Financial Literacy - Growing your bottom line
smart spending
How real people grow their wealth

Pay attention to progress

I keep a chart of my debts and assets, including school loans, car loan, mortgage, my savings account and 401(k).

Then I watch them closely, actually daily right now, to see my savings grow and my debts come down. At the top of the chart I put how much I originally owed, and it has been very motivating. My savings account shows me daily how much I'm earning -- by doing nothing!

I've always been a saver, but don't have much. For many years, I was a single mom with two children, no education and no child support -- earning $5 an hour in Southern California.

The kids are now on their own, and I've been at the same job for almost 10 years making a decent income. I just can't figure out why I didn't make the chart before. It has significantly helped me save while paying off my debts.
-- Cindy Troyer

Save a little each week

I needed to save money for several long-term goals and ongoing bills, such as a new car, vacation fund, emergency vet fund for my pets and my personal emergency fund, and so on.

So I created an ING account for each fund. I started out the first week by putting $1 in each account. The second week I put $1 into each account plus an extra $1 into the personal emergency fund, third week went $1 into each account plus $2 into the personal account, and so on.

The second month I put $2 a week into each account plus the extra $1 into the savings. Third month was $3 into each account each week plus the extra.

Doesn't sound like much, but you slowly learn to live without the money -- paying yourself first!

At this point I am putting away almost $100 a week spread out over several accounts. Some accounts are just gathering funds for long-term goals, for instance a new car, while others get tapped into on a regular basis.
-- Alexis Heydt

Check grocery store ads

I have found that one of the best ways to save a few bucks is to watch out for grocery store ads.

I retired about 10 years ago and love to grocery shop. At my local grocery market there is never a week that goes by that they don't have a great discount on something. I save on average $40 to $45 per week, or $1,300 to date this year.

Every item I buy is something to eat or use for the household. It beats the heck out of coupons.
-- David Swanger


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