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Reining In Your Household Spending

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The bad news keeps rolling in, forcing millions of Americans who still receive a paycheck to brace for a pink slip.

The U.S. jobless rate will hit 10% this year, the Federal Reserve forecast on Wednesday. Equally troubling, the Fed expects unemployment to stay high for several years.

"People who have lost their job or are afraid it could happen to them soon are looking for ways to cut spending and conserve cash," said Avi Karnani, vice president of strategic innovation at LendingTree, an online mortgage loan aggregator.

Feeling less threatened financially is a key to elevating your spirits. There is a limit to how much you can control your job security. So bolstering your cash may be your best bet for boosting your morale.

"It also helps you pay your bills," said Karnani, who oversees MoneyRight, LendingTree's personal finance wing.

In your 20s or 30s, you should have one to three months of living expenses in cash.

Your cash buffer should grow by at least one month for each additional decade you've lived, he says.

The key to fattening your savings account is to budget, Karnani says. That's how you'll find items crying to go on a spending diet.

You'll speed the process if you separate needs from wants. Dining out at fancy restaurants and shopping for designer label clothes are likely to go on the want list.

"Things you do strictly for pleasure or status are probably not essential," Karnani said.

It's also important not to slash everything that makes you feel good. After all, you'll need strong morale to stick to your plan.

So even though every pundit on the planet has told you to just say no to that costly cup of latte at Starbucks, Karnani says, keep treating yourself. Instead, aim for less demoralizing cuts. Some big ones:

Credit card debt. Cut it. This isn't the first time you've heard this, and it won't be the last.

"If you are paying 20% interest, it can be a real drain," Karnani said. "Plus, if you eliminate that debt, it can boost your credit score." And don't forget, that can make it easier to get credit in an emergency.

Sure, you've been told a dozen times to shop for a replacement card with a lower rate of interest.

A less familiar tack is to shop for a loan at an online peer-to-peer lending site.

P2P lenders can cost far less than credit card rates.

Rates at Prosper.com ranged from 4.5% to 34% on Friday. Also, turnaround can be fast. Prosper.com is considering cutting the maximum posting time for a borrower's application, known as an auction, to seven days. Now it is 14 days.

A borrower can end the auction as soon as he gets offers for enough money from lenders. Curtis Arnold, co-author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Person-to-Person Lending," says he often does loans within 48 hours at Virgin Money.

Still, cutting an auction short means you might not get the lowest possible rate. Receipt of funds can take an additional couple of days.

Also, replacing revolving credit with a fixed-rate loan should boost your credit score, Karnani says.

It lowers your debt-to-income ratio. Since the loan has a payoff deadline, it makes you a better credit risk. And a fixed-rate loan is safer than an adjustable one.

Summer camp. Scale way back.

"You don't have to ax summer camp completely," Karnani said. "Almost every high school and community college has sports and arts programs for kids in the summer. They are a terrific option, which many people completely overlook."

Entertainment. Revamp it.

"Taking a family of four to a movie theater can cost $50," Karnani said. "And that's before you buy popcorn."

You've already spent big bucks to buy a big-screen TV. Make better use of it. A rental service like Netflix costs as little as $9 a month.

"You can see more movies this way," Karnani said. "And get better popcorn."

Or borrow your DVDs from the public library. They're free and no doubt more educational. Or ... shock! Horror! Check out a book.

Cable TV. Dump it, or at least cut it back. You can save hundreds of dollars a year by downgrading your cable service. You can get mainstream programming for free via a Web site like Hulu.

Watch shows on your wide-screen TV after plugging it into your wireless laptop. "You can get very easy instructions online," Karnani said. "Heck, your little nephew can plug everything in in five minutes."

Textbooks. Rent, don't buy. Or buy used texts. "College textbooks can cost $1,000 a semester," Karnani said. "You can slash that by using new online services."

One is BookRenter.com, which posts prices often 50% to 80% less than buys.

Another: BetterWorldBooks.com. You can buy any book it has for $3.97 and free shipping.

When shopping such online sites, make sure the edition of a book you are considering will suit your needs.

滚滚而来的坏消息迫使上万仍领薪水支票的美国人为一纸解雇通知书作准备。

根据美联储周三的预报,本年度美国的失业率将达到10%。同样棘手的是,美联邦估计近年内,失业率会持续居高。.

在线抵押借款公司LendingTree的副总裁Avi Karnani说:“已经失业或担心失业将发生在他们身上的人们正在想法设法节省开支储蓄现金”。

鼓舞精神的关键是少受经济威胁。你如何掌控你的职业安全是有限度的,所以能让你斗志高涨的最好办法就是支持现金。

监督MoneyRight 的LendingTree私人理财助理Karnani说“这么做也可以帮你清偿借款”。

在你20多岁或30多岁的时候,你应该有一至三个月的时间是使用现金的。

他说,每一个十年,你的现金缓冲期应该增长至少一个月。

Karnani说增加存款额的关键是要做好预算。通过预算你会发现需要花钱的东西急需“减肥”。

如果把“需要的”和“想要的”分开,你就可以加快减肥过程。在优雅的餐厅吃饭和购买名设计师的品牌服饰应该放在“想要的”清单上。

Karnani说“绝对是用来玩乐或用于显示地位的东西大多不是非要不可的东西”。

同样的,你也不能完全削减那些让你感觉良好的东西,毕竟,你需要有很强的斗志来坚持你的计划。

所以就算全世界所有专家告诉你要对星巴克昂贵的拿铁咖啡说不,Karnani说,但是你还是要款待自己。所以,只要节省那些使意志消沉的开支就好了。那些大的:

信用卡债,应该减少。你不会是第一次听到这一条,但也不会是最后一次听到这一条。

Karnani说“如果你付20%的利息,卡债就会是巨额支出。而且,如果你消债,信用卡积分会增加。”但是别忘了,那样更容易让你陷入危机。

当然,现实已经多次告诉你购物时要用低利率的卡取代信用卡。

有一个大家不大熟悉的方法是通过点对点借贷网在线借款。

点对点贷方的成本远低于信用卡利率。.

周五Prosper.com网站的利率介于4.5%~34%..同样,周转时间也很快。Prosper.com在考虑缩短借方申请的最长截邮时间(即拍卖时间)至七天。目前是14天。

借方只要从贷方那里收到足够的金额就可以终止拍卖。点对点借款的完整傻瓜指南”的作者之一Curtis Arnold说他通常在48小时内就从Virgin Money拿到贷款。

而且,缩短拍卖时间意味着你可能拿不到尽可能低的利率。收到资金的时间也需多几天。

还有,用固定利率贷款取代周转贷款会增加你的信用积分,Karnani说。

固定利率贷款可降低你的负债收入比。因为贷款有一个偿还期限,这个期限会增加你的信用风险。而固定利率贷款比可调利率贷款更安全。

夏令营?老掉牙的事.

“你不一定非要参加夏令营”,Karnani说“现在几乎每一所高中或社区学院在夏天都有为孩子们准备的运动或艺术活动,都是非常好的选择,可惜被很多人忽视了”

娱乐?修正一下。

Karnani说“一家四口去电影院看电影要花50美金,而这还不包括买爆米花的钱。”

你已经花了很大一笔钱用来买宽屏电视,那就好好用吧。像租Netflix的花费仅为9美金一个月。

“这样你可以看更多电影”,Karnani说“而且可以买到更好的爆米花”。

或者从公共图书馆借DVD。那些DVD是免费的,很可能更有教育意义。或刺激,或惊悚,看看书。

有线电视?放弃吧,或者至少不用有线,这样你每年可以节约上百美金续有线服务费。你可以免费从像Hulu这类的网站看到主流节目。

将节目接到无线手提后用你的宽屏电视机播放。“你可以轻易地得到在线说明。” Karnani说“而且,你的小侄子可以在五分钟之内将所有东西连接好。”

教科书?借,不要买。或者买二手书。“大学课本费一学期1000美金,你可以通过使用最新的在线服务来削减这笔费用。”,

有一个网站是BookRenter.com,那上面的标价一般比买书低50%~80%

还有一个是BetterWorldBooks.com, 你只需3.97美金就可以买到所有那个网站上有的书,而且免运费。

切记从网上买书时,要确定你想买的书就是你需要的那一版。
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