Stretching Your Dollar: Audit your budget and save

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV)  - As we sit down to get out tax paperwork together, it's a good time to take a good look at where our hard earned money is going.

I met financial planner Dot Yandle, of Dot Yandle Financial Services LLC, and she walked me through a simple family budget audit that could save your family hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year.

Yandle told me, "people will spend hours planning their family vacation how much time do they spend looking at their finances each year?"  She recommends four steps in your financial audit.

Look at your cell phone bill.  Are you really signed up for a plan that meets your needs, or are you paying for more than you should?

"A lot of people pay for more minutes that they use so they could be reducing the monthly bill that they're paying.  A just letting those companies know that you're looking around some of them will voluntarily reduce your rate for six months," Yandle says.

Next take a good hard look at your bank statement.

"Open up that bank statement look down thru there.  Do you still have that membership to the gym that's coming out auto-draft every month?  When were you last there? Or are you using the features of that gym?"  I

f you aren't using those services, consider a less expensive way to stay in shape.

Also pay attention to fees, "Once in a while they'll start sneaking in some fees on your bank account.  Just walk into the bank and say I'm thinking about going somewhere else, chances are they'll take those charges out," Yandle told me.

Swiping that debit card for five, even ten dollar purchases here and there.

"When you look at five dollars on coffee on this or that, you think it's not that much in the immediate but if you look that over a 20 year period of time and the opportunity cost that gets lost, it's probably easily in the range of 20-40 thousand dollars."

Finally, are you using all those channels you're paying for?  Make a call to your provider.  Ask about a better plan, it takes so little time, but the payoff, according to Yandle can be huge.

"I don't think people have a grasp of the money they lose unknowingly.  It just goes away and they get to the end of the year and they say I made this much I don't have much to show for that now."

Yandle says when you feel like you're living paycheck to paycheck you think you have no way to save, but by taking time to stop and really assess where your money is going, you'll be able to pay down debt, and build your savings.

"There are a lot of little things that can be done that take an hour and make hundreds of dollars of difference a year. "

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