Thirteen might not be the luckiest of numbers, but 2013 could be a
pretty good year to get on a better financial footing - if you're not
Now 2013 is the year I will finally use a 1991 calendar.
While cleaning, I found a Laura Ashley desk calendar that was too pretty
to use back then. The days of the week for 1991 match up with 2013. See
Now, 13 other tips for '13:
• No. 1: Use what you've got.
is possible to make dinner out of what's at home at least one day a
week. Need a use for small bottles of shampoo in the closet? My husband
made a game out of regularly tapping into our stockpile. We got about
three months of shampoo free.
• No. 2: Cancel a service.
canceled cable in 2002," said Gabriella Barthlow, a certified credit
counselor and owner of the Alpha Advisory Group in Birmingham, Ala.
She's saved thousands of dollars. She waits until a TV series is on DVD
at her library.
• No. 3: Drag your feet until January when it comes to donations.
rates could go up in 2013. So a charitable contribution could be a more
valuable deduction if you send the check next year instead of by Dec.
31, according to Robert Shefferly III, certified public accountant,
senior tax manager for the national tax office for Plante Moran in
• No. 4: Watch ATM fees.
out of town and not near your bank, it may be possible to avoid ATM fees
by using your debit card at a nearby supermarket. Buy items that you
can use - and get $50 cash back or more. Kroger allows up to $250 cash
back on a debit card purchase if you go to a lane with a clerk; the
self-check lane has a $100 limit for cash back.
If instead you go
to an ATM that's not part of your bank, you'd typically pay your bank a
fee of $1.57 and pay the ATM owner another $2.50 on average, according
• No. 5: Bank one more buck.
one dollar every single time you break a New Year's resolution. Make
sure everyone in the house makes one promise - not to yell at the TV
during a Detroit Lions' game, not to forget to put away the laundry. Put
that money toward a goal.
• No. 6: Go to your kids and ask them how to save money.
the family is struggling economically, the kids know that in the
household," said Gregory Downing, a former auto dealer and author of Entrepreneur Unleashed: Wealth to Stand the Test of Time.
OK to be upfront with older children, if your take-home pay was cut by
50% and you now have to buy your own health insurance, said the Florida
father of three, ages 17, 13 and 11.
Children can be part of the solution, he said, noting teens need to work as well, even if only doing odd jobs for pay.
in the summer, my 14-year-old son told me to stop buying him T-shirts
and hoodies. I had gotten into a bad habit of frequently picking up
something cool and cheap. Nice, but he had too much. It's been an easy
way to save $5 or $10 here and there.
• No. 7: Think "just in time."
Buying in bulk can save money, say freezing butter bought on sale during the holidays.
"avoid overstocking your refrigerator and pantry," said Tomika
Snodgrass, a vice president for RBS Citizens in Southfield. The mom of
two buys only items for her weekly plan.
• No. 8: Don't clip coupons.
This anti-coupon tip sounds counterintuitive, because so much marketing works against it these days, said Laura Lee, author of Broke is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life.
who peruse bargain circulars, sign up for e-mails from stores, join
Facebook groups and so on are constantly bombarded with deals. "Buying
stuff involves spending money, not saving it," Lee said.
If you clip coupons, prioritize based on your budget.
• No. 9: Buy some bandages - and maybe a bed pan?
rules changed in 2011 and now you're required to have a prescription
from a doctor if you want to be reimbursed as part of a flexible
spending account for buying over-the-counter medicine or drugs.
many do not realize that there are 32,000 services and items that would
be reimbursed by FSA funds - and do not need a prescription for
reimbursement, said Natasha Rankin, executive director for the Employers
Council on Flexible Compensation in Washington, D.C.
that on average people lose $138 after not filing for reimbursements or
not spending the necessary amounts in flexible spending accounts. Online
stores even sell items that qualify for FSA dollars.
think they can't buy any products anymore," said Jeremy Miller,
president of FSAstore.com. Miller notes that's not true.
Check with your sponsor about deadlines for spending and filing for reimbursements.
new FSA cap hits in January. The maximum an employee can set aside is
$2,500. If both spouses are working, the maximum allowed is $5,000.
• No. 10: Play make-believe.
you could pretend to be a cowboy when you were a kid, why can't you
imagine that one day you'll be able to retire? If you can believe it,
you can save.
• No. 11: Create one "no-spend-zone."
One Saturday each month, don't spend any money. No fair pulling out plastic.
• No. 12: Save sentimental cash.
the serial number on each $1 bill. Then, save bills that start with a
special letter, like your first initial, said Samirian Hill, president
of BudgetWise Financial Solutions in Southfield.
• No. 13: Go offshore.
not really offshore. But why not bank far from home? If you choose a
financial institution that is a hike to get to, it could be difficult to
empty that account, said Dorothy Barrick, financial counselor and group
manager for GreenPath Debt Solutions, a national non-profit credit
counselor. Of course, just pulling out a debit card from that bank would
defeat the purpose.
The odd thought here: Don't just work for your money; work hard to avoid spending it, too.
Contact Susan Tompor: 313-222-8876 or firstname.lastname@example.org
More ways to ring in savings in the New Year:
• Take time to return cans for deposit money.
Switch up your morning drink. If you usually buy a pricey coffee, opt
for a less expensive tea. Re-use that fancy tea bag one or two more
• Don't be afraid to do something that seems too totally weird to save money - recycle scrap metal that's cluttering up your garage.
Dig up an old, low-cost family recipe, maybe for something like corn
fritters. It won't be as good - or as cheap - as when Mom made it, but
it will be less expensive than drive-thru.
• Fix something. When a backpack rips during the school season, sew it or use some duct tape.
Substitute. My friend Joel cut back on his beer budget by opting to
freeze cider for the year. Take a weekend trip, instead of a week. Buy
fun socks instead of shoes.