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Budget Basics, Part III!

November 8th, 2006 at 06:16 pm

Extravagant Extras. Do you really need them?

HBO, AT&T, AOL.
Surprise! 58 channels, a dial tone and instant messenger are no longer free. Basic cable can run you $40 a month; the cost of just to have a cell phone is about $40 a month; and internet can range anywhere from $10 (crawling dial-up) to $40 (so-so broadband) a month. Some good advice, get an antenna, rely on your landline and check e-mail at your workplace during your lunch break.

Today's special.
Dining out is a common budget buster. Lunch should always be bagged, especially if you are really trying to save. Dinner out on the town should be reserved for special occasions or a once a week treat. If you must eat out, and have the choice between lunch and dinner, go with lunch. Dinner at a sit down restaurant can run you $15 to $25, almost double what you would normally spend on a light lunch. And as you know, pizza, burgers, and Friday night take-outs do add up.

New set of wheels.
Do you really need a brand new 2007 Jetta? Are heated leather seats, a moon roof, 6-CD changer, rear spoiler and rims really necessary? The average cost of a brand new car is about $20,000. Even if you put $5,000 down, that still leaves you with $13,000 to pay, usually over a 36 to 60 month period, plus interest. That's guaranteeing you at least a $200 to $350 payment a month! And a new car means a bigger bulkier insurance bill, especially if you live in New York/New Jersey area.

Plastic payments.
Credit card debt is an extra that you really want to avoid. It is easy to charge everything, get the bill, see a huge total, and only pay the $20 minimum payment. But interest will follow you! Down the road, a $20 sweater could cost you upwards of $50, depending on how long it takes you to pay off your bill. Solid advice: choose paper of plastic every time.

Name brands.
If you are an "image is everything" kind of thinker, get ready to spend a lot of unnecessary money. Shop for clothes at your favorite stores off season for the best deals (that means "sale"); even better, check out high-quality consignment shops or stores such as Marshall's or TJ Maxx for name brands at half the price. Furniture is another big buck eater. Spruce up a flea market find or hunt for a sofa at Goodwill. Chances are your tastes will change, so why drop hundreds or thousands on trendy finds that you'll only junk when you buy a house? Only buy what you love or need.

7 Responses to “Budget Basics, Part III!”

  1. Amber Says:

    I must say I am/was guilty if every thing you have listed. My problem now is eating out...I have managed to cut some corners. Also I struggle with getting a new car... I drive an old 89 camry I had a 2001 which was totaled about 3 years ago but I ask myself are you happy with debt. CC was another problem but I was able to get that under control so I guess I am on the right track...thanks for the post (reminder) on what not to do

  2. happyzookeeper Says:

    You hit our family with the first two! Our oal for nov is to only eat out twice. 1 left. Wish me luck!

  3. jersey jen Says:

    * amber, happyzookeeper

    hey, we all make the same mistakes :-) but only once, never twice!

    you guys must think it's strange that i have money guides to new college grads while having $28,000 in credit card debt. well, i accumulated the CC debt throughout 2005 and 2006 due to medical reasons. but when i first graduated college, i was this good with money! :-)

  4. LuxLiving Says:

    I keep petitioning for The Hubster to cut down on the cable, internet stuff to no avail! But alas I am a persistent little petitioner and will keep focusing on this area! drone, Droooooone, DROOOOOOOONNNNNNNEEEE!!

    Amber - save yourself some moolah towards paying cash for the next used car. Don't go hog wild over something new on the lot. Go for reliable inexpensive transportation if you can.

    We debated over this one alot when we just recently replaced our two vehicles. Transportation or Lifestyle Statement. The Hubster is more into the stylish aspects of car ownership while I fall more on the get me from point A to point B side. Don't get me wrong, I love the styling cars, too, wish I had one, but at some point practicality has to come into play.

    You can get yourself a decent little used car for 1200-2500 cash that will allow you to keep saving for the next replacement when you can upgrade a year or three or lower mileage. Save your cash and shop those want ads and try to buy from an individual instead of the car lots. Good luck!

    Great post Jen!

  5. paigu Says:

    I hear ya. Why is internet so friggin expensive?!? I'm currently on Comcast's special where I have basic cable and internet costs just $19.99 for 6 months, but after that, it'll definitely skyrocket up to $45-50. Crazy.

    I always pay off the entire credit card balance. Was always taught that something catastrophic would happen otherwise =)

    Name brand clothing/purses- guilty as charged. Though I have learned to shop consignment and thrift, plus after my flashier relatives run out to buy the "must have" purse of the season, they unload their "old" but perfectly stylish purses to me. Yeah!

  6. jersey jen Says:

    * luxliving

    MSN Money has an article about buying new or used car.

    thanks for your warm encouragement!

  7. jersey jen Says:

    * paigu

    hey, no kidding! they get you hooked on with a promo then raise the price. Personal Finance Advice has an article on how to shave 50% off your media bills!

    you know, when i go to my favorite store, i go straight to the sale section! :-)

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