Save money in the new yearOne of the most common New Year's resolutions is to save money, but this may be easier said than done. Financial expert Erica Sandberg joins Easy Does It host Ereka Vetrini to help tighten your purse strings with some money-saving solutions.
Sandberg says that before you start thinking about making more money or having a budget, the most important thing you need to first is get rid of your debt. "Put yourself on a plastic diet," she says. "Totally stop using the card while you are paying that debt off." She suggests giving yourself goals-for example, "I'm going to put $500 toward my credit card debt every single month, and I'm going to be out of debt by May."
Related: 6 new ways to tame credit card debt
Debit cards can also be problematic, as they may come with high overdraft fees. In addition, "if you're constantly going to the ATM and if it's not your particular bank, you've got fees associated with it," Sandberg says, noting that these types of fees are a waste of money.
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Instead of talking about a "budget," Sandberg says you should call it a "spending plan." She adds, "Get the whole family involved. Have everybody understand where all that money is going every month in all these different categories. Print it out and give it to them." She notes that there are many great tools online that can help your family with this new spending plan, including Mint and Quicken.
If you need help designing your spending plan, Sandberg suggests going looking to consumer credit counseling services for free assistance. "They're nonprofit organizations and they're really there for you, so get the assistance that's out there," she says.
As for tips for saving money every day, Sandberg suggests reducing your spending at the grocery store. "Know what you're going to be spending before you walk in the door," she says, "and really take a look at your expenses." For example, meat can be expensive, so consider a vegetarian meal once a week to reduce costs. "And also take a look at those items that you consistently spend money on," she adds, "Things like paper products-toilet paper and paper towels."
Sandberg's all-time favorite tip, she says, is to do your shopping online. She explains that if you don't go into the store, you won't be distracted, you can track how much money you're spending, and you won't be embarrassed if you need to put an item back. Plus, it's time effective.
When it comes to bills for such services as cable, Internet, and cell phones, Sandberg says that at this time of year, the companies are eager to give out great deals-as long as you make a call. "Get on the phone and see what they have for you now," she says. "You'll probably have a better deal available to you with a five-minute phone call. "
To help make your spending plan stick, Sandberg recommends working with a friend who the same goal in mind instead of handling the plan on your own. That person can help hold you accountable as you work together.
Finally, Sandberg says, "Give yourself a couple of goals. Know how much money you can assign to your debt every single month--and stick to it. Put it on your calendar, and really make it a priority. It's so important."
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