Entertainment, Health and Lifestyle

The Best Money Advice You’ll Ever Get

What we all really need is the money-saving know-how that will stand strong throughout life and help us build a nest egg. So I asked some prominent experts how they save. What could we all be doing better? Their answers may surprise you. They’re not complicated at all — just simple, commonsense wisdom that will have you saying, “I can do that!”

Money You Don’t See, You Don’t Miss

“Face it, once money hits your wallet or checking account, it’s as good as gone. The trick is to make sure you never see the money in the first place. Then you won’t have to fret about how to save it — or feel guilty that you didn’t. Your employer, bank or credit union can transfer money from your paycheck automatically into your savings or investment account — or accounts you set up for clothes, vacation or a new car. Then you can relax, knowing it’s taken care of.” — Janet Bodnar, editor, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine.

Eat from Your Pantry and Freezer Once or Twice a Month

“Dust off your cookbooks or do a few Internet searches. Create a week-long meal plan for how you’ll use up what you’ve already got. During the same week, challenge yourself to spend just $20 to $40 for the week at the grocery store. Get some cash from the ATM (so you’re not tempted to spend more on this challenge) and then pick up basics: produce, milk and eggs. This is a chance to save a little extra money in your grocery budget and also experiment to discover a new family favorite.” — Erin Chase, author of “The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook” and founder of the popular blog 5DollarDinners.com

Stack Discounts

“You can usually match a store sale with a printed-out coupon or online coupon code. One year, I managed to get $350 worth of clothing from Macy’s for free! I combined free gift cards from credit card rewards, a 25-percent-off store coupon and a 20 percent rebate for opening a store credit card account (plus, many items were on sale). Actually, the rebate resulted in Macy’s paying me: It wiped out the account balance and left me with a $4 credit for my next purchase.” — Kelli B. Grant, deputy personal finance editor for CNBC digital

Lower Your Expectations

“It’s our expectations that get us into trouble. We think we need the latest clothes or gadgets, so we spend more than we can afford. One way to counter this longing for new things is to make use of the stuff you already own. Watch the DVDs that have been sitting under your television for the past eight years. Read those books you bought but never opened. Treat your own home like a shopping mall. You just might be surprised at how much good stuff you already have.” — J.D. Roth, editor of the personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly (GetRichSlowly.org) and author of “Your Money: The Missing Manual”

Don’t Forget to Spend on Joy

“We need to make some room in our budgets for the experiences that build memories and closeness with others: family vacations (even if they’re simple), time with our spouse, coffee with our friends. When we’re doing that, it’s easier to cut back on the stuff that matters a lot less.” — Liz Weston, CFP, personal finance columnist for NerdWallet


“We tend to believe that companies have the upper hand, but they don’t want you to cancel your account. You’re worth hundreds and hundreds of dollars — sometimes thousands — to them! So if you get hit with a late fee, call them. Say, ‘I’d like to have that removed. I made a mistake and it won’t happen again.’ Your fees will almost always be refunded. In fact, use this phrase for all your subscriptions: Times are tough. ‘Hey, Mr. Cable Company, times are tough and I just can’t afford that $80-per-month subscription. I’d hate to have to cancel, so what can you do to help me out?’ My readers often get $30 per month knocked off instantly, which is almost $400 a year!” — Ramit Sethi, author of the bestselling “I Will Teach You to Be Rich” and founder of the personal finance blog IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com

Remember to Ask Yourself Whether You Need It or Want It

“My best money-saving advice came from my grandmother, Big Mama, who raised me on a nursing assistant’s salary, never making more than $13,000 a year. Despite her low wage, she always paid her bills on time — and once paid off a car loan early. Whenever she went shopping, she always asked herself whether something was a need or a want. I do this — and just about every time, I end up putting back or scaling down what I have. That question is like a song in my head. It’s boosted my savings so that I have more than enough to live on, even if I lost my job for a year. Start asking it yourself and you can save to prosperity.” — Michelle Singletary, personal finance columnist for The Washington Post and author of “The Power to Prosper: 21 Days to Financial Freedom.”

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Mary Hunt

Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." Tips can be submitted at tips.everydaycheapskate.com/ . This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."

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