Simple ideas for saving money in 2010

January 8, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
Creative money saving ideas for the New Year! Get your family back in the financial black with simple tips on how save money in 2010. Financial expert Teresa Dentino is the author of "What Your Mother Never Taught You About Money" and CEO and founder of The Financial 411.

Stylish Money Trends for the New Decade:

What's In and What's Out for 2010

  • The New Trends for Economizing
  • Creativity Rules
  • Quality Replaces Quantity
  • Style and Grace Don't Have to Be Sacrificed for Avoiding Waste

Cash is the New Black

· If the last decade was about gaining status from buying on credit than this new decade will be hallmarked by the status of using only cash.

· Credit Cards are no longer sexy and they're certainly not "green" - (besides plastic is made from oil - how guache!). By now we understand that they are meant to be left at home in a drawer, and only to be used in a real emergency situation.

· One of the most fundamental principles for accumulating money/wealth/getting ahead/saving for a goal is simply: More money coming in and staying in than the amount that goes out (You don't need any special software to figure this out for you!)

· With credit cards we can't keep track of where we stand. The problem with most of us - and with most of the clients I've worked with - is that regardless of how much or how little money we have, we have no clear idea of: How much comes in? As compared to: How much goes out? Thinking you know or guesstimating isn't going to cut it - Knowing is the only way to get ahead.

The Only Card You Should Carry

· If you're in a situation where you have to use a card, use only a debit card. By debit card, I mean only the kind where the money comes out of your checking account immediately ... and not one that allows you to accumulate a balance that you have to pay off at the end of the month. It may sound like a great deal, but the cards being offered - those with no interest and payable in full at the end of the month - will still leave you in the dark as to how much you're actually spending. (You give up your empowerment over your money.)

· For a really quick and easy habit-changer and an eye-opening awareness exercise, carry only cash for a week, using cash only for your purchases. It works even better if instead of hitting the ATM every few days, you take out a fixed amount of cash at the beginning of the week. (Unless you're going to track your ATM withdrawals carefully) Example: If you think you spend about $200 in a week, try starting the week with $200 and see how far it takes you.

Money Awareness is the New Sexy

· If you want to really get serious and notch it up a level, start carrying a little notebook with you and jot down your daily purchases, immediately after buying something. Do this for a week. To really see the benefits, do it for 30 days. (See the 10-Minute Plastic Rehab Plan for complete instructions)

The Pencil is Your Friend

· Whether you use a pencil or a pen, writing it down is key to becoming aware. Getting used to grabbing a pencil and doing a little figuring is the beginning of better money habits and, as important, the end of denial. Besides you don't have to do any complex math - that's what calculators are for.

· The simple act of writing it down makes it real and makes it something you can learn from. For example, I watch people all the time trying to figure out how much they spend, and almost always they're not using a pencil and paper. Trying to do it in your head is where you get lost and then just throw up your hands and give up trying.

Summary: Achieving something meaningful begins with the smallest of steps. We don't need to be punishing or feel deprived in order to effect these changes. The new decade is about staying tuned-in to what's going on with our money. As long as you're on the road to money empowerment, you're already successful. It's when you do nothing that you give up your power.

Creative Money-Saving Ideas:

Clothing Swaps Instead of Clothing Splurges

· We all get weary when we are constantly under pressure to cutback and save. Nothing new in the closet can get very depressing. Plan a clothing swap with your friends and you'll feel like your wardrobe has been revitalized ? and amazingly at NO cost.

· Get your friends together; everyone brings something from their closet they aren't wearing for some reason (and something to share for food and drinks). Hang the clothes about the room. While you're having your gab-fest - usually over a glass of wine and some nibbles - everyone has a chance to scope out the inventory.

· Soon everyone's trying on different outfits and by the end of the evening you will be going home with some new clothes or accessories. What doesn't get taken home gets donated to a favorite charity.

A Library Card: The Only Plastic You Should Carry in Your Wallet

· Your local library is the most underrated and economical 'business' you can patronize and everything is FREE (My favorite 4-letter word). Books, DVD's, research ? even musical scores, are there to be loaned out.

· If you don't already have a library card, visit your nearest branch and get your card instantly. Everything else - reserving your favorite DVD's and musical CD's to the latest book on tape for your car - can be ordered online and delivered to your local branch for pick-up.

· Get library cards for your kids, too. Getting children into the library at an early age not only will save you money, but also will instill greater literacy. And that adds up to better careers (and more money!).

· Visit your library's website for a better idea of the many resources available just for the asking. You'll also find free classes, events, exhibitions? and even activities for your kids.

Green is Good Replaces Greed is Good · Save money while conserving our natural resources. Without any extra expense from buying new energy saving appliances, there are many ways to lower your bill significantly. Among them you'll find:

By using cold water to do laundry, you save approximately 80% of the cost of doing a load of clothes in hot water.

Keep your thermostat on 68 degrees and save 5-10% on your heating costs. (For every degree above 68, there's a 5% savings) Only do full loads when you run the dishwasher and use the air-dry feature instead of heated drying.

· PG&E is giving up to a 20% credit on your utility bill for lowering your thermostat to 68 degrees during January and February usage.

· Check out the website for your local utility company and you'll find many easy tips on cost-cutting steps you can take to reduce your utility bill.

Small actions matter and add up. Don't Fall into the mindset of thinking "It's not enough to make a difference". Every little bit does count. Without a lot of sacrifice and for no expense, these new habits can provide a nice cushion in your budget.

Follow Teresa Dentino and The Financial 411:

About Teresa Dentino:
Teresa Dentino began her financial services career as stock broker in 1985. Throughout her career she has been an ardent promoter of transparency and client education for the fully informed participation of her clients. Realizing that finance and investing can be learned and managed successfully by virtually anyone, given the right approach to teaching and presenting it, she broke from the pack and delivered a new message to investors and clients over 25 years ago.

Simultaneously Ms. Dentino began creating among the first financial education for programs for women. A pioneer among few others at that time, who recognized the need of this mainly overlooked constituency, she went to work developing programs that to this day make otherwise lofty financial material accessible and manageable by all. An uncanny understanding of how to make finance easy and fun, without sacrificing substance, sets her programs and methods apart.

After her early years in financial services, working for three multi-national brokerage firms, and serving on several Board of Directors, she successfully launched and managed her own full-service securities firm. Ms. Dentino's latest venture, The Financial 411, continues to be arguably the only financial education and consulting firm that remains independent and without sponsorship from any financial institution.

Consulting on a wide range of money management habits and investment topics, Ms. Dentino works with clients throughout the Bay Area and internationally. Along with her additional training as a professional mediator, Ms. Dentino provides not only an insider's understanding and experience of how Wall Street works, but the insight to help individuals and families navigate the thorny money issues and discussions that so often present costly stumbling blocks. A long-time advocate of teaching children about money, she has successfully woked with families and parents to see that their children become responsible and practical money managers.

Through 25 years of academic research and empirical study, Ms. Dentino has developed unique expert standing in the field of financial education for women. Her programs have helped hundreds of women take control of their financial future. Recently she published, "What Your Mother Never Taught You About Money" and is working on the next volume in this series of money management books written specifically for women.

Frequently called upon for conference speaking and media appearances, Ms. Dentino continues to write and develop material for the education of her audiences from her offices in Woodside, CA. The media has also embraced Ms. Dentino's pioneering work on financial education and literacy. She has been featured on CBS MarketWatch, The Wall Street Journal, WGN Radio, Town & Country and Worth Magazines, Physician's Money Digest, and the Rob Black and Your Money Show, among others.