Win a Copy of Dave Ramsey's "The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness"

by Katy on April 9, 2009 · 67 comments

totalmoneymakeover

Are you looking for a path to life without debt? Then you should most definitely enter to win your own hardback copy of Dave Ramsey’s bestselling The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness.

I’m currently reading this book, and am really liking it. I always have felt that I shouldn’t be putting money aside while I still have debt. (Stupid fixer-upper!) I’m realizing I need to take care of myself (emergency fund) before I can move forward to true financial freedom.

I am stupendously good at stretching a dollar, and am freshly inspired to knock out all the house related house debt that has snuck up on us.ย 

To win, justย enter your favorite budgeting tips in the comments section below. I will randomly pick a winner in one week, April 16, 2009 at midnight P.S.T. Only one entry per person please.

Thank you very much to the generous folks over at daveramsey.com.

Good luck!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

{ 65 comments… read them below or add one }

ToilingAnt April 10, 2009 at 5:31 am

I suppose this is a bit more of a motivational tip than an actual budgeting tip– but as we work on eliminating individual chunks of debt, I’m putting a chart on the fridge where we can mark off each payment and watch the total owed decrease. Right now there’s a hand-drawn thermometer showing only two payments left on our car (which we will pay next week!). It’s very motivating to have a visual representation of the progress, and marking a new line on it each month is FUN. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Lisa April 10, 2009 at 6:07 am

The thing that works best for us is to resist temptation. I stay out of the stores as much as possible. If I have to go to the mall to buy something (once or twice a year), I try to get in and out as quickly as possible.

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linda April 10, 2009 at 6:26 am

My best budgeting tip is finding new outfits in my own closet. I am amazed with what I come up with when I take everything out of my closet and see what matches and what looks great together. Doing this allows me to budget very little for clothing and use that money for something more fun, like travel.

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mindfulmama April 10, 2009 at 6:43 am

Pay Bills On Time!! Especially if you carry any credit debt, as you pay it off, make sure you make your payments well in advance of the due dates. Not doing so will crush your budget by adding a late payment to your balance, a potential negative mark on your credit report and possibly raise your interest rate. Yikes!

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LeAnna April 10, 2009 at 6:56 am

I’d say my best budgeting tip would be blocking out the time to just do it. Give yourself a weekly check-in time, call it 30-45 minutes, maybe more when you’re getting started. I’m working on getting this into my weekly routine–it’s going to be Monday Money Night. It may or may not involve a margarita. I’ve gotten WAY behind on my financial management, my bills, etc. and I’m in the process of getting back on the horse (in my defense, we were just evacuated for two weeks due to major, MAJOR flooding.)

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Andrea April 10, 2009 at 7:20 am

My best tip is that when I get paid each month, I immediatly go to the bank and get $250.00 and put it in the safe in my home. That way, its locked up and safe and I have it in case of emergencies. If I were to put it in my savings account, it was too easy to go online and quickly transfer money into my checking from savings whenever I wanted to buy something, however by stashing the cash, it’s “out of sight-out of mind.” It’s working for me!

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Meg from FruWiki April 10, 2009 at 8:07 am

Instead of or in addition to writing out a budget, I recommend tracking two things:

1. Weekly account balances on all debt as well as checking, savings, retirement, etc.

My husband and I plug those numbers into a spreadsheet every Sunday to see how we’re doing. It’s great motivation and it gives us an opportunity to talk about how we want to spend our money in the coming week (at this point, that works better for us than a written budget).

2. Regular expenses as well as when they get paid

My husband and I also keep a spreadsheet with our regular expenses and when they get paid, expenses like CC minimums, our mortgage payment, pest control, and even estimates on our groceries and utility bills. We just update it when things change, but it has helped motivate us to reduce our regular expenses and since we started it we’ve cut a few things out completely like cable.

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Jeanine April 10, 2009 at 8:35 am

My absolute best budgeting tip is to KNOW WHAT YOU OWE!

I have a separate account for paying bills. Because I round up on all my bills, I always have more in that account than what I pay out. Nothing else but bills come out of that. At the first of each year in January I pay all my bills, (even the ones that aren’t due) between the 1-5. I take each bill and round up to the nearest 10.00 then take the total and deposit that full total + 50.00 for the Feb. bills. Again, FEB 1-5 I pay all the bills. Because I have budget billing on my metered services, I always know what the amount is before I even get the bill. The rest are set.

I move the money myself from one account to the other, and in my direct deposit account, right after I move the money to the bill paying account, I can see how much I have left, and then transfer 15%- 20% of that into an ING savings account. What’s left out of that…which ain’t much, let me tell ya, is for groceries, gas, etc.

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Elle April 10, 2009 at 9:09 am

First keep track of everything on which you spend money.
Then create a graph of your income to expense for each month, and a graph of your (hopefully) decreasing debt amounts. Post these graphs on your wall where you will see them every day.
I found this to be a helpful reminder each day of the goal to have decreasing debt, and to see successes at spending less than the monthly income.

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Kristen@The Frugal Girl April 10, 2009 at 11:00 am

My best budgeting tip is to save for intermittent expenses, not just monthly expenses. For example, my husband and I set aside $40 each month for Christmas expenses, and we set aside $130 each month for unexpected car repairs.

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Angela April 10, 2009 at 11:05 am

Join The Compact! It’s a lot easier to save when you’ve pledged to buy nothing new.

Keep “the nut”- your fixed expenses- as low as possible and then have a ceiling for all other expenses.

And maybe the best advice I ever got came from the book “The Automatic Millionaire” by David Bach. And that is: pay yourself first. As in, setting up a retirement account and having it automatically deducted from your checking account every month. If you wait until you can “afford” it or until you have an “extra” couple of grand just laying around, it will never happen.

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Deb April 10, 2009 at 11:18 am

The best budgeting tip in my book should be the most obvious; spend less than you make and live within your means.
If I don’t have the money for something, I don’t buy it, and I don’t buy it new if it can be found used. If it’s something I really need, I save for it. For me, it works best not having a credit card, but a debit card.
This wouldn’t be as successful for me if I didn’t have an emergency fund. There is finally $1000.00 there, and once I’ve got more debt cleared, I’ll work on increasing that.
For motivation, I also have been keeping a list of any debt, and as each was paid off, added it to a grand total. Very inspirational for me to see the total amount of debt I’ve paid off increasing, and what I have left getting smaller & smaller (just my auto and house now). Helps me keep going!

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EL April 10, 2009 at 11:53 am

My favourite tip is to treat every dollar as if it were one hundred. Having respect for your money is a great start to any budget.

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mari April 10, 2009 at 2:38 pm

my best advice is to have deductions taken out of my paycheck,before I get my paycheck. After reading David Ramsey’s book, I had 15% of my paycheck automaticely deducted into my Roth IRA. The rest of my paycheck gets automaticely transfered into my checking account. Most of the bills get deducted from the account. So everything is automatic and I don’t have to do anything. and I don’t have to worry about paying on time. At the end of the month, I take the bank statements and fill in my budget book.

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bonnie April 10, 2009 at 2:47 pm

My Dad (who grew up during the Depression) gave me this tip when I started living on my own after college: You use the envelop system to budget your cash for the month or week. It works like this: you set your weekly budget for everyday expenses and place those amounts of cash in envelopes; so $$$ in the gas envelope, $$$ in the food envelope, $$$ in the parking or entertainment envelope. Then, you use this money to pay those expenses. That way, you use only that money and have to budget it to last–when it is gone for the week, it is gone. This is a great way to cut down on spontaneous purchases, especially if you have a problem with credit or debit cards.

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Jennifer April 10, 2009 at 5:45 pm

I use an automatic savings account at ING, but I have a sub-account that I am currently using to save for a bedroom set. I have found it hard to plunk down that amount of money all at once, but saving a little every week has helped me “psychologically” get ready for the big purchase.

Plus, I will be paying in cash and not incurring any consumer debt.

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Nicki April 10, 2009 at 7:40 pm

The budgeting tip that works the best for me is to TAKE TIME FOR MYSELF. I don’t mean rush out and get a manicure every week, but set aside some time just for you each and every day. I’ve found that when I do that, I feel more thankful for all that I DO have, rather than focusing on everything that I don’t. I aleviate stress, which can also cause you to spend money needlessly.

Ideas on how I accomplish this: every night prior to bed I take a hot bubbebath; weekly I go to the library to read the magazines–therefore I don’t have to buy them; I get up 30 minutes earlier than the rest of the family and sit on the couch reading my devotionals and sipping coffee and enjoying the warmth of my 3 Labradors sleeping beside me; etc. You can see all of these require very little money yet keep me relaxed and thankful for my life.

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Carla April 10, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Would love to read his book! ๐Ÿ™‚ There are already SO many great tips… i’m gonna go with the tried & true tip, “Pay Yourself First”!~

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Sharron April 10, 2009 at 7:51 pm

For me, learning to say “no” to my daughters was a big help to the budget. That helps to cut down on the dollar here, twenty there drain.

Also, taking advantage of my employer’s Flexible Spending Account for Health and Wellness. It reduces my pre-tax income, and I know I have the money to cover prescriptions, deductibles, and other related expenses. I have a certain amount taken out of each pay check.

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Pam Gotcher April 10, 2009 at 9:33 pm

I would have to say that the best tip I ever learned was something I read in “Your Money or Your Life”. When I learned how to figure my “actual hourly wage”, then use that to estimate just how much an item (or whatever) will REALLY cost me. It has absolutely changed my life. I apply it to EVERYTHING! How many hours will I have to work to pay for that Starbuck’s Latte…or additional pair of shoes…or whatever…

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Non Consumer Girl April 10, 2009 at 10:06 pm

I am also a big fan of “Your Money or Your Life”.

This year I set up an annual budget, which I have broken down into a weekly budget.

Then every week I track all of my family’s expenditure for the week against budget and against Year to Date.budget.

This is a real eyeopener and has made us aware of where our money is really going. It also lets us know of how to change our spending patterns, so that our expenditure matches our priorities in life.

The weekly budget also includes a set amount of savings for the week. These I transfer into another account every week. It is encouraging to watch this grow every week.

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Ellen April 11, 2009 at 5:28 am

Instead of purchasing frozen dinners, I create my own in mass quantities. I’m divorced so cooking for myself is just not as much fun or rewarding as when I was cooking for others and I get bored with eating the same thing for a few days. I create a budget-conscious meal which includes a main dish and two side dishes and freeze them in partitioned plastic plates I get for pennies at a wholesale store. Presto! No more boredom and money saved. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Kristin @ klingtocash April 11, 2009 at 5:45 am

One of the best budgeting tips is to pay yourself first. Figure out how much money you have each month for savings and debt payments. As soon as you get paid, move that money out so it can’t be spend on other things. I recommend using a savings account through an online bank, like ING direct. Since you can’t get access to the money right away, it’s more difficult to use it for frivolous purchases. If you have an emergency, you can get it transferred back into your checking account in two to three days.

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Anne April 11, 2009 at 6:16 am

My best budget tip is this: have an amount in your head ($25, $50, $100 etc) with which you can instantly respond “yes” to a respected charitable organization soliciting support. I’ve found this especially helpful in responding to instances of acquaintances making the request.

For me, this decision is a constant reminder there’s always room in my budget to trim back elsewhere, in order to help someone in need. It really makes me feel wealthy to be able to respond in this way, and this mindset helps me keep my other money decisions on track.

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Eileen Wilks April 11, 2009 at 6:45 am

Two things help me keep track every week:
1. meal planning
2. paying myself in cash for that week’s living expenses

When I plan meals, I make sure that (a) I’m buying what I’ll actually use when I get to the grocery store; and (b) I’ll use all of what I buy. For example, if I want bok choy for a stir fry, I have to come up with another meal using bok choy so it all gets used.

The cash thing simply makes me aware of what I spend. I get my pre-determined amount of cash at an ATM before going to the grocery store and buy food by handing over bills, not sliding a card. What’s left is all I get that week for everything else. Except gas–I leave what I’ve budgeted for that in checking because I love the convenience of sliding my card at the pump. But I’ve found I can keep track of that one thing I use my debit card for. I can’t keep up with the myriad of things I used to use my card for–I consistently underestimated what I was spending.

I set money back for most smaller discretionary spending by tucking some of that cash in a separate spot in my wallet. If I want a haircut, makeup, or dinner out, it comes from that saved money. If I don’t have enough saved, I don’t get the haircut, etc.

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Karen April 11, 2009 at 7:37 am

A good friend gave me this idea. Whenever there are any one-dollar-bills in her wallet, she takes them out and saves them for her Christmas shopping. In a year she collects about $250 and she and her mother spend a day shopping for the family.

I modified her idea and use it as a method to save for larger purchases that I refuse to put on a credit card. I started January 1st this year and so far have nearly $100. I love it when I buy something that costs $1.25 and give a $5 for it, I know I just added $3 to my “save for the kitchen floor” fund.

My husband and I also do that with all the silver we get back in change. We NEVER use any of it to pay for something, just bring it home and put it in the candy jar. We usually get about $140 a year that way. It’s fun to take it to the bank and have them run it through their machine and guess the total.

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Alyssa April 11, 2009 at 8:10 am

Once you put your mind to it, you’ll find so many unique ways to save. Here are some ways our family of 5 is saving:
– menu planning, couponing, cooking in bulk and freezing the extra
– babysitting co-op with trusted friends
– cash in envelopes or debit, absolutely no credit card use
– called our internet/cable/phone provider to discuss plan, ended up getting the same services for $20 cheaper each month
– furniture/toys/kids clothes purchased on Craigslist, not stores
– use plain white butcher paper to wrap up presents and let the kids decorate with markers; people seem to like it more anyway!
– for a cheap date, use a friend/family member’s house (who is not home) to watch a DVD from library — best if they have surround sound and a big flatscreen!

Once we put our minds to it, saving has been fun and unifying for our family.

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Joy April 11, 2009 at 8:44 am

Many interesting tips here. My contribution is similar to a few others, but it is very helpful to us. We use a spreadsheet to map the debt we owe, including the interest rate(s) and how long those rates are in effect. That way, we can focus our debt reduction efforts on the highest interest obligations first, and when we see a promotional rate about to expire, we can make intelligent decisions about what to do with the obligation if we can’t elminate it altogether.

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Laurie April 11, 2009 at 10:12 am

I have time and no money, so when grocery shopping, I take advantage of *every* store ad and their loss leader offerings of the week. “Two for one” or “buy one get one” offers are great, but I only buy them if it’s something we would have normally purchased. .. and that is usually all I will buy at that store. LOL
Costco also has the best lettuce! For $3.50 I get twice as much lettuce as the bags of lettuce we were buying. I like salad. But 1/2 the cost? I like that better.

Kid’s clothes? consignment sales only. My daughter dresses amazingly well and getting a top name outfit for $4? ..perfect. We buy socks and other personal items at Target. On sale.

Laurie

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Nancy Norton April 11, 2009 at 11:16 am

My tip for money saving comes from Europe: Get a smaller refrigerator. Unless you have a family of more than four, you don’t need a “standard American”-sized refrigerator/or need to fill it up. Only buy what you are going to use for the next six days. Use up what you have in the refrigerator before you make the next trip to the store/market.

You’ll not only save money, you will improve/save your health with this approach.

N2

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Heather April 11, 2009 at 11:27 am

My tip isn’t new or noteworthy, and it echoes a few people above, but I mostly just try to avoid temptation by staying out of shopping situations altogether. That means avoiding the malls and other densely populated chances to get overwhelmed and buy more than I need. I’m finding that – if I’m really pressed and need one specific thing – shopping for it online at least reduces impulse purchases. There’s just something infinitely less stressful (and thus less likely to make me overspend) about shopping in my pj’s from the comfort of my own home.

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alunachic April 11, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Ways to save are great and there are wonderful ideas here! But how about ways to make more money! I’ve recently started selling the thinnings from my overgrown yard (former home of a master gardener for many years). I dig and sell plants. Not only does this provide me with extra income, it keeps me from having to join a gym!

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Emily S. April 11, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I’m no expert and just getting started at being smarter with money. I’ve recently stopped using credit cards, which not only saves money but also makes me feel a lot better about myself. And I’ve cut back on Starbucks quite a bit!

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Christy April 11, 2009 at 3:54 pm

I think it’s important to really think about a purchase before you make it. Learning the difference between an need and a want was one of the most important frugal lessons. Also, I try to fix something before I throw it away or find another use for something, like using old shirts with stains as rags for cleaning.

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Julia April 11, 2009 at 8:15 pm

Eat less meat, or better yet, become a vegetarian or vegan (no dairy, no eggs, no animal products at all). Even if you can’t go that far, if you eat meatless even one night a week, your pocketbook and your heart will thank you. And the planet will be healthier, too.

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Rachel April 12, 2009 at 9:51 am

Budgeting tips= Right now we’re working on getting out of debt. We pay the min. on everything each month except the lowest one, which if we can pay it off that month then WOO! We do and we cross it off the list. If we can’t, we pay extra so more goes to the balance and not interest. We’ve crossed off 2 so far, we started a couple months ago.

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Rachel April 12, 2009 at 10:29 am

As a family of four, our grocery bill can easily mount to over $500 a month. So we:
– set a monthly grocery budget ($400)
– pay for groceries in cash (yes – go to the bank and get out a $100 bill)
– post a list of our veggies on the refrigerator, so we don’t forget to eat them.
– try to skip one week’s shopping a month by eating all the leftovers, odds and ends, muffin mixes, etc. that we have stored up.

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Tina April 13, 2009 at 8:19 am

My budget tip is to use craigslist for both buying and selling. I’ve sold many things we’ve grown out of either sizewise or spacewise on craigslist, even a car. And my daughter, age 4, doesn’t care if her Little People toys come brand-new out of a box or her “magic toy box” as long as she gets to play with them. My house rule is to never pay more than 1/2 of retail for a craigslist item.

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sunny April 13, 2009 at 11:48 am

I adore Dave Ramsey and would love to read this book!

My budgeting/frugal tips include:
* Calling the cable company about your services. Mine told me I was at the most basic level already but offered $10 off my bill per month for the next 12 months.

*I may give up my DVR/digital cable and go to (cheap) basic cable since most of the shows I watch are online anyway!

*I use a spreadsheet to track weekly paychecks and list what bills are to be paid with each check. I can see at a glance that all bills will be covered that month in one of the four checks.

*I use cash for groceries and “fun” money, preferring (as another reader mentioned) to leave gas money in the checking account – to keep using the convenience of swiping a bank card at the pump. When my grocery/fun money is gone, I’m done spending for the week. (Still working on this one)

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MB April 13, 2009 at 1:06 pm

My best budgeting tip is to keep a post-it taped to my check book with the “creditors” on the side and each month across the top. In the square for that month, I write the date all major bills (mortgage, day care, cc, etc) are paid. That way I am aware of what has been paid & when (or if I am missing something) without even opening my checkbook.

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@frugalforlife April 13, 2009 at 2:42 pm

My budget idea is for those who get overdraft fees –
write down everything you spend in a check book and round up to the next dollar amount. This will allow you to keep away from overdraft fees and save a small bit at the end of the month.

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Tiffany April 13, 2009 at 2:59 pm

I write my budget in my planner on every payday, and usually write them out a few months in advance. This helps me plan for things like oil changes and vacations. I write in how much I’m saving from each paycheck too and then save it as soon as I get paid. This helps me see how long it will take me to reach my financial goals. The only debt I have is my mortgage. I usually set aside a small amout of money for “extra” things in addition to bills, and I set aside how much I’ll spend on groceries and going out each weekend, etc. If I spend more on one thing, it comes out of something else (and I make the adjustments in my planner) so it all adds up to the amount of my paycheck. So if I buy something expensive, it might mean eating a bunch of ramen noodles until my next paycheck but it’s better than living beyond my means. I’ve been doing this for a little over two years and it has helped me save enough to move myself and my stuff across the country and to buy my first house. It really helps to know where every dollar goes.

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Karen April 13, 2009 at 3:24 pm

I use Freecycle as much as possible — it helps me acquire things I want without spending money, and also lets my pass along perfectly good items that might otherwise land in the landfill. I’ve received some beautiful linens and houseplants and given away a LOT if children’s clothing.

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jessica April 13, 2009 at 6:00 pm

I have my paycheck direct deposited and I’m lucky enough to be able to split it between two accounts. My bill money is direct deposited to my checking account and all the rest is direct deposited to my savings. I have no chance to spend it and once it’s there I don’t like to take it out.

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Linda April 13, 2009 at 6:40 pm

I have a set amount of money taken from my checking account & put in to my savings account each month. It’s automatic so all I have to do is remember to deduct it from my checking balance.

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Lorena April 13, 2009 at 7:42 pm

My best budgeting tip is to simply keep track of everything – from groceries to bills to unexpected expenses. This helps me keep everything under control and shows any patterns in my spending behavior.

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Anca April 13, 2009 at 8:58 pm

My best budgeting tip for clothes shopping is to find a friend (or more) who is willing to swap clothes that are in good condition with you. That way you incorporate new items into your wardrobe and have fun too! Donate whatever is not swapped.

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Judith April 13, 2009 at 9:51 pm

The best way to avoid wasting food, I find, is to buy bulk dry goods, freeze ’em a few days (to kill any pests), store ’em in mason jars that have had the air sucked out of ’em (via one of those vacuum machines that also has rolls of plastic for plasticizing food for the freezer), and buy ‘fresh’ foods most every day. Of course, this works only if you can get to the store easily and without having to use a car. But when you walk or ride a bike for those perishables, you tend to buy only what you need.

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kath April 14, 2009 at 4:24 am

We make as much stuff from scrath as possible. Laundry detergent, cleaning products, soap, shampoo, conditioner, food. We also hang our laundry to dry inside in the winter and outside when it gets warmer. We have a programable thermostat and set that to 55 at night and 65 when we are home during the day. We also live off of my husbands salary and save what little I make to put our son through his first year of college.

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Keith Siegel April 14, 2009 at 5:10 am

I take my Apple Juice that I buy from Costco (having saved the previous container) and cut the juice by 50% with water in each container. My kids aren’t the wiser whatsoever and I reduce my consumption of Apple Juice to every six weeks.

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Trish April 14, 2009 at 6:49 am

Hey,

The thing that’s worked best for me is to have multiple saving accounts (or at least to track the $ as if you do). I break up my emergency savings account into categories (car repair, pets, travel, etc.) that way if I have an unforeseen expense I usually have the $ saved for it – and I don’t have to take the $ out of a fun category like travel to take care of it.

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Jessica April 14, 2009 at 7:10 am

I have to say that the best thing for me to staty financially fit is to establish wants vs. needs. This was hard for me to do after years of being spoiled (I can admit) with things that I just wanted and not necessarily needed. I have a 18 month old son and instead of going all out on lavish gifts for holidays, he gets something he will appreciate. I have also mentioned to family about savings bonds, savings accounts, etc. for him to be able to use when he comes of age. That way he will see that we thought about financial fitness since he was younger and he can see how it pays off to be financially fit.

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Laura April 14, 2009 at 7:11 am

Insteand of using conventional oil, I use syntheitic oil and wait one to one and a half year to change it. Wait for it to go on sale at autozone, pepboys… Saves money and time. Always check it and use your best judgement. (No oil causes auto seizure.) I discovered as of this year I can watch three additional movies on my netflix account using the watch instantly bottom.

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WilderMiss April 14, 2009 at 7:58 am

To make budgeting more effortless, focus on your fixed expenses first (rent/morgage, car payments, cell phone, internet, TV, anything that comes in regularly). By keeping these fixed expenses low you have a lot of wiggle room when you want to make a larger purchase, increase your savings and investments, or if your income declines.

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Charyl April 14, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Consignment shops for clothing my family. Clothing at these shops is more expensive than thrifting but I find really nice clothing for a quarter of retail price. Im a plus size and often have difficulty finding my size in thrift stores. This saves me thousands, yes, thousands of dollars a year. Thanks Katy!

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Julia April 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm

We’re working on making a financial uturn in our lives right now via the uturn challenge. We just started and have a ways to go but the best thing we’ve learned so far is to operate on a CASH only basis. We have a weekly budget for groceries (we try to limits ourselves to one big trip per week) and on the way to the store we stop at an ATM and pull out that much in cash. It forces us to keep track of what we’re putting in the cart and how to make that money stretch the farthest. If we walk out with extra green in our wallet, we know we’ve done a good job! It’s worked great so far but there are plenty of other tips that we’re sharing on our blog at http://www.uturnchallenge.com one of the families is a big supporter of Dave Ramsey’s method and I’d love to get my hands on a copy. Thanks!

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brokeinnewjersey April 14, 2009 at 6:22 pm

All of the tips are great and a lot of them are ones that I use. I would reiterate the use of craig’s list, eBay, yard sales, consignment shops, etc. So many of my major household items came from craig’s list — sometimes the item is barely used but the person is moving away, etc.

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christajean April 14, 2009 at 11:37 pm

I’ve been making my own laundry soap for over a year now and it works out to be 1 cent per load!
I won’t stop buying Downy though, I just love the smell!

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Jan Foselli April 15, 2009 at 2:44 am

My tip is definitely the envelope system for gas, groceries and my ‘blow’ money. I have found that it keeps me from using my debit card, which in turn, allows me to save more. I use Dave’s zero-based budgeting concept, and when it’s all spent, it’s all spent. It makes me think long and hard about my expenses for the month, and what is important and what I can skip.

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AnnMarie April 15, 2009 at 7:36 am

My tip is to have an allowance for the adults. Having a bit of money that we aren’t held accountable for has saved my husband and I many, many arguments! As our finances have changed, this amount has gone up and down; it started at just $25/month. We periodically discuss whether something is “paid by the house” or “paid by our spending money” and negotiate it.

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nalani April 15, 2009 at 10:28 am

My favorite budgeting tip: no impulse spending and sew, sew, sew as many things as possible. Each piece of clothing that is headed for the give-away pile can also be refashioned into something else. So, I split up the refashions and the give-aways so there’s a purpose for everything.

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charissa April 15, 2009 at 2:21 pm

We are low on funds with my husband in grad school, so we never have enough money to budget fun and dates into each month. Instead we use whatever tips he receives working at Starbucks to use for that next week. Sometimes it’s kind of a challenge to do a date on $10, but we’ll get a coffee those weeks. If it’s a mega-cash week and he gets $30, then we go somewhere nicer, or split it up into 2 dates!

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sarah April 15, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Keep a spreadsheet of all spending; bake bread for the family, take all hand-me-downs for myself and the kids, trying to sew some of my own clothes…still struggling with my hair — tried to color it myself (hey, I’m too young to be gray!) and realized it was better to spend money on having it well done. I did not look good as an accidental red head. Finally, with five little kids and full time work, I gave up on the library. Our house is minimal, but at least once a quarter a library book is ruined or missing, so I gave up and started buying books as our big surprise treats — usually used. At least they give and give entertainment, and it’s only a little more costly then my library fines (though it saves me the humiliation…). I guess I still have frugal work to do.

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Julie April 16, 2009 at 12:43 pm

I am a fan of Mary Hunt’s “Freedom Fund.” We listed the various categories of intermittent expenses, both fun (vacation, Christmas gifts) and necessary (auto insurance, auto maintenance/repair, annual furnace cleaning) and calculated an annual amount for each. This was divided by the 26 payroll periods in our year to come up with the amount per paycheck which needed to go to that account. We maintain a separate checking account for our Freedom Fund and keep that money as sacred to its designated purpose. New categories can be added and categories that are no longer needed are deleted, but the proper amount goes into the Freedom Fund from each and every paycheck.

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Keri April 16, 2009 at 10:46 pm

I think my best budgeting advice is to take the Financial Peace University. It had so many good ideas and inspirations and motivations on getting yourself on the right track financially. My husband and I were not able to take the class in person so we did it online together at home when it worked for his schedule. For the first time in 12 years of marriage we were on the same page financially, what a gift! And having a partner on the same page helps make budgeting, sticking to it, planning ahead, setting goals, all of it successful and that much easier because we did it together!

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