Saving For A Brighter Day

With less discretionary income, many Americans are wondering how to set aside cash for emergencies. Here are a few tips on how to squeeze the most value out of the money you make.

monthly income. Be sure you allocate as much as possible to the category “savings and investments;” 10% to 15% of your gross income is ideal. Getting the inflow and outgo to agree may take some doing, but persevere until your budget balances.

4: At the end of each month, see how close you came to your budgeted amounts. Once you figure out whether your spending was over or under your budget, jot an explanation into the column next to major variances. If you consistently exceed your budget, you will have to adjust your spending habits or find a way to increase your income so that you can accommodate your extra spending.

Using a computerized program such as Quicken or Microsoft Money will make tracking your expenses much easier, because it does the math for you as you go along. A budget won’t give you more money each month, but sticking to it will leave you with more at the end of each month. You and your partner should both be clear about the budget for your household. Setting guidelines together can go a long way toward helping you avoid conflicts and achieve your financial goals.

Keep Track of Your Cash
If you’re careful about expenditures you pay for by check but undisciplined when it comes to spending cash, keep close track of your cash expenses. Each time you take out your wallet at a cash register, before you put your wallet away, step to the side and jot down the expenditure in a small notebook you carry with you. The habit will soon become automatic, and by taking this extra step, you’ll begin to think critically about each expenditure, rather than impulsively buying things you don’t really need and may not even want.

10 Clever Tips For Savvy Savers
Saving money takes some ingenuity and bargain-hunting acumen. But don’t confuse bargain hunting with saving money. If you buy something on sale you didn’t need or budget for, no matter how good the deal, you’ve just spent money you didn’t have.

The following strategies can help you trim costs across several categories, and keep your savings plan on track:

1: Clipping coupons. Coupons are great for saving money, especially for groceries and other items you buy regularly. Check your local paper and the weekly circular at your supermarket for the best deals, and if your store offers a discount club card, be sure to sign up. If you save even $5 a week, that’s $260 a year — which is money that can be invested toward long-term goals.

2: Stretching your clothing dollars. It’s easy to look like a million bucks without spending a fortune. Outlet malls and chain stores like Loeh-mann’s, T.J. Maxx, and Filene’s Basement offer designer clothing at a steep discount from retail rates. Update your outfits with accessories, rather than buying a whole new wardrobe each season.

3: Finding furniture bargains.If you need a house full of furniture, buy your furniture by phone or Internet from North Carolina, where the major furniture manufacturers are located. Even including

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