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Finances are still tight and many families are looking for ways to manage and cut down their household budgets. Ultimately, there are two types of expenses – fixed and variable expenses. Fixed expenses such as mortgages, car payments, etc. are things you cannot do anything about. However, you can make changes when it comes to variable expenses such as groceries, food, clothing, shopping and entertainment. Below are a few quick tips.

Plan and Shop Smart for Food.
The key here is to plan ahead. Plan menus for the week around sales of fresh poultry, fish, meat, dairy, and produce, and make use of leftovers. By planning ahead, you are minimizing your trips to the grocery store and using only what you eat. Utilize online menu planning services like The Six O’Clock Scramble for help. (http://www.thescramble.com)

Find Cheaper Auto Insurance
According to Consumer Reports, many Americans have stayed with the same auto insurer for 15 years. Depending on your profile and where you live, you might be able to save hundreds of dollars a month by shopping around. Or, talk to your insurance company about increasing your deductable to lower your premium.

Shopping and Entertainment
Decide what you want to spend BEFORE you go to the store and are emotionally sucked into paying more than you desire. In addition, go out with a predetermined amount of cash. When the cash is gone, stop spending. Prioritize your social calendar and limit some of the higher priced activities.

Pay Down Debt
Most consumers with credit card debt spend hundreds of dollars a month just in interest charges. Stop charging and do everything possible to pay more than the minimum balance owed each month. Visit www.creditcards.com and transfer debt to a card with zero percent interest for 12 months. Do your best to pay down your debt in this allotted time. Dig up cash from tax returns, work a part-time job, clean out your house and host a garage sale.

Put your mind to it and do it!

Julie Murphy Casserly, CLU, ChFC, CFP® is a 14-year veteran of the financial services industry and founder of JMC Wealth Management in Chicago. Julie helps people understand how their emotional attitudes and behaviors affect how they earn, spend and save. To purchase her award winning the book, “The Emotion Behind Money,” also now available in an e-book format, please visit http://www.emotionbehindmoney.com.
*The tips above many not be suitable for all people, and JMC Wealth Management advises clients on their investment strategies on an individual basis.
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