Save in every area of your budget for long-term rewards

This was originally published on Monday, March 18, 2013, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

We work hard for our money, so why shouldn’t we enjoy it? Here are some tips that could save you money so you can enjoy more of what you earn.

Food. We all have to eat. Take time and look at circulars and compare prices. Coupons are great, but be aware that some require you to buy more than what you need. It makes no sense to spend more money to buy an extra item or two to save a few cents. Plan your meals in advance and make a grocery list. Stick to the list when shopping. Sometimes it is more economical to buy in bulk. If you find a meat that you use regularly on sale, purchase it because meats freeze for several months.

Entertainment. Consider how often you watch TV. Can you live without your cable or premium channels? I recently cancelled the high definition channels, the digital video recording and downgraded to the least costly internet service in my house and it saved me almost one half the monthly expense. The internet offers websites to watch your favorite TV shows or watch movies. Some are free and others may require a monthly payment which is usually cheaper than what you pay for cable. Eliminating cable service to your home is called “cutting the cord.” There are even certain websites dedicated to renting or downloading books. Public libraries are free to use as well.

Impulsive shopping. Before buying something you want think “Do I really need it?” Walk around the store and think about it or try giving it a week to decide. Many stores put little items by the registers just to encourage you to spend more.

Money vs. cards. If possible, carry cash instead of using your check or credit card. It’s easier for you to keep track of what you spend. Psychologically, it’s harder to spend the actual cash.

Bundling. It may be wise to bundle your phone, internet, cellphone and cable, if possible. Be aware of extra charges such as limited data usage or calling fees. Look at what your average talk time is on your cellphone. Are you going under or over? If your usage is under the amount you are paying, change plans.

De-clutter. Go through your kids’ clothes or toys and around the house. Find items that you no longer need and have a yard sale.

Homemade products. You may not notice how much you spend on cleaning supplies. There are websites that can teach you how to make homemade cleaning products. They cost less to make and are safe for you and the environment.

Laundry. Try to wait to do your laundry with a full load. Wash clothes in the coolest temperature your clothes will tolerate.

Turning off the water. When washing dishes, bathing, washing hands, or brushing teeth make it a habit to turn off the water when not in use.

These tips may not provide lots of money up front, but if you take what you saved and place it in a savings account, in a few months you will see it grow.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years experience in retail banking and with financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at and read past columns at the Money Matters blog


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