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My Two Cents

How to save more

Chris Farrell May 19, 2009

I got a note the other day from Henry “Bud” Hebeler. He runs the financial website analyzenow.com. Bud’s advice is always good. In his note he said that ” you know things are tough when even our local Kent, WA, courts are offering to let people pay their fines using a “flexible payment plan.” People are searching both for ways to save in this environment as well as to find prudent ways to invest their money.”

Here are his ideas. Hopefully, you’ll find some savings inspiration.

Save more:

Decide how much you should be saving as the first step. (Web sites can help with this.)

Establish a lower family budget that satisfies your savings goal and stay within it.

Arrange for automatic savings deposits from your paychecks.

Sell things you don’t really need on the Net or elsewhere.

Downsize your home or rent. Renting provides mobility to get jobs elsewhere in the country.

Move in with relatives or friends.

Grow your own vegetables.

Buy items with cash, not with loans.

Rule out cars, cell phones or IPods for children–or even for yourselves.

Make do with old computers, and software. Use no downloads requiring payments.

May be able to get lower cost TV, internet and telephone services.

Turn down the thermostat and wear sweaters.

Consider refinancing your mortgage if interest rates now significantly lower.

Older people may not need life insurance or long-term-care insurance.

Increase your income:

Rent out a room in your house.

Get a second career. Perhaps teach, start delivery service, tutor, etc.

See about part or full time employment for an unemployed spouse.

Encourage teenagers to work on weekends and pay for some of their own expenses.
Invest prudently:

Reduce personal debts. When debt interest rates are higher than the return you can get from investments, paying debt off early is usually the best investment you can make.

Consider Savings I bonds for the entire family. They are available from local banks and treasurydirect.gov.

Invest in certificates of deposits (CDs). (Available from many sources. See bankrate.com)

Buy Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS) in self directed IRAs or from treasurydirect.gov.

Take advantage of tax deductions, Roth IRAs and 401(k)s and tax-exempt bonds if you are in a higher income bracket.

Use FDIC insured accounts for immediate cash needs.

Buy bonds, not bond funds. (Increasing interest rates will destroy bond fund principal.)

Change to mutual funds with low upfront costs, low management fees and no kickbacks to advisors.

Use financial advisors with low fees and no commissions.

Good health is the best medical and long-term-care insurance you can buy.

I recently was operated on by one of the most famous orthopedic surgeons. Not noted for his bedside manners, he gave both my wife and me a lecture on eating lots of dark green vegetables and fish, but no red meat or deserts. Then he gave me a number of pages describing exercises I should do. So–

Eat only healthy foods

Exercise and keep weight under control.

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