September 15, 2008


During these difficult economic times, all of us are looking for ways to make a dollar go further. Recently, BusinessWeek asked financial experts for their recommendations for reducing expenses and saving more. They provided 25 suggestions for consideration ...

1. Track every expense - it's tough to argue the fact that the best way to curb spending is to know exactly where your money is going.

2. Vacation in the off-season

3. Cut out investment charges and fees - Commissions and high cost mutual funds eat at ones returns; low-cost mutual funds and index funds can help you easiliy avoid unnecessary costs.

4. Cut back on eating out

5. Downsize your car - Too much car payment? Gas guzzler? ...

6. Cut utility bills, especially electricity - Energy efficient light bulbs, turn thermostat down, unplug/turn off unused appliances.

7. Make sure you don't have too much insurance - Assess your needs and then shop from time to time to make sure you are getting a fair price.

8. Find cheaper beverages to drink - They refer to this as "fancy" coffee and drinks. I think you get the idea.

9. Examine your phone service - Examine your bill; unnecessary services?

10. Stop paying for premium cable - Some people will cut altogether to save money; others will 'downsize' to basic cable.

11. Drive less; consolidate trips - Public transportation, walk, bike - when driving, do errands for one trip.

12. Use warehouse stores wisely - Shop from a list; buy what you need. A good deal isn't so good if you wind up throwing half of it away.

13. Lay down the law with your free-spending friends - Inform them of your interest in spending less. You'll find most will be supportive.

14. Find free entertainment

15. Consider alternatives to a gym membership - Only worthwhile if you go regularly; consider working out at home, park facilities, or individual classes.

16. Cut your own lawn

17. Be smart with credit cards - Pay your balance in full to avoid interest and finance charges. Some advise consumers to go to a cash-based system to avoid impulse purchases.

18. Annualize your expenses - Putting an annual cost to items (i.e., $X for pizza, $Y for soda pop, etc.) can help put purchases into perspective.

19. Force yourself to save - Recommendation is to "trick yourself;" automatically transfer money to a savings or investment account; you won't be tempted to spend money that isn't there.

20. Institute a waiting period for major purchases - By waiting to make a major purchase (48 hours or so) you eliminate the strong urge to make emotional purchases. You can always make the purchase if you still want it.

21. Pay bills online - Most bill-pay services are free; save yourself the cost of stamps and potential late fees.

22. Make sure you're deducting all business expenses - Avoid the mistake of mixing business and personal expenses.

23. Buy generic drugs and groceries - Store-brand products in grocery stores are often made by the same manufacturers as the brand-name items.

24. Buy used - Cars, books, furniture, etc. can be purchased used for a fraction of the original price.

25. Shop smart - Coupons, comparison shopping, shop online, and then buy what is needed; when an item is 20% off, we often waste $8 to save $2.

If you're still looking for more ways to save, you can peruse the popular 66 Ways to Save Money publication.