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Home  > Money >  Savings

Cut Costs Now!
by Donald Van de Mark

Even if you haven’t been laid off, you ought to seriously look at what you’re spending money on. Not just because you or your significant other might get ‘downsized’ or suffer a pay cut, but because getting rich involves saving money as much as making or investing it – something the pundits on CNBC don’t tell you.

Don’t think you can save money? Think again. Over the last three months I’ve radically changed my spending patterns and literally lopped thousands from my monthly expenses. The first thing I did was vacate a $3,100/month apartment. I was forced to pay that much when I moved to dotcom-crazed San Francisco in mid-1999. Five months ago, I moved in with an old pal of mine who’s easygoing and has a spacious 2-bedroom, 2-bath apartment. I now pay $1,200. By sharing digs, I’m also saving on utilities. And I didn’t get a new home phone plugged in – my cell is perfectly adequate.

Can’t handle the move or sharing? How about renting your second home? One friend who’s working on the West Coast is getting nearly $3,000/month for short-term rentals of her New York apartment. My stepmother’s renting a house she bought before she was ready for it. And she’s making $700/month over what she’s paying in monthly carrying costs. Don’t have a second home? Then at least take advantage of friends’. Plan to stay at a friend’s beach house or mountain cabin on your next vacation and offer to let them stay in your house at the same time.

If you own your home, how about refinancing your home mortgage? I refinanced a cabin I have in Sonoma. Not only did a 6.875% interest rate help, (and since Sept. 1 rates have fallen further, to the lowest levels in a year) I also switched from a 15-year mortgage to a 30-year mortgage and saved nearly $700/month. Check out www.bankrate.com for mortgage rates in your area.

Housing is probably your biggest expense and your biggest asset. It doesn’t take much to make it more of an asset and less of an expense.


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