards. I have a few friends that have payed for their Christmas presents entirely with Swagbucks gift cards. You can check it out over here: Swagbucks

You can check out my more in-depth review over here: Swagbucks Review

2. Earn Extra Cash By Taking Surveys

If you have extra time and want to earn some extra money, there are quite a few online companies that pay you for taking surveys. These surveys will vary by size, topic, and payment, and you have to qualify to take the surveys. Surveys pay out from $1 to $25 depending on the length. To maximize your earnings, sign up for several of these.

Here are a couple of my personal favorites:

My Survey – Very easy surveys with quick payments. One of my favorites.

Only Cash Surveys – Many short surveys that pay $2.

3. Shop and Earn Program

If you haven’t heard of Shop and Earn programs yet, you should definitely try it out. I’m disappointed that I waited so long to join because it’s basically free money. Shop and Earn programs allow you to earn a percentage of cash back from your online purchases. The amount varies from merchant to merchant. All you have to do is sign up to a Shop and Earn program and do your regular online shopping! Below are a few of the more popular and profitable Shop and Earn programs I’ve found:



You really start earning when you combine multiple ways to save. For example, let’s say you want to buy a new TV at Walmart. Get 4% back at Swagbucks, plus save 2% using a rewards earning credit card. That’s 6%. Not huge but it adds up!

4. Sell Old Electronics on Gazelle

Gazelle allows you to turn your old cell phones, iPods, iPads or other electronics into cash. It’s pretty easy: find your gadget, answer a few questions, ship it in (free if its over $1), get paid via check or PayPal. I looked up my old iPhone 3Gs and found out that I can get $37. Use this link and get an extra $10 for any trade-ins worth over $25. Gazelle

5. Call to have your current interest rates lowered on Credit Cards

credit cardsAsk and you will be given. Call your current credit card companies and just ask if they can lower the interest rate. They won’t always do it, but they will grant your request for a lower interest more often than you think.

6. Rent Out Your Home on Air BnB when you’re out of town

I have a friend who makes upwards of $50,000 a year renting out his home in Amsterdam when he’s traveling. You can especially earn a lot if your home is in an area that is highly visited by tourists.

The reason I love this is because you get to charge hotel rates for renting out your home. And if you aren’t even going to be at home, then I see free money!

Worried about people damaging your home? Air BnB has you covered with their 1 million dollar insurance policy. Plus when someone rents through Air BnB, a lot of personal information is required, which makes it highly unlikely that someone will damage your home.

7. Use Coupons

coupons  Most stores nowadays will adjust their prices to compensate for coupons. So if you aren’t using coupons, you are actually losing money in the long run. But no worries, you can find great coupons all over the Internet now. Just do a quick search before your purchase.

Here are a couple of popular coupon sites that can get you started:



8. Use Store Loyalty Cards and Debit Cards

store loyalty cardsLastly, utilize store loyalty cards and debit cards. You don’t need to get a card for every single store, but just the few that you visit regularly.

Stores will usually give you rewards in cash back or gift certificates based on the amount you spend. If you are going to buy from these stores anyway, might as well get extra rewards.

Many stores now also provide a free debit card, which basically just connects onto your bank account. This also doubles as a reward card but the rewards are usually a lot better than if you just had a loyalty card.

Here are a few rewards I get for linking my debit card to a store’s loyalty card:

Nordstrom – Gives you a free $100 in Alterations a year, plus sends you Gift Certificates based on your spending

Arco – Arco waves the .35 fee they charge when you pay using a debit or credit card at their gas stations

I visit both these business very often, so it’s pretty much a no brainer for me to sign up for their cards. Both are also very easy to sign up for. I just filled out a quick form in the store and they mailed me my card.

How to Save Money When Buying a Car

When buying a car, nothing is more important than being a smart buyer. After all, this is often a sizable investment, even if you are purchasing a used vehicle. Most people today purchase vehicles using credit. Car loans are common and usually readily available. However, if you just take any loan you find, you’ll end up spending far too much money and you’ll struggle to pay it off. There are simple and effective ways to keep the prices low and still drive off the lot with the type of car you really want to own.

Research Before You Buy

The first step to saving money when you buy a car is to do your research first. The more information you gather about the options available to you, the more likely you are to save money. First, consider the vehicle you plan to buy itself.

New or Used?

Do you want to buy new or used? Buying used will save you a significant amount of money even if you buy a newer vehicle. However, it also comes with the risk of not having a warranty and not knowing what could be wrong with it. If you buy used, remember the following:

– Have your mechanic look at the vehicle before you buy to ensure it is a good investment even if the dealership is one you trust.

– Buy a newer used vehicle so it lasts you longer than the loan you get on it. In other words, make sure this investment is going to last for several years.

– Buy a vehicle only after checking the history of it, using serial number checks you can find online. This helps you to know more about the vehicle before you decide to buy.
If you buy new keep the following in mind:

– Don’t assume every dealer is the same. Some may offer special discounts and promotions that will significantly reduce the cost of the purchase.

– Be sure the warranty you get is one that is long enough to cover the vehicle for several years, if not longer. It is often worth buying a longer warranty if it covers systems in the vehicle that commonly break down after five years.

Take the time to compare numerous vehicles. Even slight differences such as in trim packages, can make a significant difference in the price you’ll pay. If you don’t need that spoiler, it is going to save you money not to get it.

Ultimately, deciding to buy new or used it up to you and your plans to hold onto the car for years to come or to sell in sooner. The key is to find a vehicle that’s right for your needs and one you’ll likely maintain.

How to Get a Cheap Car Loan

If you want to save the most money possible on the purchase of a car, don’t use a loan at all. Rather, invest in the vehicle by paying cash. That way, you do not have to worry about paying interest and you may be able to get a lower price point. For most people, using an actual loan is the route to take. If that’s the case, consider the following tips to get the lowest possible price on a loan.

– Shop around. The single most valuable way to save money is simply to compare the options from several providers instead of just one. Realize you don’t have to use just the dealership’s financing, even though this is something that many of them want you to do. talk to local lenders, too.

– Have a good credit score. The higher your credit score is, the less you will pay in interest on the loan. This can amount to thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan. Boost your score by paying down debt and making on time payments for several months before seeking out a new loan.

– Make a down payment. This will help you in two ways. First, a down payment reduces the amount of capital you are borrowing, which means less interest will be applied to the loan. Second, lenders like to see a down payment because you are less likely to walk away from this type of loan.

– Ask for a lower interest rate. Negotiation is a key component to getting a good car loan deal. Though you may be ready to negotiate with your car dealer, you also should ask the lender to give you a better rate for the loan.

– If you have poor credit, use a co-signer to get the loan. The good news is that if you use your car loan properly, by making payments on time every month, this could work to boost your credit score. A co-signer with good credit can also be a good thing because lenders see this as a security.

Never settle for just the car dealership’s offer for a car loan. Turn to national lenders, local banks, credit unions, and even specialized lenders.

Getting the Best Deal

A few more tips to help you to save money when buying a car are listed here. Be sure to employ every one of these to save the most money.

1. Ask About Dealership Incentives

Some dealers offer a significant discount to buyers just for asking for it.

2. Be Aware of Discounts or Incentives

Find out if there are manufacturer discounts or incentives available as well. Often, this will include financing deals.

3.Buy During the Right Season

Buy at the end of the summer or fall season, right before the new lineup of vehicles comes out. This may even be mid-summer. Clearance offers are often available now.

4. Negotiate the Terms of Any Deal

Do not assume or settle for the sticker price. Most of the time, it is significantly higher than you have to pay.

5.Milk You’re Deal

Work with a dealership you trust and get every extra you can, including a full tank of gas, discounts for auto service, and other offers available.

You can save money when buying a car. You just have to ask for the best deal available.

11 Ways to Fund Your Holidays without Wrecking Your Budget

Christmas is still a few months away but with a few money saving and money earning tips you can cover your holiday costs.  If you’re like me than you would love to give your family and friends gifts they’re going to enjoy for Christmas. If you’re tight on funds though this extra expense can be a burden, so what I like to do is make a little extra money during the holiday months that I use specifically to fund my holiday festivities.

One great piece of news is a lot of us already have skills that could translate into extra income that we haven’t explored yet. Also with the rise in popularity of the internet just having a computer with internet access gives you a vast amount of extra money making opportunities.

Now let’s go on to the 11 Ways you can pay for your holidays.

1. Earn Free Gift Cards from Swagbucks.com

Swagbucks is an awesome little site I discovered a while back that allows you to earn free gift cards for doing things online. The gift cards are from major retailers like Wal-Mart, Target, and Amazon. I personally like the option to get Amazon gift cards as I make the majority of my online purchases on Amazon.
The way it works is Swagbucks rewards you with Swag Bucks for doing online tasks such as taking surveys, shopping online, watching videos, playing games, searching the web, etc.. The Swag Bucks can then be redeemed for gift cards or other rewards. If you’re online a lot (like myself) than it’s pretty easy to start earning rewards. I have a few friends that have payed for their Christmas presents entirely with Swagbucks gift cards. Swagbucks.com

2. Taking Surveys

If you have the time there are many online companies that give you cash in exchange for taking surveys. Now these surveys vary on length, topic, and payout and you will be pre-screened to make sure you qualify to take the surveys. Surveys payout from $0.25 to $25 depending on the length.

Survey Sites:

Swagbucks.com Also one of my favorite sites for surveys

OpinionOutpost.com I like them because I get paid fast and surveys are easy

OnlyCashSurveys.com They have a lot of short surveys that pay $2

3. Cash Back Shopping

I’ve heard of about cash back shopping programs a while ago, but just recently decided to sign-up and try it out.  I’m disappointed in the fact I waited so long to join because it’s basically free money.  Cash back shopping programs allow you to earn a percentage of your online purchases cash back in cash.  The way these work is the retailers are paying the cash back shopping sites an affiliate fee for every purchase that you make.  The cash back shopping sites then share this affiliate fee with you.  The amount varies from merchant to merchant.  All you have to do is sign up and start shopping!  I have used both Swagbucks and Ebates before and they both work well.  Best to sign up for both so you get the best coverage of stores and the best percentage back.

Swagbucks – Check out the double cash back deals where they double the amount you get back.  One of the few sites with Amazon cash back.

Ebates  – The original shopping cash back site and still one of the best.

You really start saving when you combine multiple ways to save. For example you want to buy a new TV at Walmat. Save 4% at Swagbucks plus save 2% using a rewards earning credit card. That’s 6%. Not huge but it adds up!

4. Sell Old Electronics on Gazelle

Gazelle allows you to turn your old cell phones, ipods, ipads or other electronics into cash. Its pretty easy, you find your gadget, answer a few questions, ship it in (free if its over $1), get paid via check or PayPal. I looked up my old iPhone 3Gs and found out that I can get $37. Use this link and get an extra $10 any trade ins worth over $25. Gazelle

5. Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

Go through your home with a box and place items such as electronics, clothes, appliances, DVD’s, CD’s, and anything else you aren’t using and sell them on Craigslist.

You’re probably not going to get much money for your old belongings, but if you weren’t using them anyways they are just cluttering your home.

Every few months I go through my stuff and get rid of non-seasonal things I haven’t used in the past 6 months away. I’ve found that if I haven’t used the item in 6 months, I most likely will never use it again.

6. Sell Your Stuff on eBay

Even though I previously talked about selling your stuff on Craigslist, I’ve written this portion on selling your stuff on eBay because I’ve found that you can get more money selling items on eBay. It just takes a bit more patience.

People on Craigslist are mostly looking for really cheap deals. People on eBay are also looking for cheap deals, but you get a lot of normal consumers who use eBay like any other store. If you have some higher ticket items like laptops, computers, or cameras I actually suggest you sell them on eBay because you can make a little more money. If you want to sell items fast and willing to take a less money than Craigslist is a better option.

7. Have a Garage Sale

I’m a big proponent of selling things online on eBay and Craigslist, but if you have a lot of stuff than it might be a good idea to have a garage sale. This will allow you to sell those things that aren’t worth the effort to sell online for whatever reason such as being unshippable or low priced items.

9. Sell Stock Photos

For all you amateur photographers out there a great way to make some extra money is to sell your stock photos. A couple of stock photo websites you can sell to are iStockPhoto and 123RF. iStockPhoto has a review process that includes a quiz and requires you to show samples of your photography before they approve you as a partner. Once you are approved you will be given 15% of the sales they make on your photos.

If you are into photography I think this is a pretty awesome way to make extra money since you are already going to be taking pictures and doesn’t require any extra work.

10. Sell Your Used Books

Throughout the years you have probably amassed a nice collection of books. Even if you aren’t a reader you still have those old textbooks from college lying around along with those books you’ve received as gifts for Christmas, Graduations, Birthdays, and other special events. If you are an avid reader than you’ll have books that you just don’t read anymore or have lost interest in.

Here are some sites you can sell those books at:




11. Rent Your Home Out on AirBnB

If you are going to be gone from your home for any amount of time than put it for rent on AirBnB.com. Many people use AirBnB as a substitute for hotels and you can set the dates and price you are willing to rent your home out for.

If you are worried about strangers messing up your home you’ll be glad to know that AirBnB insures your home for up to $1,000,000 for anyone using your home through their site.

This is especially a great money making option if you are away from home often.

12. What else?

If you have more ideas please leave them in the comments section below. Thanks!

How to Use Coupons to Cut Your Shopping Bill in Half

Coupons. You’ve heard about them. You’ve watched television shows about them. You wonder what it is like to walk into a grocery store and be able to hand over a stack of coupons and walk out with a cart-full of groceries costing you just $8.10. That’s what others do. How can you get 60, 70, or even 90 percent off your bills? It may be easier to do than you think. In fact, depending on the extreme level you hope to use, you can easily cut those bills down and be able to save more than half of your shopping expenses without even spending more than a few minutes on the process.

Step 1 – Get Coupons

The first step is to find and use coupons. Depending on how extreme you want to be, you may be looking for as many coupons as you can get. Start slow and build up so you are not overwhelmed initially by this process. Here are some ways to get coupons.

1. Your local newspaper is the best source for coupons. Sunday papers often have some, but there are others throughout the week. You’ll want to subscribe to at least one. Moreover, keep in mind, if you go into the grocery store or drug store the day after the paper comes out, extra copies may be a fraction of the cost.

2. Sign up for various couponing groups online and swap them out. You can find blogs, forums and message boards full of coupon swappers ready to sell or trade them with you. This is serious business.

3. Look for sites you can download and print off the coupons you need. Coupons.com is one of them. It’s a great site for coupon offers of all types.

4. Some magazines have coupons in them. Be careful. The cost of the magazine has to be factored into any savings you’ll find here.

5. Buy them on eBay and other auction sites. You can often buy them for a fraction of their value and use them as much as you want.

Getting coupons is the first task. The next is knowing what to do with them.

Step 2 – Be Rational

This is where some people fall out of line. In order to save money, or cut your shopping bill in half, you need to make wise buying decisions. Not every coupon is a good deal. Additionally, if it is a product that you do not need, spending even one penny on it is not worthwhile. In other words, go through your coupons, cut them out, and organize them. Use only those that are actually going to be valuable to you.

Step 3 – Know Your Store

Contact your retailers and find out what their coupon policy is. Some will restrict how many you can use in each transaction. Some will double or even triple the amount you save. You also have to watch for printed coupons, like those you get online. Some companies will not allow you to use these. Know your coupon policies, limitations, and exceptions before doing anything else.

Step 4- Getting the Ads

Depending on the extreme level you plan to coupon, you will need to be very organized in this process. The goal is to do some matching.

– Find out what’s on sale. If you want to keep yourself even more frugal, it is a good idea to only buy what you need that’s on sale. That way, you are not spending more than you need to at all.

– Next, compare the coupons you have to what is on sale. For example, if you see that cereal is on sale and you have a coupon for it, set aside those coupons to use. This doubling up of the sale and the coupon is where the significant savings comes in.

Put aside as many coupons as you can for each of the items on sale that are a good deal. You can do this same process to any other grocery store you plan to visit. Some companies also price match. For example, a very big discount department store that’s likely in your area price matches what others offer. This is a good way to get more savings if your retailer has limitations.

Once you work through this process, you’ll be able to save a substantial amount of money. The key is to look at the savings. If you notice that peanut butter is on sale and you have a coupon, you’ll save big time. If it costs $2 a jar, you have a coupon for $1 off, and your retailer doubles coupons, that jar of peanut butter is free to you.

It’s a process that takes some getting used to, but if you do it right and stay organized you can easily slash your budget in half or even more than half. That could be one of the biggest opportunities for you to save money on groceries. Why didn’t you think of this sooner?

How to Start an Emergency Savings Account

An emergency savings account may just be one of the most important savings vehicles available to you today. It is the most important step you can take, in fact, in managing your finances. No matter who you are, what you own, what you owe, you need this type of savings. It protects you from all of the twists and turns in your financial life. But, how? How can you go from being broke to putting money aside?

Realize the Importance

The first thing to do is to realize just how important this type of savings tool really is. Unlike anything else, it will provide you with the protection you need from whatever lies ahead. Here are two scenarios as examples. Your goal in both is to stop using credit and to build a strong financial future.

1. You have no savings account. The car breaks down and requires a $1000 repair. You need to be able to get to work to earn money. You could use a payday loan, but that’s incredibly expensive and it makes it harder to repay all of your other debts later. You could use a credit card. That’s just going to put you farther into debt.

2. You have a savings account. You can take that $1000 out of the savings account and use it to make the repairs. There’s no additional cost from these loans or credit usage and your are still on your way to paying down your debt.

From big emergencies to small-unexpected payments, you need to have the funds to get through. If you want to avoid using credit cards due to the debt often create, having an emergency account is necessary. What’s worse is not having an emergency account or having access to credit. What would you do then?

Find a Bank

There are a few rules to remember about your emergency savings account.

1. You need to put money into a bank account. You do not want it sitting around the house. Even if it does not earn you must interest, you need to be able to have it some place you can get to it when you need to, but far enough away that you can’t get into it for non-emergency uses.

2. It’s best to not have a debit card for the account. It helps to restrict your access to the money so that you don’t blow it on the wrong thing.

3. Don’t use the account for anything else. This is not the place to pay debts or bills.

4. It’s untouchable. Don’t use it unless you absolutely need to – as in the car broke down, the toilet is overflowing or your child needs to go to the doctor. Only true emergencies should ever be considered as acceptable uses.

5. Make a rule that both parties (in cases of spouses or significant others sharing the account) must agree on the usage of the funds and the goal of keeping it in place. No one person can access the funds.

Once you do this, the next step is to find the cash to put into the account. That’s the hard part, you thought?

10 Ways to Fund an Emergency Account

How can you fund your emergency account? You can barely pay your bills! Here are some simple tips that work.

1. Set up your emergency account at the same bank you are using as a regular bank, where your paycheck is automatically deposited. Set it up so that the bank takes $20 out of your paycheck every week or month (whatever you can afford) and puts it into the account automatically. You will not notice it.

2. Put your coffee shop money into the account. That $6 coffee you drink every day equates to $30 a week into the account.

3. Brown bag your lunch for work and put the money into the account. If you spend just $10 a day on lunches, you’ll be able to put away at least $8 of it a day into the account, or $40 a week.

4. Collect your change each week in a jar and deposit the funds into the account. Every little bit counts.

5. If you are not paying your bills on time, it may be a good idea to fully fund your emergency account and then go back to paying your credit card companies. However, this will damage your credit and it is not advisable for those who want to maintain those accounts.

6. Create a budget that allows you to put a small amount of money each month towards your emergency account. Most people should have at least $1000 put aside for these incidents, but sometimes twice that is necessary.

7. Reduce some expense you have and then save that money. For example, cut your cable bill down and put the savings into the emergency account instead.

8. Go without something you usually enjoy and put the funds into the emergency account until it is funded. For example, if you like dinner and a movie on Saturday nights, you’ll appreciate putting that $50 to $100 into the emergency account for a few weeks until its funded.

9. Cut down on groceries and eating out for a few weeks until you fund the account. It’s hard, but worth it.

10. Work extra hours to fund the account. This is especially helpful when you can work overtime to get the funds.

To have an emergency account that is at least $1000 or up to your monthly salary is a very good thing. It keeps you above water when everything else seems to be drowning.

How to Quit Spending More Than You Make

How much do you spend each day? Month? It’s a hard number to look at if you add up all of those stops for coffee and quick runs into the drug store. You need it. You want it. Yet, when it comes to paying the bills, nothing worries you more than not having enough money in the bank. If you are like many, you are tired of spending more than you make and having to deal with high interest rates on credit cards and loans just to get by. But, how can you stop the cycle?

Turning to the Income

Many people believe that if they are spending more than they make they need to get a different job, beg the employer for a raise, or work on finding a job to do in their spare time. There are some situations where it is necessary to be paid more. However, most people don’t need to earn more – but rather they need to learn how to spend wisely. Easier said than done, you say. If you give it just a month of sticking to a plan, you may find that saving money is far easier to do when you are spending less.

Create a Savings Budget

Many people have budgets. They know how much their mortgage, utilities and groceries are going to cost each month. You may have a specific budget in place designed to get all of your bills paid. However, have you factored savings into it?

Make saving money just as important as paying the mortgage. If you feel as though you are struggling to make ends meet, this one simple step, even if it is just $10 a week, will make a big difference in your mentality. It will help you to see that having money set aside, untouchable for anything but true emergencies, really does feel good. For many people, it is a type of motivation to get you to the next level.

Do a Financial Fast

Have you ever put yourself on an eating fast? For just a few days, you do nothing but drink water and eat very little, if anything. This is a great way to cleanse your body and to improve your overall health because it flushes you clean. At the same time, it resets your hungry and stomach so that you end up eating less even after the fast is over.

What about a financial fast? Here’s what to do:

  • Pay only your mortgage, utilities, food and any debt obligations you cannot avoid paying, such as taxes and insurance
  • Do not try and keep expenses. Rather, your job is to find a way to reduce the number of expenses you have
  • Find ways to cut expenses out completely. Instead of going to the grocery store this week, have a freezer week
  • For any purchase, you think you need to make, ask yourself if you really need it. Determine if there are any alternatives to purchasing it
  • Ask yourself, what the most cost effective way to make purchases you need to make. Instead of having a professional put parts into your car for you, get them at the junk yard and learn to do it yourself
  • When you are making any purchase or paying any bill ask yourself if you are really getting your money’s worth from this purchase. Is this $90 meal really worth it or can you make three, $30 meals at home instead?
  • Finally, ask yourself if you are better off saving this money than you are spending it

What does all of this do for you? It will help you to consider every single expense you have. Should you really eat a ramen noodle diet for months? No, of course not. However, you can give up those expensive meals out and start making foods from home.

Go to Envelopes

You just need to stop the spending now in some situations. Another plan for doing this is to use envelopes instead of using checks. For example, your paycheck comes in. You cash it. You place a specific amount of money that you have budgeted for every single thing you will spend on. This includes a separate envelope for the following:

  • Groceries for the month
  • Spending money for the monthly
  • Utilities for the month (some people even create separate envelopes for each individual item)
  • Gas money
  • Money for any other specific need you have

You can only spend the money in the envelope on the specific areas you’ve decided on. That means if you have $200 for spending money, you cannot borrow from anything else. Why do this? Because it can help you to quit spending more than you make. It helps you to live a cash-based lifestyle. That is critical when you want to reduce spending quickly.

What About Emergencies?

Emergencies can be one of the hardest things to deal with. How can you have enough money to pay for that emergency visit to the dentist or the repair to the car that gets you back and forth to work? It is all in the planning.

Setting up an emergency account is the route to take. By putting some money into a savings account and leaving it there, you can be sure that any emergency expense that comes up is easily paid for. However, there are some rules. This money should not go towards anything but a true emergency. You should also create a cash-based budget and stick with it.

Using cash instead of credit can help you to quit spending more than you make. However, it is up to you to create a plan that can really work for you and for your family’s needs. You can make the change, if you put the work into doing so.

How to Control Your Spending

It’s often the case that I find people asking me how to control spending. The answer is simple of course – just don’t make purchases. That’s not really enough help for those who spend above their budgets and want to fix things but cannot seem to do so. The best way to control your spending habits is to be open and honest with yourself, your spouse, and even your kids. Being realistic takes practice. The following steps will help you.

Take That Hard Look

– A good way to put a stop to overspending is to take a long, hard look at what you are spending. Here are some tips to follow:

– Pull out your credit card statements, bank statements, and receipts. Create a list of the main categories of spending, such as groceries, eating out, utilities, etc.

– Allocate each item you’ve purchased to a category. You will quickly see how much you are spending in which categories.

– Make a list of all of your income sources.

– Add up how much you are spending per month in all expenses.

– You will be able to see, in print, the differences in what you are spending, where you are spending it and what you are bringing in.

This is a hard step to take – it’s simply not easy to realize where you are spending money until you see it in print.

Determine Why You Are Spending

Ask yourself why you are overspending. If you are spending too much on eating out, it may be because you haven’t taken the time to plan a menu, buy groceries or to plan a schedule that allows you to make dinner at home.

On the other hand, some individuals need to consider their specific emotional attachment to the act of shopping. Are you addicted to this? Does it provide some type of emotional benefit to you when you shop?

Are you:

– Do you shop because it provides an emotional boost to you. Do you feel good when you shop?

– Does it provide an outlet, a way to break away from everyday life?

– Do you have self-regulation problems or trouble controlling bad habits?

– Do you see it as a way to socialize because you lack any real attention or interaction with others?

If so, you may need to investigate why this is and, most importantly, what you can do about it. In some cases, shopping addiction requires professional treatment.

Cut Up the Cards and Use Cash

Perhaps the most difficult decision to make is to live a cash lifestyle. This means you cannot pay bills, go out to dinner, or make any purchase unless you have the cash on hand to do so. This is challenge for many Americans because society is so credit-driven. However, if you do cut up the credit cards, you could help to curb your spending habits. Here is why.

Cash is simply harder to spend. If you go to the store and see something you want, you may pull out a credit card and purchase it knowing you do not have to worry about paying for it for a while. On the other hand, you may second-guess that purchase if you only have cash in your hand. This cash lifestyle can make it far easier for you to control spending.

This is not easy. In fact, in most situations, it is downright hard to do especially at first. However, if you try it even for a few days, you will see the significant improvement it can make in your financial life.

Can You Do A Budget?

Budgeting is hard work, too. However, to control your spending, it is essential to consider the budget as a tool, not as that dreaded thing you do on the weekend. Here are some tips to making it work.

1. Do it together. You and your partner should sit down and discuss the process together. That way, everyone is committed to it.

2. Be realistic. Be sure to give yourself an allowance every month for entertainment, gifts, and other purchases you usually make.

3. Work on it as a family. Be sure the kids know that you are sticking to a budget. That means no purchases of extra items they do not need.

Why do it? A budget seems like a lot of work, but it will show you exactly where you need to cut your spending and how you can save money. It will tell you how much you have to spend each month on the various categories. By putting this in place, you put a virtual brake on your spending habits.

Realize What You Could Have

Finally, take a long hard look at what you want or wish you could have. Do you want a long retirement touring the world and living somewhere warm? Do you want to be able to pay for your child’s college education? Do you just want the creditors to stop calling? Sit down and write out some specific goals for yourself. What are your biggest dreams financially?

Now, look at how your spending is hurting those dreams and ambitious.

– You are spending 20 percent or more on your credit card purchases than you would need to have. That means, for every $100 you spend on your credit cards each year, you could be paying $20 towards your goals instead if you used cash.

– If a family of four eats out four times per week then that could mean spending $200 or more per week on dinners out. If you cut that in half (just in half!) you could be putting $100 a week more into your savings accounts and earning interest on it.

– If you took the extra money you save from eating out, not buying that high end coffee or skipping those extra purchases and put it towards your retirement (perhaps right out of your paycheck) it could earn you thousands of dollars over 10, 20 or more years.

Can you really afford not to control your spending? It’s hard. It’s much easier to live in the now. But, doing this brings you so many more rewards.