Magazine article Newsweek

It's Time to Trim the Fat

Magazine article Newsweek

It's Time to Trim the Fat

Article excerpt

Byline: Linda Stern

Sara and Michael Brady, new parents in Springfield, Pa., are wearing this season's new fashion: tight belts. She's a systems analyst, he's a CPA, and together they've squeezed $200 a month out of the family budget. They've halved their grocery bill, cut their landline and cell-phone bills, and negotiated a lower interest rate on their credit card--just for fun, because they never actually have a balance. Now Sara is posting her tips at bethriftylikeus.blogspot.com. She's one of a crowd of more than 1,100 bloggers devoting their space to family frugality.

Cheap is the new cool, and just in the nick of time. Economic worries, $4-a-gallon gas, a weak job market and stuck salaries are scaring everyone into taking another look at their expenses. Happily, much of the belt-tightening can be painless if done right. Here's how to run your own squeeze play.

Go for the big bucks first. Insurance is in a category that Greg Karp, author of "Living Rich by Spending Smart" (FT Press. $17.99), calls "low-hanging fruit." It's easy to pluck big savings from your policies by raising your deductibles, comparison-shopping all your policies at least once a year, turning to one company for your auto and homeowner's insurance, and using all the safe-driver, good-student, home-security-system discounts you have coming to you. Raise the deductibles on your car insurance from $200 to $1,000 and you can save as much as 40 percent on your premiums. Do the same with your homeowner's insurance, and set the savings aside to cover the higher deductibles.

Control your electronics. If you "need" a full menu of cable channels, a home phone and high-speed Internet, you can probably save hundreds of dollars a year by bundling all your services and getting competitive quotes from your local cable and phone companies, says Consumer Reports. …

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