The 4 Best Ways to Stretch Your Income


What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

Finding extra money means keeping track of the little things. But there are also big things you can do that will definitely make you richer. Here are four examples.

The following post is from Len Penzo at partner site LenPenzo.com.

The other day I was talking to somebody (who, um, shall remain nameless) who was lamenting the fact that he couldn’t find enough discretionary income for an annual family vacation. I found that fascinating considering Eddie (oops!) drives a brand-new BMW and lives with his family of four in a modest Southern California neighborhood.

Of course, life is all about choices.

Eddie – oops, I did it again – may be upset that he can’t afford to take the wife and kids to Hawaii or Yellowstone, but that’s his opportunity cost of tootling around town in a brand-new luxury car.

Guys like, ahem,  you-know-who are always looking to stretch their income. Heck, to be honest, I think we all are to some degree. If you’re looking to stretch yours to its maximum potential, here are four of the biggest ways:

1. Buy a used car

There are plenty of luxury car owners who struggle to pay their bills – or constantly complain they’re short of cash. Why is that?

Well, Experian found the average monthly car payment last year was $452. Now, according to this handy paycheck calculator, a family of four living in the state of California with an annual household income of $40,000 receives $2,706 per month after withholding for state and federal taxes. That means two car payments would consume one-third of the household’s monthly income on cars – leaving just $1,802 for groceries, utilities, rent, and other bills.

Good luck with that.

Nobody understood the financial benefits of used cars better than my dad, who brought home a very modest salary when I was growing up. He saw the folly of driving a new Mercedes to the grocery store only to be left with enough cash to buy store-label pork and beans. As a result, he always did due diligence and only bought affordable, well-maintained, used cars that he kept for many years.

2. Eat at home

Speaking of pork and beans…

Almost everyone knows that dining out is horrendously expensive. After running the numbers for my household, I found we spend an average of five times more per meal when dining out compared to eating at home.

Eating breakfast at home, brown-bagging lunches whenever possible, and reducing restaurant trips can free up lots of spare income, folks.

Last year we saved more than $3,500 by choosing to eat out every other week instead of twice weekly. And if you want to stretch your food budget even more, don’t toss those leftovers! We save an additional $1,400 annually by eating them at least once per week.

Add it all up and that’s enough for a family vacation.

3. Refinance your home loan

I’ve refinanced my home loan five times since 1997, dropping my monthly mortgage payment each time. The last time I refinanced, the goal was the lowest payment possible, so I not only refinanced to a lower rate, but I also extended the loan term from 15 to 30 years.

What are the results of all that refinance activity?

Well, my initial mortgage payment in 1997 was roughly $1,450. Today it’s less than $650. Over time, I’ve freed up roughly $800 in additional monthly income.

4.  Downsize to a smaller house

Let’s face it, a lot of people end up buying more house than they realistically need or can afford, putting undue strain on the pocketbook. For those times when refinancing isn’t a viable option, consider downsizing to a smaller home.

True, that may seem a bit drastic. But if you’ve already cut your expenses to the bone everywhere else and you still find it difficult to make ends meet, drastic times call for drastic measures.

People downsize all the time. Just last night the Honeybee and I were watching an episode of House Hunters. In it, a middle-aged couple were looking to trade their very large old house for a smaller  “green” home that was easy on the environment.

That’s not my cup of tea, but to each his own. Still, the couple on TV seemed to have their stuff together.

“I like these two. They’re practical!” I said to the Honeybee.

“Really? In what way?” she asked.

“Well, now that their kids are off to college,” I said, “they’re selling their big old house so they can downsize into something more appropriate. It’s a win-win; they exchange their old over-sized home for a brand-new, smaller house – and they get to pocket the difference too!”

Not three seconds later, I found myself choking on the cupcake I was eating after the narrator announced the couple was in the market for a 3,500-square-foot McMansion (with solar panels, of course).

“So much for being green,” the Honeybee snickered.

“Or practical,” I answered, before regaining my composure. Then, almost as an afterthought, I mumbled, “I wonder if they know Eddie.”

“Who?” the Honeybee asked.

“Never mind,” I said.

And with that, I grabbed myself another cupcake.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Costco Releases Dozens of New Deals

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 1,996 more deals!