(ARA) - The beginning of a new year is a great time to do some self assessment and figure out how you can make the next year even better than the last. It's also a logical time to take a look at your family's budget and figure out how you can make your money go even further next year.
Since you'll soon be digging into your financial records in order to file your taxes, why not take a little extra time to set a budget and identify some areas where you and your family can save a few dollars? Here are
four simple ways to get more for less this year:
* Take an inventory of monthly expenses. It's always a good idea to take a look at your regular expenses at least once a year to see if there's somewhere you could be saving. Maybe you are no longer bound by a cell phone contract and could get a better deal elsewhere. Or perhaps it's time to reevaluate insurance options. It could also be something as simple as evaluating how often you dine out or stop for a gourmet coffee and changing your habits to save a few dollars by cutting back.
* Let the coupons do the work. While clipping coupons might seem like a thing of the past, it's easier than ever to save using coupons. Coupons can be found in traditional places like the newspaper, as well as online, often from the manufacturer's website. Another place to look is right on the packaging of your favorite products. For instance, where available in certain retail store locations, Procter & Gamble is currently offering coupons for other P&G brands within specially marked products from Crest, Pampers, Olay and Charmin, among others - with coupon values up to $80 in savings when they are all used.
* Save by using the Internet. By signing up for e-mail newsletters from manufacturers and local businesses you can access special offers that you might not be able to find elsewhere. For example, you can sign up for regular notification of promotions for products you use every day at www.pgeverydaysolutions.com. Following businesses on Facebook and Twitter can also help alert you to special offers.
* Develop a grocery shopping routine. Plan weekly meals and shop accordingly. If possible, find out what items are on sale each week at your grocer before making the list, so you can take full advantage of the sales. Stock up on nonperishable items when they are on sale.
With a few changes to your shopping and spending habits, you may find yourself with a healthy chunk of extra cash next year that you can either stick into savings or spend on something special as a reward to your family.
Four ways to stretch your dollar in 2011