Send your child to college on pennies a day
Your grandmother used to say: “A penny saved is a penny earned,” but these days a penny doesn’t seem to be worth much. If you drop one, it’s barely worth the trouble to pick it up. While it’s true that a single penny won’t get you far, it’s not true that a penny has no value. Pennies add up.
A penny here, a penny there, can make a big difference to your bank account. You don’t have to become a monk or a homebody to save a little extra cash. Here are five ways to cut costs (without cramping your lifestyle) and to start building that little nest egg for your kid’s college fund, your retirement or your investment dreams.
Avoid Convenience Stores. Save 500 pennies a week. Convenient stores are convenient, and expensive. A can of beans that costs 33¢ at the grocery store, can easily cost $1.33 at the convenience store. Individual sodas may cost more than 75¢ each, when you could be paying less than 40¢ per soda, and less if you buy generic. Assuming that you can save 50 cents to a dollar on every item you don’t buy at a convenience store, you could easily save 500 pennies or more a week if you avoid buying just one item a day at a convenience store.
Reduce Interest Rates. Save 2,038 pennies a week. According to CardWeb, the average credit card debt in the US today is $8,000. Even at “good” interest rates of 12%, that relatively small credit card debt will cost you $960.00 a year in interest. STOP charging. Pay off your credit cards, and save 1,846 pennies a week. On current loans, refinance and save. If you can save just 1% a year on a $10,000 loan, you will save another $100/year. That’s another 192 pennies a week.
Quit Something. Save 2,100 pennies a week. Almost all of us can save at least $3 a day by quitting something: smoking, chocolate, eating lunch out, lottery tickets, cable movie channels, the 6 o’clock after-work stop at the neighborhood pub. With most of these habits you could save $3 a day if you just halved the amount you were spending (you don’t even have to quit).
Carpool. Save 2,000 pennies a week. According to the US Census Bureau 2002 Survey, the average commute time nationwide is 24.4 minutes. Assuming your car gets about that many miles to the gallon, you burn about two gallons of gas during your daily back and forth commute. At today’s prices, that’s almost $4 per day in gas. Carpool five days a week and save $1,040 a year in gasoline. And that doesn’t include the other costs involved with driving: the mileage on your car, the extra oil changes, the tolls, or the additional maintenance for road wear.
Shop Smart. Save 1,189 pennies a week. Statistics provided by the US Census Bureau indicate that the average family in the US spends $3,092 a year in groceries. You can save 20% or more on grocery costs by purchasing generic and purchasing in bulk. Avoid purchasing meat that’s not on sale. Buy toiletries and non-perishables (that you know you’re going to use anyway) in large quantities. Why pay more for individual items when it just means you have to come back next week and buy the same item again, at the same high price?
So how does it all add up? If you follow these five ways to save pennies, you can save up to 7,827 pennies a week. That’s $313.08 a month and $3,756.96 a year. If you start saving today, in 40 years you’ll have saved $815,194.* That’s over three quarters of a million dollars that you can save over your working lifetime–just by pinching a few pennies.
If one of these suggestions doesn’t work (if you simply can’t bear to carpool or cut down on your favorite chocolate bars), supplement these ideas with your own penny-saving plan. Vow to use the library more, to only buy clothes on sale, to never pay a late fee again, to cook more at home, to use dishcloths instead of disposable paper towels, to clip coupons, to shop for better long distance rates, to order water at restaurants, to cut that extra phone line, or to use the clothesline instead of the dryer. You’d be amazed how much money you can save in pennies, nickels and dimes by trimming just a few rough edges from your monthly budget.
© 2008 AmericanCreditFoundation.org®. Michael G. Peterson is a co-founder and Spokesman of American Credit Foundation, an IRS 501 (c)(3) non-profit consumer credit counseling organization that has assisted thousands of individuals and families with their financial situations through seminars, education, counseling services, and, debt management plans. For more information, and free consumer resources visit www.americancreditfoundation.org
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