Balancing Family Finances in the New Year

Thursday, January 1st 2009, 7:20 pm
By: News 9

By Kirsten McIntyre, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- There are millions of New Year's resolutions being made this year, some to lose weight and others to quit smoking.

Yet many will resolve this year to get financially healthy and it all starts with setting goals.

At 2-years-old Brooke Dunn keeps her parents on their toes. She's an only child right now, but this summer a new baby will arrive.

"It's going to be different with two instead of just the one running around," Bill Dunn said.

Adding to a new baby, Bill and his wife, Katie, are both in school. Bill works full time and Katie is a stay at home mom who babysits to earn extra money.

"We focus on what we need and not what we want," Katie Dunn said. "We eat at home almost every day; we hardly ever eat out."

Katie and Bill are doing exactly what the financial experts recommend; focusing on their needs, not their wants.

Learn how to cut costs now to put breathing room in your wallet.

"Just go through and see where you do spend your money and I think there will be things in there that could be a surprise and they would be eliminated," Bob Rader with Capital West Securities said.

Rader also suggests carpooling and getting rid of what he calls the thrills.

"There are certain people that will go to, let's say, a high-dollar coffee place in the morning to get a cup of coffee," Rader said.

At $4 for a cup of coffee every day, that's almost $1,500 for the year.

But to really add money to your wallet, experts say get rid of your debt, especially credit card debt.

"Interest rates are killers," Rader said. "They are so expensive and get those things paid off."

That's exactly what the Dunns did years ago. Except for their mortgage, they're living debt free.

"Living on a cash budget, it got us out of debt and it's kept us out of debt for several years," Katie said. "That would be our number one piece of advice."

Bringing your lunch once in a while would be another way to boost your income. Spending $10 for lunch every day adds up to $200 for the month and $2,400 dollars for the year.

Local experts also recommend instead of looking to U.S. companies to invest in, it may be better to consider investing in Oklahoma stocks.

View a guide to investing your money in 2009.