piggy bank

By Michelle Sharrow, MBA – Family Finance

If I told you that I could help you reach your financial goals a lot sooner than you had plan, would you believe me?  If I also told you that you didn’t need a penny, would you think that it was too good to be true?  Well, it’s not and I actually am doing just that in this month’s column. 

Do you have the opportunity to telecommute at least one day a week?  Are you taking advantage of it?  In major cities such as Washington, D.C., the average commute cost per year is over $6,000 which takes into account parking fees, gas, and vehicle maintenance.  Imagine how much of that $6,000 you could save if you were to work from home just one day a week for 52 weeks? Even just ten percent would be a nice amount to boost a savings account.  In addition to cost savings, you also could save as much as three hours per week in commuting time, depending on where you live, for a total of 156 hours per year.  That is time that you could devote to other money saving tasks such as coupon clipping.

Read the inserts from your monthly gas, electric, and water bills.  The inserts are often filled with advice and tips on how to lower your monthly costs by using energy efficient bulbs, replacing your thermostat and unplugging small appliances, among other things. Additionally, the inserts also show you your energy usage compared to your neighbors.  Savvy savers could use this as an opportunity to get outside and explore new efficiencies with the neighbors.

You also can save by taking a few extra minutes to check behind your kids as they go about their days.  They often leave lights, televisions, and electronic equipment on without thinking about it.  Turn them off to save the life of your items, reduce your energy expenses, and use this as an opportunity to teach your children how to be efficient.

To the extent that it is feasible and doesn’t require you to spend money that you weren’t planning to spend, take advantage of freebies.  Many restaurants such as Cici’s Pizza and The Green Turtle allow children to dine for free with a paying adult on certain nights of the week.  Additionally, some of the same restaurants send coupons through the mail for free items with a purchase. Keep these coupons together in an easy to access place and flip through them before you go out.

Don’t you hate going to a department store and realizing that you forgot a coupon? If you receive a coupon and even if you are on the fence about using it, go ahead and place it in your car or wallet as soon as you can.  By adopting this habit, you’ll ensure that your chances of missing out on savings are minimal.  Also, if you remember the coupon and only a day has passed, call the store to see if they will still accept it.  They might surprise you!

In tough economic times, it is nice to know that you can save money and reach your financial goals without pressuring yourself to earn more.  Also, the more you communicate with others, the more likely you are to learn a new way to save.

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle Sharrow

Michelle P. Sharrow, MBA is a seasoned freelance writer specializing in personal finance. Based in Waldorf, Maryland, she holds a Masters Degree with a concentration in Finance. Michelle provides a monthly column on ways to help families maintain their finances and stick to a budget titled, Budgeting and Savings for Families.

More Family Finance:

http://extension.usu.edu/utah/htm/family-finance

http://extension.oregonstate.edu/fch/healthy-families/family-finances

http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Money/Personal-Finance.shtml
Michelle Sharrow

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