Know where your money goes

When you control your money rather than the other way around, your financial health benefits, life becomes easier and you have more peace of mind. The best way to understand where your money goes is by separating what you really need (rent, utilities, insurance) versus something you want (new clothes, morning latte, dinners out). The little things can add up to surprising numbers if you don't step back and look at the big picture. And if you have a habit of putting your spending on credit cards and aren't paying them off monthly-it can start to take a toll on your overall financial health.

We all deserve to treat ourselves, but too much unexamined spending can adversely affect your financial future. Make certain that your savings goals take priority over your spending. Here's some extra spending you can cut out of your budget.

Food
Skip eating out for dinner for a week or two. Instead, try cooking at home or take your lunch to work. You can eat healthier and save money at the same time.

Cable, movies, and rentals
If you watch movies online and pay for cable, try choosing one or the other. Plus, you can visit your local library for free rentals of everything from books to the latest movies on DVD.

Phone
Examine your current monthly usage, your provider might have a plan better suited to your needs. Assess how often you use your landline and determine if it's necessary.

The gym
Are you paying for a membership that you don't use very often? That money spent on monthly membership adds up. Try setting up a fitness routine in a local park, run or walk around the block or try biking to work. There are lots of ways to get fit and lower your monthly expenses.

Retail therapy
Sometimes we shop just to feel better when we really don't need anything. Avoid impulse buying by only shopping when you need to. Also, research prices online before you get to the store to find the best price.

Impulse grocery buys
When grocery shopping, make a list before you go and stick to it. Avoid the urge to grab extra items at checkout and avoid grocery shopping when you are hungry. You are more likely to add extra snack items and unhealthy, more expensive foods when you are distracted by hunger pains.

Specialty drinks
Do you buy lattes or mochas every day? Try adding up all your coffee purchases for one week and see if that feels like an amount worth paying. Over the course of a year, that number can be astounding. Could that money go towards investing in your own coffeemaker or specialty drink maker? Another option, is to cut down from daily to a couple of times a week and see your savings add up.

Gas
Can you carpool with coworkers? Can you complete your errands in fewer trips? Assess how many vehicles you or your family are using, then see if selling one is an option.

Insurance
Shop around to make sure you're getting the best deal. Your insurance cost can go down when you have multiple products at the same place. Ask your insurance provider for a bundled quote. Plus, you don't need to wait until it's time to renew, you can change your insurance at any time.

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