Money-saving tips from a financial expert

Are you looking for easy ways to save money?
Robert Benedict, founder of the Institute for Economic Freedom, has taught visual financial literacy programs to high school and college students, low-income Americans and families deeply in debt.
He has written a pamphlet with 15 different ways to save money to deposit in your Freedom Account, a separate savings account, to use for life’s financial emergencies.
Here are some of his money-saving ideas. You will be surprised at the savings when you do the math.
–Pack your own lunch and save about $5 a day, or $25 a week, and set aside the saved cash in a Freedom Jar. Deposit that money in a savings account and chart the progress on a fundraiser-style thermometer attached to the refrigerator door for the whole family to see. In one year, that account would grow to $1,300. If two people in a household pack lunches, the account could grow to $2,600 annually.
–If you eat out, order ice water instead of soda. The cost of a nonalcoholic beverage might be $1.80 with tax, or figure $2. A marketing firm found that today’s average American eats five meals weekly at restaurants. So by drinking ice water instead of a soda, you could save $10 a week, or $520 a year. A family of four could save $2,080.
–Eliminate one meal per week at a sit-down restaurant. Benedict estimates the average bill for four people at a sit-down restaurant is $60, including the tip. You can prepare a meal at home for a third of that cost, saving $40. Watch the family’s reaction when you drop $40 in your freedom jar each week. Now multiply that $40 by 52 weeks and you have saved $2,080 a year.
–This one will blow you away. If you are a couple who has two glasses of wine at a sit-down restaurant twice a week, cutting that out, using Benedict’s figures, could save $4,160 annually. Figure two glasses of wine at $10 each multiplied by two people, so $40, times two outings equals $80 per week, multiplied by 52 weeks is $4,160.
You can download his book at www.freedomaccount.org.
Benedict has a record of achievement. After he graduated from Bloomington Kennedy High School, he graduated from the University of Minnesota and was elected Bloomington’s mayor at the age of 23. He was re-elected and later ran for the Minnesota Senate and was elected at age 26.
He founded his own company, Benedict Negotiating Seminars Inc. and has taught seminars on negotiations to over 25,000 professionals.
According to the story about him in Reader’s Digest, he founded the Minnesota Teen Corps while in high school, which built a community center in the poor community of Decoy, Kentucky, one summer.
That movement grew into Teen Corp of America, which attracted hundreds of young people to impoverished areas of Kentucky and Tennessee, where they repaired roads and built bridges.
Benedict and his wife, Pauline, now volunteer with their son, Jason, who organized Good Neighbors in Kentucky to help the working poor with emergency home and car repair.
Naturally, they talk about those ways to save money for emergencies.
Benedict recalls, when he was 7 years old, his dad telling him to save 10 percent of every check and deposit it in a separate emergency account and live on the remaining 90 percent. The boy vowed later that he would follow that advice if he ever had a family, and he did.
Looking back, he recalls one day when his anguished mother said their washing machine had broken down. His dad took the money out of that emergency savings account and bought her a new washing machine. It was a lesson Benedict never forgot.
He hopes his 15 money-savers will help others develop a special savings account so they, too, have money for any emergency.
Don Heinzman is a columnist for ECM Publishers.

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