Disposable income. If this phrase sounds like an oxymoron to
you, you're not alone.
"Have you ever heard anyone say my net worth is too high, or I
have too much disposable income? The chances are very slim," says
Gail Perry-Mason, an investment broker and author of Money Matters
The recession has hit families hard and whether you're in a
major financial pinch or just never seem to have any extra, making
the most of your money is a skill that can benefit every household
budget. "It's time for home economics. Make some layoffs at home.
If corporate America can lay off, so can your family," says
Try a few of these easy adjustments that can save your family
$50 or more each month-without cramping your lifestyle.
At the store: Try generics, private labels and
store brands. According to Perrigo, the world's largest producer of
store brand over-the-counter drugs and vitamins, consumers would
save $2 billion each year by switching from advertised brands to
store-brand, over-the- counter drugs.
At home: Packaged ant traps can cost almost $5,
but a little cayenne pepper sprinkled along the baseboards may do
the trick, suggests Everyday Cheapskate (www.cheapskatemonthly.com), which offers
suggestions on how to create homemade cleaning products, beauty
aids and simple health remedies that can save you big bucks.
At the ATM: Fees for ATM use can range from $1
to $3 for an automated teller not part of your bank's network. If
you withdraw money even once a week, you can rack up to $12 a month
in charges. If you must make a withdrawal and pay the fee, take out
extra cash, tuck it away and withdraw straight from your wallet for
At the movies: Two adult movie tickets to a
prime-time show can cost $20 if you pre-buy tickets online. A
matinee showing of the same flick can be $13 for tickets purchased
at the counter. Save even more by taking advantage of the
pay-per-view option from your cable service or renting a DVD from
the local video store.
On TV: For cable subscribers, basic services
can cost under $20 a month and include many major channels.
Look for some of your favorite programs on Hulu.com or network
Web sites for free. Cutting back on a few special channels or
downgrading even one subscription level can save you lots each
At the post office: The average American who
pays bills online can save up to $45 each year by not paying for
postage, not including the cost of checks. Bill pay features on
your bank checking account are often free. Drop off bills for
utilities at local payment centers, deliver insurance payments to
the neighborhood office and pay merchants like Kohl's and Target at
the customer service desk.
Against the clock: Lenders charge hefty late
fees on credit cards, mortgages and car loans, which can hurt your
bank account as well as your credit rating if you're even a day
late. In the case of an exceptional circumstance when you can't
make a payment, call the lender to protect yourself and your credit
Sharon Cindrich is a mother of two tech-savvy kids from Virginia Beach. Learn more at sharoncindrich.com.
See more of Sharon's stories here.
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