The old adage of putting away at least 10% of your paycheck is definitely one that you shouldn't scoff at. My past work as a financial planner often showed me how people don't look to the future and live in the here and now. The trick to saving money is to be consistent, giving yourself some treats, but not overdoing it too much.
1. Make A Monthly/Weekly Payment to A Savings Account
Whether it's ING Direct, or some other savings account, choose one that gives you good compound interest. Create an automatic transfer rule through your online banking to this account. You won't miss 5-15%, so that should be your goal for each paycheck.
2. Credit Cards
Every one has credit cards, but we've whittled our cards down to one. It's enough for our family. We used to have so many, from Best Buy, Ikea, etc. The payment plans and offers are just there to make you spend more money than you can afford. Stay away from them and close off your accounts to one or two cards, if it's possible. Choose one that offers good returns and benefits.
3. Consider Drastic Solutions to Clear Off Debt
Everybody's got debt, good and bad. From student loans to credit cards, it's hard not to live on credit. When we moved to Asia in 2006, we stopped using credit all that much and started paying off our debt. My wife paid off her student loans completely in less than four years, I've cleared off almost all of my debt as well. Asia has taught us to live with cash and with the money we make, without overspending it.
4. Latte Factor
Save the money that you'd otherwise spend on your daily coffee by making real, expensive coffee at home. I use a coffee siphon and Blue Mountain beans, and it costs pennies compared to if I buy a cup of java at a coffee shop. You'll easily recoup the cost of the tech you by in a few weeks.
5. Mortgage Payment
If you've got a mortgage, try switching from a monthly payment to a weekly one. That will save you some money in the long run. You'll also end up paying your mortgage off faster. At our home, we tend to put as much as we can toward our small mortgage in an effort to clear it off as soon as possible.
[images via MSNBC, HCCU, Ironic Tronic]
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