First Person: How I Am Getting My 2014 Budget Under Control

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First Person: 5 Tips to Consider Before Beginning That Home-Based Business

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Man showing us how much we can save if we use my methods.

Not many of us can earn more than our current income. As a small-business owner, mine is based on what the market will bear. There is little wiggle room. Of course, I can create new products or work longer hours. Nevertheless, I am ultimately bound by customer's discretionary spending--as many small business owners are.

Through my many years as a small-business owner - over two decades - I have learned that it isn't what I make, it's how I spend that adds to my bottom line. Thus, although many of my expenses are set in stone, I do chisel away at my discretionary spending. Follow along as I share my tips for spending less to earn more.

Avoid the frivolous

Ignoring my passions is difficult sometimes, especially when it comes to visiting my favorite coffeehouse Starbucks. I adore sitting at an outdoor table enjoying a cappuccino and watching the world go by. However, this can be a huge budget buster considering each drink costs over $4. If I was to indulge in one cappuccino three times each week, I'd lose $624 a year to my habit. Therefore, I save those coffee moments to when I'm on the road for business.

Eating out frequently could also chip away at my budget, as many dinners could cost at least $20. Eating out once a week would cost me $1,040 by the end of the year. Consequently, I save dining out for special occasions and choose lunch over dinner. Lunch is cheaper and is typically smaller portions, which is great for losing those holiday pounds. Additionally, I'm not tempted to include wine with the meal-another budget busting cost.

Shed the unused

Do you really use everything you pay for? This is something I ask myself each year as I reassess my reoccurring monthly expenses, which are huge budget busters. Through the years, I've learned to treat these services like the dusty, unworn dresses that have been hanging in my closet for years. I scrutinize each service questioning its value. Do I use it every day? If not, it's tossed.

For example, I don't watch enough television to justify subscribing to cable. Sure, I miss the weather, news, and science channels. Nevertheless, to spend $40 each month just to watch those networks doesn't make much sense-not many cents either. Therefore, cable subscription goes.

Netflix is another casualty during the summer months. Although I love movies and science documentaries, I don't watch television much during the summer. I'm outside when not working, even at night, as our climate is lovely at night.

Cell phone monthly bills can also be a drain on the wallet, especially when including a data package. Data packages can add another $50 -- or more -- to a monthly cell phone bill. It may be more budget friendly to choose a pay-per-use plan. I checked out plans for my preferred provider and now save well over $50 each month.

Junk the unneeded

Do we really need the newest thing? I love books, but concluded that owning every one of my paged friends is not financially smart. Luckily, I still have access to them through the library. I can even download e-versions of my favorite books.

The same goes for movies-another love of mine. Instead of purchasing my favorites, I rent them from a movie kiosk for $1.20. I tend to watch my favorites only once or twice a year anyway. Now, I can watch many more movies for the same amount of cash.

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