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What do you guys think....

September 19th, 2011 at 10:54 pm

I have a monthly personal finance column in one of the local papers. I need your advice. My next article is the first in a series on how to free up money in your monthly budget to save. This first one is the hard one, because it's kind of an intro of the basics. Then, I'm hoping to do more specific articles after, like on no spend months, debt snowflaking, etc.

I guess I don't know where to start. Any ideas?

And, I have a column coming up about Christmas and Holiday gifts on a budget. I really don't know where to start with that/. HELP!

5 Responses to “What do you guys think....”

  1. Petunia 100 Says:

    I suggest you start with the concept of tracking money and making sure that your budget includes everything you need and spend money on. You can talk about the direct relationship between reduction in spending and increase in savings. In future columns you can examine different ways to reduce spending.

    BTW, what a neat gig! I am jealous. Smile

  2. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    Household tips to free up money monthly:

    1. Brown bag your lunch - work and school. Start with logging for a week how many times you eat out (anything bigger than a vending machine purchase!). Now stop making 3 of those purchases a week. Or stop making all lunch purchases. Switch to home brewed coffee in a to-go cup (if they are coffeehouse indulgences). Make a hearty home made soup (in the slow cooker even) and take a tureen for lunch with an added crusty roll from the grocery. This tip can fill several columns already!

    2. Do a similar column on entertainment expenses. Log for a week the expenses made on movies, books, etc. Change one or more of those into a less expensive alternative, ie rent a movie, visit the library, and try something FREE such as a visit to volunteer at the Humane Society or another charity.

    3. Ditto for clothing expenses.

    4. Finally, get their craft on for holiday gifting.

  3. My English Castle Says:

    How about scaling down holiday spending? Family gifts instead of individual?
    Is your first one an overview? Saving as a lifestyle vs saving for a goal? Hmmm debt paydown?

  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    I'm thinking the first one will be more broad ways to think about money and budgets. Like I have a financial planner saying that money is like liquid. If you don't make an effort to contain it, it will just dribble away from you until it's gone. I liked that idea, and wanted to build on it. He said people don't pay attention because they hate budgets and the idea of budgets, and most people don't have the patience to stick with writing down what they spend in a notebook. I kind of wanted to address that.

    I am stumped on the holiday one. I want to offer useful advice for those who are buying gifts-- which is just about everyone-- and how to be realistic about what to spend, and how to avoid retail traps, etc. but it seems like such a big subject to tackle with so little space.

  5. baselle Says:

    I'm going to give you a very different approach here. This will only work if you are genuinely at the level of needing to free up money. In other words, if you are living precisely at your means - saving nothing but nose above water. In a sense, if you are there, you are at a financial set point - perhaps you are a hair lazy and not a data freak, but you've managed some self control on the fly and not spend insanely.

    My approach is to just save the money first. I would sign up for $10/$20 transfer from checking to savings at payday or the day after, then try to feel the frugal burn and not put the money back. See if you can adjust your financial set point down that hair. Try it for a couple of paydays. Then I would put a monthly note to myself - Outlook works well - to add $10 to the transfer. See if you can adjust it again.

    I think in a sense we all do this here. I don't really remember reading about anybody planning on the freeing up of money first. We save and we see if we can get away with it. Its harder to free up the money to save than it is to save.

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