| February 13, 2012

Painless ways to squeeze more out of your income

Being shouldered with credit card debt or finding it difficult to make ends meet every month can be a stressful situation. But many individuals may not be aware of the small changes they can make to their spending and the large results these simple alterations can have on their overall financial condition.

Consumers trying to slash their credit card balances or free up more income should look to their budgets first to find areas they can afford to cut back on. One of the most common and overlooked money drainers that can yield large financial results is Americans’ coffee and lunch habits.

A recent study conducted by finance firm Accounting Principals shed light on how much adults were really spending on these small expenditures each year. The data shows, 50 percent of working adults shell out roughly $20 per week on their morning coffee – an annual spending of $1,000. In addition, 66 percent of adults who purchase their lunch rather than packing it at home spend $37 per week – or $2,000 per year.

“Small – but consistent – expenses add up quickly over time, and it can be difficult for consumers to realize it because they’re only spending a few dollars at a time,” said Accounting Principals senior vice president Jodi Chavez. “But, as our survey shows, those few dollars can quickly turn into a few thousand dollars.”

Adults who make the small change of brewing their coffee at home and brown-bagging their lunch may have the opportunity to save upwards of $3,000 per year, which may help chip away at or eliminate their credit card debt or loans.

Because the savings can seem modest toward the beginning, it may be helpful to put the amount they would normally spend on coffee and lunch in a jar each morning before they leave for work. At the end of every month, consumers can deposit this amount in their checking and make an additional payment toward their credit card balance.

Individuals who are carrying heavy credit card debt should consider using this method as a starting point. Every dollar counts, so it’s important to recognize and give credit to even the smallest of changes.

But while individuals are disciplining their spending, they may also strengthen their efforts by consulting with a credit counselor about other effective strategies that can help them eliminate their debt problems.

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