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Tightening the belt By Geraldine Murrell-Godfrey

Everybody wants to be a millionaire, right? Who doesn’t want to be an overnight success – a lottery winner? How about the Publisher’s Clearing House winner of $5000 per month for life? These are all fine dreams, but what can I do in the mean time to acquire/build wealth? What is wealth? There are probably half a dozen or more meanings of wealth to different individuals.

Webster says wealth is abundance, riches, affluence and well-being. In the end the meaning of wealth is strictly up to you. Let’s not forget also that the bible states that the Lord thy God gives you the power to get wealth. Let the church say ‘Amen’. That’s a whole different lesson altogether. For now let’s concentrate on things that you can do to keep money in your household and in your pocket by cutting expenses.

Let’s start with utility bills. Everybody pays attention to that electric bill particularly this time of year, when you have to run your air conditioner, be it central unit or window unit. Try keeping your air conditioner at a moderate temp (mid 70’s) and keep it there and don’t forget to change your air conditioner filters regularly. If hot air is coming in around your windows and doors, take time to seal the leaks. Every household probably has at least two television sets if not more. Why is every television set in the house on– even when no one is watching it? Some people sleep with the television on. Now look at the water bill. Did you know that it costs less to take showers than baths? The problem comes when one person in the family takes long hot showers, this too is an added expense. There is nothing wrong with turning off lights in rooms that are not being used. You’re saving money. If you use your dishwasher, make sure the load is full to save energy which means saving money.

Other cost savings tips include bundling your cable, phone and internet—it’s worth comparing rates. If you’ve had a gym membership since New Year’s Day and barely go, cancel your membership and start walking regularly. Groceries are another big expense. Plan your meals so you don’t have to stop by the grocery store every day. Reduce junk food purchases and use manufacturer’s coupons.

These are just a sample of common sense tips to reducing expenses. Did you know that today’s millionaires are surprisingly frugal and careful with their money? It’s a good idea to track your own spending. That’s the real B word-BUDGET.

Don’t be like so many Americans living above their means, trying to appear wealthy by making purchases which they really can’t afford in order to impress others. Yes even wealthy individuals tighten their belts and watch where their money goes. As you track your spending, take time to open a savings account-no matter how small.

When you no longer have to think about money, then you are truly wealthy.