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Woman's Budget in today's tight economy

Filed under: by: Laxmisri

Woman's Budget in In today's tight economy

In today's tight economy, who doesn't want to free up some cash? Trim the fat but not the fun from your budget - here's how.

1. Slash Your Grocery Bill

Monthly savings up to: $183*

Shop once a week. The more trips you make to the store, the likelier you are to buy on impulse because you see more tempting items. About two-thirds of purchases are unplanned; cut that in half to save $143 a month (if you spend $100 a week on groceries).

Give up the bottle. Stop drinking bottled water and instead buy a filter for your faucet (about $34, plus $25 for replacements). If your family consumes 12 gallons a month, you'll save about $15.

Eat what's ripe. Out-of-season produce costs 20% to 50% more than it does when it's in season. For a list of what's in season when, go to Estimated savings: $7 a month.

Differentiate between clean and dirty. Organic produce costs $1 to $2 more than the conventional kind. Cut your pesticide intake by going organic on the dirtiest produce (apples, lettuce) and conventional on the cleanest (kiwi, tomatoes). For a list of clean and dirty fruits and veggies, go to Savings: $18 a month.

Note: Assumes spending $55 a month on produce ($35 on organics), one-third of it out of season.

2. Ditch Your Second (or Third) Car

Monthly savings up to: $662*

Sure, she turns heads, but that 2007 Audi A6 Quattro is an expensive mistress. Can't do without two cars? Trade it in for a new Camry and save $221 a month.

Note: Savings for annual operating costs only: insurance ($4,992); gas ($2,218); maintenance ($734); assumes 5,000 extra miles on remaining car (2008 Acura TL), plus four weekly bus passes. Trade-in is even exchange for a 2010 Camry XLE.

3. Get to Work Cheaper

Monthly savings up to: $320*

A suburban driver commuting to the city might shell out $575 a month for gas, parking, and car upkeep, assuming a 30-mile roundtrip. These downshifts can help:

4. Step Off the Gas

Monthly savings up to: $25*

You don't have to buy a Prius, trade in your clunker or ride the bus to cut down on the money you spend for gas each month. Just make a few adjustments to your driving habits:

Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving on the highway -- speeding, rapid acceleration and braking -- can lower your mileage by 33%.

Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly above 60 miles per hour. Reining in your speed will save you up to 23%.

Keep tires inflated properly. Check your owner's manual to list your vehicle's proper tire pressure, buy a good dial-type pressure gauge ($8), and check your tires once a week. Keeping them properly inflated can improve your mileage by about 3%.

Empty the trunk. Don't carry around unnecessary items, especially in small cars. An extra 100 pounds in your vehicle could reduce your miles-per-gallon by up to 2%.

Note: Fuel savings estimates from Assumes 12,000 miles driven per year (8,000 on highway), gas priced at $2.64 per gallon and car averaging 25 mpg

Grab a tax break. Sign up for your company's transportation reimbursement account, which lets you pay up to $230 in monthly parking fees with pretax dollars. (You can set aside the same amount for mass-transit costs.) Savings: about $80 a month.

Drive with a buddy. Carpool to work with a colleague. No one suitable you know nearby? Get matched up at or

Go from four wheels to two. Buy a good commuter bike ($500) and cycle to work as the weather permits. Do that six months a year and you'll save $250 a month.

5. Buy This, Not That

You can buy a men's designer suit, like a Hickey Freeman, in stores for $1,200.

Or buy the same suit for $380 at

Want to impress at a job interview? You could buy this Tory Burch Studded Leather Tote for $495.

Or Rent it from for $26 a week for members.

6. Share the Care

Monthly savings up to: $140*

Organize a babysitting co-op with neighborhood parents and take turns watching the kids for free. Your kids will be happier with their friends -- more fun for them and fewer games of Chutes and Ladders for you (whew!). Or go in on a sitter with another family, paying, say, $10 an hour apiece instead of the usual $14 (more kids means a higher total rate for the sitter).

Note: Assumes five hours of babysitting twice a month.

7. Pamper Your Pet for Less

Monthly savings up to: $74*

Try these techniques:

Say bye to boarding. Going away? Nix the pet motel; instead trade sitting duties with other pet-owner pals.

Go to school. Get Spike looking spiffy at a grooming school. Price: 40% to 50% less than a regular groomer.

Drop the pet insurance. You'll probably pay way more in premiums than you stand to save on vet bills.

Note: Annual costs: boarding, $265; grooming seven times: pro ($55) vs. school ($30); pet policy, $447 save.


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