Tightening Your Belt

Ten Simple Money-Saving Tips For The New Year

F are out of your life. If you need to free up more money, then maybe the Cs can go away, too. You will be amazed how much money re-enters your life.”

Once you’ve finished your two-week assignment and are ready to initiate some strict self-discipline, you are ready to implement the following money-saving tips:

1. RENEGOTIATE THE INTEREST ON YOUR DEBT. If you have been paying your debt in a timely manner, you’ve got leverage. Call your creditors and ask for a lower interest rate (below 9%). You can also transfer your balances to a lower interest credit card. Just be aware that the interest rate may only be offered on a temporary basis, so you need to pay off the balance in full before the special offer ends.

2. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF NEW TAX LAWS. Connect with your accountant early so you can get the full benefit of the new tax laws. Also, you might ask for suggestions on how to currently restructure your finances so you can get a jump on this year’s taxes.

3. BUY A HOME. If you can afford it, the current interest rate makes it a perfect time to buy a home. If not, you should find ways to save for a down payment. Consider getting a roommate or border to split the costs of your household bills so you can save money and build a little nest egg. In some cases, move in with a parent or other relative to save even more money. “Take about three-fourths of the rent payment that you would have saved and put it in a money market account. In 12 months, you may have the equivalent of a down payment for a home, if that’s what you are saving for. If you make the sacrifice for 12 months, it will allow you to have more flexibility in your planning,” says Erwin M. Matthews, CPA, owner of E. Matthews & Associates, a financial advisory branch of American Express.

4. CURTAIL YOUR PERSONAL EXPENSES. Ladies can choose a simple hairstyle that is not too costly or high maintenance. Males can choose to go bald. Fletcher pays $65 weekly to get Zaikeyah’s hair done. She spends $65 every two months on her own braids, and $30 each month on a pedicure. If consumers save only $15 per month on a manicure, they will have $8,933 over 25 years, assuming a 5% annual rate of return. “If you [frequent salons] consider pampering yourself at home instead of going to the salon for manicures, pedicures, and hairstyling. Enlist the help of a friend, if needed, and save the cost of a salon visit for special occasions,” says Blandin.

5. DECREASE YOUR TRIPS TO THE DRY CLEANERS. When possible, buy clothing that is machine washable. For “dry clean only” items, consider using Dryel (www .dryel.com), a product that enables you to freshen up your clothes and remove light stains by using your home dryer. Also, use a few squirts of Febreze (www.febreze.com) to rid your clothes of

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