We’re all trying to find a financial “comfort zone”, especially in this economy. Budgeting your money wisely this year will help keep you from stressing about debt and other obligations, and let you focus more on building assets.
Online resources offer a wealth of information about managing your money and saving more this year. Check out these tips for budgeting in 2011:
1. Use the new money tools. U.S. News & World Report’s Kimberly Palmer has compiled some new online tools that anyone can use to track spending and net worth, and organize their finances. Check them out and see which ones will be most helpful.
Sign up for the Chase Marriott Rewards Card and earn rewards points that equal 4 free nights.
2. Negotiate. Most people don’t know this, but you don’t always have to accept stated rates and prices. You can often get better rates on everything from hotel rooms to medical services simply by asking for them.
Financial blogger Brad Tuttle offers this advice: “Ask your doctor if there's any way you can pay less. That goes for any of his services, as well as prescription drugs, tests, and treatments… Nobody's going to cut you a break unless you ask for it”. So, don't be afraid to ask!
Take advantage of retailer incentives. Weight Watchers offers free sign up for their weight loss programs.
3. Shop online. Internet retailers often give incentives to online shoppers in the form of coupon savings, free shipping and special pricing. Many online consumers do not pay tax, either. Online coupons, coupon codes and printable coupons saved shoppers over $1 billion in 2010, and coupon sites make it easy to find the latest deal.
Overstock.com has bargain pricing on bedding and home furnishings. Score a down comforter for only $35.
4. Be thrifty- It used to be a bad word. But with money tight for many, thriftiness is back in fashion. Think about ways that you can make your dollar stretch further. Consider clothing exchanges , keeping an eye on the cost of family meals and looking for the best deals on bigger ticket items such as home electronics and furniture. Taking the time to research prices helps to curb impulse buying.
Eating out? Don't pay full price! Restaurant.com offers 80% off at over 15,000 restaurants nationwide.
Online computer deals offer big savings to consumers. Get HP computers for up to $500 off through Microsoft.
5. Increase savings/reduce debt. Saving and reducing debt are key to putting yourself on more solid financial ground. There are many strategies you can use to achieve this goal. Before you visit your financial advisor, research some of them online.
When you charge, choose credit cards that offer cash back. With the Chase Sapphire card, spend $500 and get bonus points redeemable for $100.
Budgeting in 2012 means knowing exactly where your hard-earned money is going. Smart shopping, better money management and even a little bit of haggling will go a long way toward making you more comfortable, at least financially.