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When it comes to saving money, every family has a hard time doing it in a way that is consistent. What might be a simple plan for a person on their own gets complicated when you have a family to plan for and save. But short of investing in collectibles such as valuable silver dollar collections, there are ways that every family can spend less and save more.

Whether you want to save up to put money aside for the kid’s education or to put a down on that first home, you can do it. The trick is finding ways to spend less so you can save more. You may be surprised to find it isn’t hard if you have a plan. Here are some ideas to get your started.

Pay Yourself First

This is a basic in every financial class you will ever take. If you put a small amount aside first when you get that paycheck, you will find a way to put enough aside for those big goals. It can be as little as 5% of that paycheck, the important thing is to put it aside first before you pay bills or spend it on things like going out. Just putting a little aside every month adds up; before you know it, you will have that down for your own home.

Pay Attention to Sales

Buying when you need at full price is expensive. But if you stay aware of what you will need in the future, and watch for a sale before you buy, you can save big. January “white sales” on linens and other white goods can also include washers, dryers and stoves these days. These are big purchases and so getting a percentage off helps a lot.

Also, watch for dent sales, end of the roll sales for carpets and clearance sales. When it comes to buying clothes, why pay full price when outlets will sell for less. Today there are entire malls with outlet stores for every brand you can name. Coupon clipping used to be a big way to save; today you can sign up for coupon saving websites that will get you the same goods for less. So be one of those people who claim they never pay full retail for anything, and make that dollar stretch.

Buy Used

While this isn’t for everyone, there are plenty of “gently used” items you can buy for far less then if you bought it new. Try looking in the local paper or check online with places like Craig’s List before spending money on that new desk, bed or fridge. You just might find exactly what you want for sale in your area, and for far less then you thought. This is the ultimate recycling, and you can have what you want when you want it without breaking the bank.

Pay Off Debt First

One sure fire way to not save money is to get in debt. For most of us this happens when we don’t pay off that credit card every month. After you set your percentage aside for yourself (see rule #1) you should be paying off that credit card, in full. Paying interest on a credit card is like throwing money away, so stay out of debt.

If you can’t pay it all off, then cut corners this month and pay it all off next month. Credit card debt is the biggest financial problem most families face, and it can be avoided by not using that card if you can’t afford it. Too much debt? Move to a cash only system until you get it back under control.

Dwyer Paul

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