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How to save - without feeling the pinch

Need to curb your spending? You’re not alone. But rather than putting your wallet on a crash diet (i.e. “No meals out! No new clothes!”), be realistic. Saving money doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, you’re more likely to stick with your plan if it doesn’t hurt too much. Here are some ways to cut back without feeling the pinch.

Find money you don’t know you have

Late fees on movies, interest charges for late bill payments, parking tickets and overage fees on your cell phone are all discretionary purchases you need to avoid. Ditto for paying surcharges at a non-credit union ATM or exceeding a monthly transaction cap on one of your accounts.

Try cutting what we might call unused items from your budget first. You might be surprised at how quickly all those little extra fees add up. Likewise, think about services you’re currently paying for—and then not using. Magazine/newspaper subscriptions and gym memberships are typical culprits.

Get creative

Being budget conscious doesn’t have to mean becoming a social hermit. Maybe instead of doing a fancy dinner date you could opt for casual coffee and dessert instead. Or take a cue from your grandmother and invite friends over for a potluck.

If you’re really craving a night away from the kitchen, put limits on the amount you spend on eating out. Don’t forget that alcohol is notoriously overpriced at restaurants; stick with water and you’ll have more money left in your wallet.

Be Free

Save on long distance minutes by calling faraway friends and family using computer-to-computer calling services such as Skype or Facetime. You could also look at your cable bills and see what programs, if any you really need.

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Up Next: What is the best savings plan for a growing family?

The big picture, in a nutshell, for you, a combination of debt reduction and income protection is a great place to start.
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