5 Awesome Ideas to Stretch Your Dollars!

Do you want to get the most bang for your buck?  Of course you do! We all know there are only so many dollars in our paycheck and an endless number of opportunities to spend those dollars.  Being creative and very conscious of your spending goes a long way to stretching your dollars.

Check Your Bills Carefully

When was the last time you looked carefully at each line of your bills like your utility, TV, internet or phone bill? Do you know what the individual charges are that add up to your overall bill? When you look closely, there is often more than you think to your bill. Sometimes small amounts are added that you may not be aware of, and sometimes we sign up for add-on services that, in hindsight, are not important to us. You may be able to reduce these items and stretch your dollars.

Track Your Expenses

Tedious at times but highly effective, tracking where you spend money is a worthwhile activity. Use a phone app or a website, paper and pencil, or collect receipts – whichever works best for you. If you do track expenses for six weeks or more, you'll gain good information about where your dollars go. Then you can decide if this is what you want, or do you want to redirect your dollars.

Explore Community Resources

Have you considered substituting community resources for spending? One example of this is using your public library instead of buying books. Another is riding the bus instead of buying a car. Other community resources may be available in your community to help with food costs, transportation, or utility payments. Call 2-1-1 to reach a knowledgeable specialist 24/7 who can help you find services.

All calls to 2-1-1 are free, anonymous, and confidential. You can search the 2-1-1 database for programs online too. Services listed here are for those in Central Illinois.

Be Aware of Small Amounts

Do you have any habits that cost a small amount but you do frequently? You might be surprised how these costs add-up over time. Five lunches eaten in a restaurant, a week, at $10 per lunch adds up to $2600 a year.

Re-think Fixed Costs

Fixed costs are those that are the same each month and typically involve a contract like a rental agreement or insurance payment. You may want to consider downsizing your living situation or comparison-shopping for your insurance premiums to decrease expenses.