MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK: EIGHT MONEY-SAVING TIPS

Less work and more money? This idealistic mantra might sound like an unattainable dream, but might in fact be closer than you think. You can increase your money supply without increasing your hours just by avoiding excessive spending in the first place. Most people refer to this plan as a budget, or spending plan.

Below are a few ideas to get the most out of your money:

Create a spending plan. Some people have negative associations with the word "budget." A budget does not necessarily mean you are going to do without. Create a plan including all of your monthly expenses. Once you start planning your spending, you might find you are spending more wisely.

Never forget to pay yourself first. Savings should always be at the top of your spending plan. If you wait until the end of the month to put money away, you might find there is little left to invest. As a general rule, always save 10% of your salary before spending the rest.

Keep good records. If you record your expenditures for a month, including small items like coffee and snacks, you might be surprised to find how quickly little purchases add up. At the end of the month, assess your spending pattern accordingly; once you see where your money goes, you might make better choices regarding your spending.

Live within your means. Assess each purchase thoroughly by asking if you really need to buy. When contemplating a larger purchase, a good strategy to remember is to walk away from the item or leave the store, and think about the purchase. Sometimes the pressure of the environment can force you to buy something you really don't need or want. Walking away gives you the opportunity to think clearly, and if you truly want the item you can return to the store.

Shop for value. It always pays to compare prices. You might even want to consider buying items you use regularly in bulk. Watch for sales and consider buying used cars or appliances, since the depreciation of the first one to two years can save you plenty of money.

Cut back on debt. Think of a credit card as a commitment to pay for the item out of money you have yet to earn. Never owe more than you can pay off in one or two paychecks. Finance charges can deprive you of more of your hard-earned money, which is just like throwing it away. If you can't afford it, you shouldn't buy it.

Choose to eat in. Dining out is very expensive; Drinks and desserts at a restaurant are costly items, and the tip adds 15%-20% more to your food costs. Save dining out for special occasions, rather than on days when you don't feel like cooking. By planning meals in advance and shopping from that plan, you will never have "nothing to eat." There are also excellent online recipe guides that list several menus from the same ingredients, so you won't waste any groceries.

Reduce housing costs. This fixed expense can sometimes be unnecessary. If you can, try downsizing to a smaller house or apartment. If you rent and plan on staying in the area for a while, consider buying a place. Buying a house is an investment, while renting is usually a waste of money.

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