Friday, July 22, 2011

Simple saving tips for families

Though the economy is on the mend, many families forced to make sacrifices during the downturn will continue to look for ways to maintain more control of their finances in the event another period of economic struggle surfaces down the road. It's safe to assume no family wants to find itself in the position millions of families did during the downturn, dealing with unemployment, a nonexistent job market and the specter of foreclosure on the family home.

While there's no telling what the economic future holds, there are steps families can take to gain greater control of their finances and put themselves in a better position to handle whatever the economy throws at them down the road.

* Start saving receipts. Nowadays, more and more people use debit cards for daily purchases, including smaller purchases like cups of coffee. While this is more convenient, it also makes it easier to lose track of spending. Families should start saving receipts for all purchases, not just big-ticket items. At the end of the month, examine the receipts to see how much frivolous spending is going on. A close examination of receipts can help reign in spending on items that aren't generally large, but can add up over time.

* Make a grocery shopping list. Another tradition of yesteryear that has seemingly fallen by the wayside, the grocery list can help families save substantial amounts of money over time. Men and women who grocery shop without a list are more likely to spend more money than they had intended, buying extra food they don't need and making impulse buys as well. If you have a list of what you need when you go to the store, you'll not only save money but also you're likely to spend far less time at the store as a result.

* Re-examine your commute. Men and women might prefer driving themselves to work. Driving to work alone is more convenient, but it's almost never more cost-effective. Consider public transportation where it's available. Public transportation can remove the stress from traffic jams, as men and women can bury their noses in books or watch a movie on their iPads rather than stare at the vehicle in front of them. If no public transportation is available, propose a carpool to co-workers. Both of these alternatives can save individuals money on gas (the cost of which is once again on the rise) while adding years to their vehicle's life expectancy, helping commuters get more out of their vehicle dollars.

* Reconsider your cable provider. Whereas cable television was once a novelty, nowadays cable television or satellite service has become the norm in households across the country. Though it might be hard to imagine a household without cable or satellite television, Web programming and DVD subscription services have made it much easier for men and women to continue to follow their favorite shows without committing to a costly monthly cable or satellite service.

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