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Five Easy Steps to Saving $500 a Month

Five Easy Steps to Saving $500 a Month

Small change can add up to big monthly savings, according to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC).

"Everyone hopes to find their pot of gold and may be surprised to learn that, unlike the mythical pot at the end of the rainbow that is unattainable, this one is within their reach," said Gail Cunningham, spokesperson for the NFCC.

• Adjust your W-4 to accurately reflect your tax liability.

The IRS says the average personal tax refund is more than $3,000 for the 2009 tax year, due in large part to tax cuts from the Obama Administration. However, three grand is a free loan to the government when it should be an extra $250 in your wallet each month. Go to IRS.gov, search "withholding allowances" and use the handy calculator to learn how much in taxes you should have withheld from your income. Then adjust your W-4 accordingly. You are half way to saving $500 a month already.

• Shave $10 from 10 spending categories.

Rent, mortgage, car payments and others are often fixed. Not so with groceries, clothing, gifts, gasoline and utilities. Cut $10 from as many as possible and reap the savings - tenfold.

• Cut it out.

Stop playing the lottery, online gambling and other risky spending. The house always wins. Give up Starbucks for a day, a week. Give up other spendthrift habits and squirrel away more money.

• Stop paying for things you don't use.

Instead of Netflix or Blockbuster wait for the free-TV and online movie versions. Find a friend with an account or rent from a machine one at a time. Discontinue that automatic draft for the gym membership you haven't used in months and take a hike. Remove texting from your cell phone. Check your cable television subscription for a cheaper plan. Do you really watch 500 channels? It all adds up.

• Don't pay needless fees.

Use ATMs honored by your bank. Get free checking. Buy gasoline with cash. Instead of credit, use retail layaway plans where available. Cha-ching!

In many cases all that small change can add up to more than $500 -- a month!

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