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Budgeting quick cash: Find extra money in your budget right now

Budget smart
Budget smart
Nikolai Sorokin/

Are you looking to find a few extra dollars in your budget? It just might be easier than you think. Take a quick look at your household budget and see if you can find savings in a few simple areas:

1.  Insurance.  Do you have too much insurance?  Are you paying for bells-and-whistles you don't really need in your policy?  Can you afford to raise your deductible? Re-evaluate your insurance needs every year.  As your children grow, your jobs change, and life goes on your insurance needs change along with it.  It is also smart to check rates with various insurance companies every few years. Often companies will offer new customers the best rates.

2.  Memberships.  Think about all the memberships you currently have; gym memberships, shopping clubs and store memberships, social clubs, and so on.  How many of them do you really use?  Is it worth your money to pay for yearly memberships to warehouse stores, or is there a cheaper alternative?

3.  Magazines and subscriptions.  As a writer, it pains me to tell you that newspapers are quickly becoming a dying breed of printed medium.  However, it is reality that most news can now be found easily online.  Odds are, if you are reading this, you already are pretty savvy at finding information online.  Can you trim your budget here?  If there is a particular magazine you really love, perhaps share a subscription with a friend or family member.  Doing so isn't only budget-conscious, it's also greener for our Earth!

4.  Non-essentials. We all have our vices.  It might be expensive coffee, the newest bestselling books, or designer shoes and purses.  No matter what your spending vice is, we can always learn to curb it a little bit better.  How many new purses do you really need? Can you make your gourmet coffee at home for less money? Think about the little areas where we tend to overspend and resolve tighten up your wallet and your willpower.

5. Creature comforts. As much as you think you need to have the cable package with all the movie channels, you probably don't! Pick just one or two "creature comforts" that bring you pleasure and resolve to do without the rest.  Americans tend to be spoiled and think we deserve the best of the best in everything. Sometimes the easiest budget-busting tactic is to get rid of some of our splurges like movie channels and the coffee-of-the-month club.

These are just a few quick tips to get you started thinking about saving in your budget for the upcoming year. Don't feel bad if you can't tackle each of these areas.  Baby steps are a great start!

There is no dignity quite so impressive and no independence so important as living within your means.
-Calvin Coolidge


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