THIRTEEN might not be the luckiest of numbers, but 2013 could be a pretty good year to get on a better financial footing -- if you're not fussy.
Now 2013 is the year I will finally use a 1991 calendar. While cleaning, I found a Laura Ashley desk calendar that was too pretty to use back then. The days of the week for 1991 match up with 2013. See www.whencanireusethiscalendar.com.
Now, 13 other tips for '13:
No. 1: Use what you've got.
It is possible to make dinner out of what's at home at least one day a week. Need a use for small bottles of shampoo in the closet? My husband made a game out of regularly tapping into our stockpile. We got about three months of shampoo free.
No. 2: Cancel a service.
"I cancelled cable in 2002," said Gabriella Barthlow, a certified credit counsellor and owner of the Alpha Advisory Group. She's saved thousands of dollars. She waits until a TV series is on DVD at her library.
No. 3: Drag your feet until January when it comes to donations.
Tax rates could go up in 2013. So a charitable contribution could be a more valuable deduction if you send the check next year instead of by Dec. 31.
No. 4: Watch ATM fees.
If you're out of town and not near your bank, it may be possible to avoid ATM fees by using your debit card at a nearby supermarket. Buy items that you can use -- and get $50 cash back or more.
If instead you go to an ATM that's not part of your bank, you'd typically pay your bank a fee of $1.57 and pay the ATM owner another $2.50 on average, according to Bankrate.com.
No. 5: Bank one more buck.
Charge one dollar every single time you break a New Year's resolution. Make sure everyone in the house makes one promise -- not to yell at the TV during a Detroit Lions game, not to forget to put away the laundry. Put that money toward a goal.
No. 6: Go to your kids and ask them how to save money.
"If the family is struggling economically, the kids know that in the household," said Gregory Downing, a former auto dealer and author of Entrepreneur Unleashed: Wealth to Stand the Test of Time.
Children can be part of the solution, he said, noting teens need to work as well, even if only doing odd jobs for pay.
Back in the summer, my 14-year-old son told me to stop buying him T-shirts and hoodies. I had gotten into a bad habit of frequently picking up something cool and cheap. Nice, but he had too much. It's been an easy way to save $5 or $10 here and there.
No. 7: Think "just in time."
Buying in bulk can save money, like freezing butter bought on sale during the holidays.
But "avoid overstocking your refrigerator and pantry," said Tomika Snodgrass, a vice-president for RBS Citizens in Southfield. The mom of two buys only items for her weekly plan.
No. 8: Don't clip coupons.
This anti-coupon tip sounds counterintuitive because so much marketing works against it these days, said Laura Lee, author of Broke is Beautiful: Living and Loving the Cash-Strapped Life.
Shoppers who peruse bargain circulars, sign up for emails from stores, join Facebook groups and so on are constantly bombarded with deals. "Buying stuff involves spending money, not saving it," Lee said.
If you clip coupons, prioritize based on your budget.
No. 9: Switch up your morning drink.
If you usually buy a pricey coffee, opt for a less expensive tea. Reuse that fancy tea bag one or two more times, too.
No. 10: Play make-believe.
If you could pretend to be a cowboy when you were a kid, why can't you imagine that one day you'll be able to retire? If you can believe it, you can save.
No. 11: Create one "no-spend-zone."
One Saturday each month, don't spend any money. No fair pulling out plastic.
No. 12: Save sentimental cash.
Examine the serial number on each $5 bill. Then, save bills that start with a special letter, like your first initial, said Samirian Hill, president of BudgetWise Financial Solutions in Southfield.
No. 13: Go offshore.
No, not really offshore. But why not bank far from home? If you choose a financial institution that is a hike to get to, it could be difficult to empty that account, said Dorothy Barrick, financial counsellor and group manager for GreenPath Debt Solutions, a national non-profit credit counsellor.
Of course, just pulling out a debit card from that bank would defeat the purpose.
The odd thought here: Don't just work for your money; work hard to avoid spending it, too.
-- USA Today