Most Americans increase their spending to match their paycheck. So no matter what you're earning, cutting your budget by just 5 percent can make a difference. Janet Bodnar, editor of Kiplinger's Personal Finance, offers advice to help you save money.
Several articles in the current issue of the magazine are focused on helping people stretch their spending dollars, so they can save more.
Bodnar says that a good place to look for savings is at the supermarket -- "a big drain" on many household budgets, as she tells Steve Inskeep.
To trim your grocery bill, Bodnar recommends using coupons -- but that doesn't mean you should spend a weekend clipping newspapers. Instead, you should turn to the Internet. "Now, you can actually sign up for the types of coupons for products that you're interested in," she says, "so you can custom-make your coupons. And you can get dings when something special comes out."
Of course, that requires sharing some personal information with marketing sites, so they can track your shopping habits. "That's good in the sense that you can get the coupons," Bodnar says, "but maybe not so good in the sense that they know more about you than you would like them to know. So you really do have to balance that."
Bodnar says that many people can also cut expenses by changing how their car insurance policy is set up.
To lower your insurance payments, she says, you should consider setting a higher deductible. "If you have a $250 deductible -- if you were to raise that deductible to, say, $1,000," Bodnar says, "you could save 15 percent on your premiums."
And if you own your house, Bodnar says that you could also increase the deductible on your homeowners insurance, to save 25 percent or more on your premium.
This year, interest rates have hovered near historic lows. And Bodnar says that offers an opportunity to many homeowners. "One of the biggest ways to save money right now," she says, "is refinancing your mortgage."
People with healthy mortgages can find 30-year rates in the 4 percent range, Bodnar says. "That's a really good rate. In fact, my husband and I are thinking, 'Maybe we ought to do this.' "
If the savings are big enough, Bodnar says, some homeowners can even pay off their new refinanced mortgage in 15 years.