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10 Top Tips to Save More of Your Money

Americans have good intentions to save money, but the majority of us don't. In fact, among developed countries, Americans are the most likely to be cash strapped, with 22 percent having no money to spare after paying their bills -- and spending the rest -- each month, according to a 2006 ACNielsen survey.

money-saving tips

If you want to save money, you've got to prioritize your needs over your wants.

There are two ways to increase the amount of money you have to save. Earn more, or cut back on the amount you spend. Assuming you don't want to take a second job, and a raise is not in the foreseeable future, here are the top, manageable ways to save a significant amount of cash.

  1. Know what to buy used. Often, you can save a pretty penny by being savvy about used items. Cars are almost always a better deal when they're used (they depreciate in value about 15-20 percent each year), as are items for kids, CDs, DVDs, office furniture, and jewelry.

  2. Let your money work for you. Rather than putting your savings into a regular bank savings account (which typically pay yields of 0.2 to 0.5 percent), put it in a money market account with 4-5 percent yields. (If you want to make potentially more than that, consider stocks, mutual funds or other forms of investments also.)

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Money Savvy Pig

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  1. Determine your wants vs. your needs. Spend money on necessities, then really critique whether your "wants" are worth it. Limit yourself to only one "want" item a month, every two months or -- for the very disciplined and motivated -- a year.

  2. Smoke? Quit. Someone who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day stands to save over $2,000 a year by quitting smoking.

  3. Prepare food at home. You'd be amazed at how quickly your workday eat-out lunches add up. Add to that take-out dinners and you'd stand to save easily $100 or more a month by preparing your meals at home instead.

  4. Have fun without breaking the bank. Baseball games, movies and amusement parks are fun, but they can cost you a small fortune. It's quite possible to entertain yourself and your family without spending a lot of money.

  5. Resist impulse buying. If you're thinking of buying a new couch, bbq grill, car or other big ticket item, make sure that you really want it, then shop around. Comparison shopping costs nothing but a small amount of your time, and could pay off big time. Also be wary of the marketing tricks designed to make you want to impulse buy.

  6. Reassess your fixed monthly bills every six months. Phone, cable and insurance companies are always changing their rates to stay competitive. Every six months, shop around to see if a lower rate is available, or at least call the phone/cable company you currently use and tell them you want the same introductory special that they're giving to new customers.

  7. Shop wisely for clothing. Rather than buying the latest trend as soon as it comes out, make a pledge to wait for a sale. Most items will go on sale at the end of the season, or you can search at resale shops for even bigger discounts.

bringing your lunch to work

Small sacrifices, like bringing your lunch to work instead of eating out, can save you big money over time.

  1. Get the most out of your mortgage. Depending on your situation, it may save you money in the long run to refinance. Meanwhile, if you plan to stay where you are until your mortgage is paid off, you can save $51,000 in interest by paying an extra $100 a month toward your principle (based on a $150,000 mortgage).

Recommended Reading

How NOT to Get Ripped Off at the Grocery Store

Kids and Money: 5 Keys to Teaching Kids Money Management Skills


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