Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wall Street Wednesday - Your Bottom Line

Are you trying to save money and "cut back" so you can simplify and keep your finances in order this year? Elizabeth Warren writes in her fascinating book The Two-Income Trap that an effective way to save money is to not necessarily cut back in "fun" areas, but to look at the big, non-negotiable things in your monthly budget. If you are limiting your search for cash leaks to eating out and recreational things, think about keeping the fun and try looking at the bottom line instead.

 If you haven't, now would be a good time to see what all the choices are available to you for your energy service to see what you can do to "plug in" to more cheaply.  Did you know that there are even some budding direct sales and network marketing methods for getting your electricity cheaper! Since this surely varies greatly by locale, consider investing in LED lights and updated fixtures as well, adding one new thing per month, or as your budget allows. We cut our bill IN HALF over time by doing this! It's also great if you have kids who are still learning how to turn lights off when they leave the room! If you have mostly gas, call your electric company and see what perks they have for someone who would be willing to switch to electric.You never know what programs they might have if you don't ask! I once saw an ad in Florida once for a free water heater if you switch!

Phone, internet, and television are astronomically expensive these days. Check your options. If you find something cheaper, call your company and tell them frankly you are thinking of switching. They may lower your rate to keep your business. Also, bundling these things together may be available in your area, but check carefully as to whether or not it is the best deal for YOUR needs. For example, is everyone in your family a gamer? Do you really need that screaming fast internet? Can you still manage with slower (cheaper) speeds? Would you be willing to delete cable and keep up on your favorite shows online? (I LOVE being able to "miss" most of the commercials AND watch when I'm ready FOR FREE!)

Phone and cellphone service is a horse of a different color from what it was just a few years ago. Make sure you don't have MORE phone than you need, and check into services like Vonage, Magic Jack, and Skype. I currently use Skype on my wi-fi enabled smartphone to make calls when I have wi-fi. This allows me to have a very low priced cellphone plan, and still be able to make calls.

If you own a home, monitor for a yearly reappraisal. This may adjust your mortgage rate and allow you to take a bigger stab at your principal with an extra yearly payment!

Let me know which of these and what other "bottom line" money-saving ideas you are implementing!

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