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If you’re a two-car family, figure out which of your vehicles gets better gas mileage and make sure the person with the longer commute is driving it. O’Connor swapped cars with his work-from-home wife and ended up saving $35 a month.
Don’t double up on services. If you can sufficiently browse the Web on your phone or tablet, consider cutting your home Internet account. Alternately, if you definitely have to pay for high-speed Internet, think about canceling your landline and using a Web-based phone service like Skype or Vonage to make calls.
Give your kids a clothes allowance and let them buy their own stuff. It will turn them into smart shoppers and keep you within your budget.
Write it off! You can totally write off stuff like job-related educational expenses, required uniforms or work clothing and even the cost of transportation if you travel between offices. Check IRS.gov for details and, of course, more things that are deductible. (Not your 4 p.m. latte. Sorry.)
Go through your credit-card statements and unsubscribe from anything you’re paying for and not using--a storage facility, a pie-in-the-sky gym membership, that organic-lip-balm-of-the-month club...
Unless you really enjoy throwing away money, do not pay ATM fees. Keep a stash of cash at home for emergency situations. Or join an online bank that will let you access any ATM without a surcharge.
Consider turning date night into...date day. Go for lunch (cheaper food, less inclination to binge-order mojitos) and then to a discount-priced midday matinee. Then go home for some afternoon, um, canoodling.
There’s no point in clipping coupons for stuff you don’t need. But you should always try to save on the items you definitely do buy every month (Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and econo-sized sriracha, in our case). Identify what those things are, go to the companies’ websites and sign up to receive discount offers, coupons or samples.
If you’re not thrilled with your mortgage rate, it’s really worth considering a refinance. Reducing the rate on a $100,000 loan from 5.5 percent to 3.6 percent saves more than $110 off your monthly payment, or more than $40,000 in saved interest over the life of the loan.
This one is a little grim, but bear with us: O’Connor recommends nixing your accidental death (or double indemnity) rider, which basically pays out only if you get flattened by a piano. The reason? You probably won’t leave your family with sky-high unpaid medical bills if you get flattened by a piano.
When Detroit News columnist Brian O’Connor found himself strapped for cash in the wake of the financial crisis, he set himself a goal: Cut his family’s monthly spending by $1,000.
Sounds like a tall order, right? Not necessarily, says O’Connor, who had the foresight to break his mission down into smaller, more manageable pieces. Over the course of ten weeks, he identified ten spending categories (ranging from transportation to life insurance) where he could easily slash $100. It was a success: He ended up saving more than his original goal.
O’Connor’s new book, The $1,000 Challenge, details this experiment--and it’s worth reading for the money-saving tips and the funny, relatable anecdotes.
Pick up a copy to see how he did it, and head over to our slideshow to check out ten of his suggestions for curbing your own monthly spending. (Hint: The ATM is kind of the devil.)
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