Sarah Toffoli: If you have more money going out than coming in, or if you have too much debt, these can be challenging times. There are lots of things you can do to help your funds grow further. Here are six things you can do to get more out of your hard-earned money. First, avoid bank fees. Paying fees is never fun. It's money down the drain. To avoid fees, use your bank's ATM, pay your bills on time; hint, online banking, and keep enough money in your checking account to avoid service charges.
Second, be green and save green. Saving energy at home and work is not only green, it also saves green. Use a programmable thermostat, you can save up to 10-20% on your heating and cooling bills. Floor and ceiling fans, space heaters, when it's cold, and well insulated windows and doors can help you further reduce your energy costs. Third, be a safe driver. How you drive your car can affect how much gas you use. Smooth acceleration, using a cruise control, and coasting to a stop can save a lot of gas, or park the car altogether and try carpooling or public transportation once or twice a week. Fourth, shop wisely. When you go shopping for groceries, make a shopping list. Buy items bulk when possible, watch for sales, and use coupons, and never, never go to the grocery store when you are hungry. Fifth, brown bag it, bringing your lunch to work can save you a lot of money. Spending $10 on lunch each day amounts to roughly $2,500 a year. Bringing your lunch three days a week saves you $1,500 a year. Sixth, cut your home phone or landline and save over $500 a year. Most cell phone carriers have a plan that includes unlimited calls. So you may not need the landline anymore. If you follow these six steps you can make your dollars go a lot further this year.