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Five Easy Money-Saving Tips

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Trick yourself during America Saves Week!

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Saving money is something everyone works on but few can really master, so I put together a few tips everyone can abide by to make your savings account a little healthier than it is right now.

Pretend to Have a Vice

Addictions are real money wasters, anyone who has one will ruefully look down as they tell you. Whether it be cigarettes and alcohol or gum and chocolate, even the most innocent and ingrained habits make a dent in the budget.

Keep a jar on the bookshelf and label it with your imaginary habit, or even one you're trying to give up. Feed into it as if you need to stow the money away to indulge yourself. I haven't ever smoked in my life, and drink very sparingly. I keep a jar on the kitchen counter for alcohol and one by the door for cigarettes. I drop all of my spare change and the occasional fiver in there to feed my non-existent habit and at end of the month, I've got enough to treat myself. Keeping them going for the whole year can give you a holiday.

And if you're trying to kick that chocolate habit, seeing the money you're saving on Hershey (HSY) Kisses pile up will really motivate you to never pick it up again.

Account for Extra Children

We all know that children can be a serious hamper on financial plans. But a child can be the most important lesson your banking ever learns.

If you have one child, save for two. If you have two, save for three, and so on. If you're childless like me, just put aside a few dollars that you would spend on that whimsical ice cream your fictional child would have.

I'm not talking school fees here or the wardrobe updates they need as they grow older, just a Mattel (MAT) toy or the cost of an extra McDonald's (MCD) Happy Meal when you go out. It's amazing how it adds up and is great practice just in case a child is added to your life.

Substitute

Going out probably accounts for most of the budget after bills and groceries. But do you really need it? Do you need to go to the cinema or could you rent a movie from Blockbuster (BBI)? Even borrow one from friends. And anything you make for yourself to munch on is bound to be not only healthier, but more in tune with your particular craving.

Will you really be missing out if you don't go to that concert? Sitting at the back of a concert hall and squinting, or worse, on grass getting eaten by bugs. If you're not going backstage, just buy the album and play it really loud.

Romantic dinners are even more romantic when they're candlelit and home cooked. It's cheaper and easier, and you can wear your lingerie to the table.

Save the World, and Your Money

Reducing your power and water bills will make a pretty big difference in the long run, even by only a few dollars each time. This really speaks for itself, the less you use your utilities, the less you pay for them. And your carbon footprint is reduced too, so it's win-win.

Overdo It

Forward payments. I can't say enough about these beauties, they've saved me thousands. Put in a little more toward rent, mortgage repayments, utility bills.

If you give the utilities a little more money, it just means they'll put it as credit on your next bill. Do this coming in to the heat of summer to save on your air-conditioning, and in the lead up to the depths of winter to save on your heating bills.

Over-paying on mortgage repayments means giving that little bit more; I find it good to round up to the nearest fifty- or even hundred-dollar mark. When you're tight on cash you can relax and know that the payment isn't going to knock you down, and every time you add to it, the overall interest goes down, saving you thousands over the term of your mortgage.

If you're renting, adding a little more to your rent means your landlord thinks you're the best tenant they've ever had, and you're covered if you get snowed under, or if you go on holiday and don't want to pay for it when you're not there.

It's not hard to save that extra dollar, and a little really does add up. Above all, take care of yourself. You're the only one guaranteed to be there next year.

This story was written by Hayley for DivineCaroline.
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