Debt Reduction, Saving Money

Monthly Checklist To Help Speed Up Your Debt Reduction And Increase Your Savings

I have just finished listing several items of children’s clothing for sale over at eBay.  Why?  Because it’s August, and August is a great time of year for selling children’s clothing.  Kids are going back to school, summer is over, and parents are looking for bargains.

Selling things on eBay is just one way that I increase my income  – and thereby increase my savings.  I have a whole list of things that I do (or did), each month, to earn a little extra money or reduce my spending.

Once a month –

1.  I would call my credit card companies and ask them to reduce my interest rates.  Create a list of your credit card companies, along with their 800 numbers, and get to calling.  It doesn’t hurt to ask!

2.  I do a clean sweep of our house and look for items to sell.  At a minimum, I make $50 a month just selling old items that we no longer need.  Check for old books, CDs, baby clothes, toys, dishes, etc.

3.  I examine my phone bill, satellite bill, and cellphone bill.  I am looking for charges that I don’t understand, rate hikes, or new fees.  If I find something that I don’t like, I give them a call.

4.  Throughout the month, I schedule several micro-deposits from my checking account to my savings account.  This is similar to what I did when getting out of debt, except I was sending micro-payments instead of making micro-deposits.

5.  Since I like to purchase index-based ETF’s, I’m always looking for funds with low expense ratios.  Once a month, I take a peak over at Yahoo Finance and run a few screens, just to see if the funds I’m using still have the lowest expense ratios.

6.  I change my air filters.  This reduces electricity costs and allergens.

7.  I spend a few minutes going over my grocery store price book.  I use the price book to reduce my monthly grocery expenses.  From time to time, the book needs to be rebooted, cleaned out, and old data needs to be transferred from an old book to a new one.  I also take one trip to Wal-Mart, just to check that my baseline prices are up to date.

8.  I walk the neighborhood, looking for aluminum cans to recycle.  I’ve found quite a few cans – but I’m still a long way away from my new lawnmower.

9.  Depending on the time of year, I go shopping and look for calendar-related specials.  For instance, at the end of summer, we stock up on sunscreen, once it goes on sale.  At the end of winter, I’ll buy coats for the next year.  By shopping near the end of the various seasons, I can find considerable bargains and discounts.

10.  I brainstorm.  I sit down with my budget and I spend time just thinking.  What can I do better?  Where can I improve?  How can I spend less?  Can I make a few extra dollars?  What am I not doing?  What is working?  What is not working?  I cannot tell you the number of ‘ah-ha’ moments I’ve had, just sitting at my kitchen table, sorting through my bills.

What about you?  What are you routinely doing to save money?  Leave your comments and share with the world!

11 thoughts on “Monthly Checklist To Help Speed Up Your Debt Reduction And Increase Your Savings

  1. Going through your bills with a fine tooth comb is important.

    We switched our cable to dish and save about 40 bucks a month, easy money.

    Just last week I noticed that we had the unlimited vonage plan at 25 a month, but I realized we never use but about 300 mins a month, so I dropped us to the 500 mins plan and saved us 10 bucks a month. The devil is in the details, it pays to dig into your bills and nit pick every single penny.

    Same thing with car insurance, we found that at renewal time they would automatically add on roadside service at 5 bucks per vehicle. Not cool.

  2. One note, not sure sunscreen keeps all year. I think it goes bad and/or stops being as effective.

  3. Our company has been going through this wellness process and that’s exactly what they say. They said that most people don’t put on enough sunscreen because a standard bottle is only like 6 “servings” and the chemicals break down after a year.

  4. I’m curious —

    How much are those of you who sell your unused items on ebay bringing home? I’ve thought of this but always end up thinking it won’t net me enough to worry about?

    So how many items and how much do you make?

  5. I plan, plan, and plan ahead. I am still paycheck to paycheck with a small emergency fund. I always try to anticipate the little dollar amounts that will get sucked out of my wallet. I try to make sure I have gas, some food, and some money to go out with friends. I write down every expense I might have and add $20.00 to be realistic.

  6. Eric, it really depends on the items. I don’t know about eBay because I’ve never used it, I think there might be fees involved for the seller (?). But I’ve sold lots of stuff on local wesites, just post photos and a description, and then people come over to check it out and buy if they like. I’ve sold furniture, a piano, dishes, a webcam, you name it, it doesn’t matter how big or small. If someone stops by my place and gives me 5 bucks for something I no longer need or use, I’m 5 bucks ahead.

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