Mini-course on saving money
You can save money if you want to. By doing small things and changing some of your habits, you can start to put your pennies into a nest egg that will soon build into real dollars. You’ll find it easier to make these changes if you have a purpose for your savings, such as to create an emergency fund, add to your retirement account, go on a family vacation or pay for holiday fun.
The first strategy to try is the “dollar a day” concept. Challenge yourself to save just one dollar a day. At the end of the year, you’ll have $365! For people who haven’t been able to save before, this can be a good start. You can modify this strategy to suit your own situation; for example, you can try to save a dollar for each day that you work, or people in a two-income household can share the challenge so each wage earner saves 50 cents per day.
A second strategy is to do simple home repairs yourself. Cleveland Heights residents can get hands-on skills training on various home repairs at the workshops offered by Home Repair Resource Center. You can borrow the how-to DVD’s, books and handouts available through HRRC’s Resource Library. If you have a computer, you can even learn how to do home repairs on YouTube!
A third strategy is to take some simple actions to reduce energy consumption. Install florescent light bulbs, unplug appliances when not in use, put a thermal blanket on your hot water tank, and change your furnace filter regularly. You’ll see real savings on your utility bills.
A fourth and final strategy is to spend less than you earn. Start by going through your bills to see if there are any optional services you can eliminate. For example, do you need premium cable or could you just rent a movie from Redbox? (Redbox is a vending machine where you can rent movies inexpensively.) Do you use your cell phone much, or could you replace it with a pay-as-you-go phone? Do you need unlimited text messaging on your cell phone? Can you use the ATM of your own bank, rather than paying a fee to use one from another financial institution?
Every month HRRC offers the Power of a Personal Budget Workshop that helps people rethink how they prioritize their spending and share cost-cutting strategies for saving money. This workshop, as well as the others in HRRC's Financial Fitness series, is presented at the Lee Road Library, 2345 Lee Road, from 6 to 8 p.m. Visit www.hrrc-ch.org for the dates or call 216-381-6100.
Gail Jackson is a housing counselor at the Home Repair Resource Center in Cleveland Heights.