Saving Tips

    Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project's Savings Tips

·         Save your loose change. Putting aside fifty cents a day over the course of a year will allow you to save nearly 40% of a $500 emergency fund.

·         Keep track of your spending. At least once a month, use credit card, checking, and other records to review what you’ve purchased. Then, ask yourself if it makes sense to reallocate some of this spending to an emergency savings account.

·         Never purchase expensive items on impulse. Think over each expensive purchase for at least 24 hours. Acting on this principle will mean you have far fewer regrets about impulse purchases, and far more money for emergency savings.

·         Use debit and credit cards prudently. To minimize interest charges, try to limit credit card purchases to those you can pay off in full at the end of the month. If you use a debit card, don’t rely on an overdraft feature to spend money you don’t have. With either approach, you’ll have more money available for emergency savings.

·         Are you looking for an effective way to establish a budget? Beginning on the first day of a new month, get a receipt for everything you purchase. Stack and review receipts at the end of the month, and you will clearly be able to see where your money is going.

·         It pays to practice preventative dental care, since a good cleaning routine helps prevent fillings, root canals, and dental crowns, which are expensive and no fun.

·         Most people don’t track what they spend and may not realize when expenses add up to more than their budget can handle. To keep track of what I spend, I put what I think I should spend for the month on transportation, food, entertainment, etc., into envelopes. This helps me avoid buying things I don’t need, and what’s left over goes into saving.

·         Take advantage of discounts and/or incentive programs provided through your employer. For example, the company I work for offers discounted rates for computers, fitness center memberships, movie tickets and passes to summer festivals. Check your corporate intranet or talk to your human resources representative. And don’t forget the best deal of all – investing in your 401 (k)!

·         One way to establish a savings discipline is to “save” an amount equal to whatever is spent on nonessential indulgences. Put a matching amount in a cookie jar for expenditures for beer, wine, cigarettes, designer coffee, etc. If you can’t afford to save the matching amount, you can’t afford the $4 super almond low-fat latte.

·         Take the amount the item costs and divide it into your hourly wage. If it’s a $50 pair of shoes and you make $10 an hour, ask yourself, are those shoes really worth five long hours of work? It helps keep things in perspective.

·         Aim for short-term savings goals, such as setting aside $20 a week or month rather than long term savings goals, such as $200 over a year. People save more successfully when they keep the short-term goal in sight.

·         Save money by buying items online, in bulk. Some companies even offer free shipping on large orders. Clearance items are sometimes available, and good savings can be found on non-perishable groceries and diapers. This saves time and money!

Courtesy of Southeast Rural Community Assistance Project, Inc.

Stair-Step Spending

We often talk a great deal about the need to save. I wanted to share an article by Syble Soloman on "Stair-Step Spending" which also reminds us to enjoy life but be financially frugal too. This is also good information when planning family vacations! For full story click here.

Courtesy of Inspired Savings Syble

Getting Gassed!

Getting Gassed!

If you are like the average American, you use your car to transport yourself almost everywhere.  You drive to work, to school, to buy groceries, even for a quick getaway.  According to the US Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration, the Average American travels an estimated 13,476 miles each year. 

As the cost of gasoline continues to be volatile, families are feeling the pinch on their monthly spending plans.  It isn’t uncommon to hear around the water cooler that a fill up is costing $60, $70 or even $80 at the pump.  You are probably feeling it too.

To find out what this really means for the household spending plan, Virginia Saves took a look at how much an increase of a gallon of gas might cost your family.  We analyzed various price increments in the cost of gasoline compared with the miles per gallon your car might get.  Certainly, if you can go farther on a gallon of gas, your costs are lower.  Assuming that we actually drive the average distances outlined above, if a gallon of gas increases $1.00 you could see a hit to your annual household spending of close to $900!  That is almost $75 each month.  The average driver has seen an increase this year alone of $20 per month in the cost of gasoline.

Price Increase
MPG/Cost Increase Per Year
 $       0.10
 $          89.84
 $    67.38
 $    53.90
 $    44.92
 $       0.25
 $        224.60
 $  168.45
 $  134.76
 $  112.30
 $       0.50
 $        449.20
 $  336.90
 $  269.52
 $  224.60
 $       1.00
 $        898.40
 $  673.80
 $  539.04
 $  449.20

With extra dollars taken away from your budget to pay for gas, we need to be all the more vigilant in maintaining control of expenses.  This money could have been spent on increasing your savings, reducing your debt or paying for the other components of your monthly expenses.  Here are some ideas to help you save more at the pump discovered at

1.       Drive sensibly: can increase your MPG 5 – 33% (.18 – 1.20/gallon)

2.       Observe the speed limit:  can increase your MPG 7 - 23% (.26-.84/gallon)

3.       Keep your car maintained:  can increase your MPG up to 4% (.15/gallon)

4.       Maintain properly inflated tires: can increase your fuel MPG up to 3% (.11/gallon)

5.       Use recommended grade of motor oil: can increase your fuel MPG up to 2% (.04/gallon)

6.       Avoid unnecessary idling: can cost you up to 3 cents per minute without AC and 4 cents per minute with AC on.

7.       Remove unnecessary weight from your car:  unloading 100 lbs could save you .04 - .07 per gallon

8.       When replacing your vehicle look at the fuel economy rating to get more MPG and save you $$$.

9.       Where possible combine trips to cut down on miles travelled.  Pick up the groceries on the way home from work rather than making a special trip. 

10.   Walk or bicycle where possible.  This is a great way to cut costs and improve your physique!

Tell us how you are coping with the increased costs in fuel and how you are adjusting your spending or activities to make ends meet!  Your ideas can increase savings for everyone!

Courtesy of Lori Irwin