Hey everybody – I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas & holiday!  Many thanks to the many readers who responded to our “Financial tips for 2018” Column, we received dozens of emails and texts with tips from local readers on how they plan on saving, investing and spending smarter for 2018 – outstanding!
Many of them were so spot-on I had to reprint them here – Our household has utilized many of these tips in the past as well, and I can highly recommend them.  They’re easy, take very little time to implement, and reap tremendous rewards.

1.  Making Savings Automatic – We had a handful or readers (including Theresa P. of Media and Stewart R. of Exton) who were informed that they were receiving a bonus for 2017, and/or a possible raise in Spring of 2018 – Congratulations!  Do yourselves a huge favor, put those rewards to work for you, and put that bonus and/or raise in an automatic savings account.   Trust me, you won’t miss it, and – if you leave it untouched for the remainder of 2018 – you will love the numbers at the end of the year.

2.  Taking the credit card debt down to zero – When was the last time you could say you had a $0 balance on your credit cards?  Natalie Z. of West Chester had over $8000 of credit card debt on the books in January 2017, and made it a priority to pay it off this year.  As of December, 2017 – her credit card balance is zero for the first time in 12 years.  Very impressive!   So many hard working Americans simply assume that credit card debt is a permanent part of life – not true! Imagine opening up your credit card statements and reading a big fat zero.  How divine would that be?  With that in mind, if you do have large amounts of credit card debt, and you too are expecting a decent raise and/or bonus in 2018, plug every penny of it into reducing your consumer debt.  The long-term financial benefits are massive, and the peace of mind can’t be beat.

3.  Take your household food spending down by hundreds of dollars – the average household spends far more than it needs to on food.  Everybody’s working hard, there isn’t a lot of time to devote to cooking – trust me, I get it.   But cutting out just one (Hassled? Loud? Overpriced?) restaurant meal a week can easily save a hard-working family of four up to $200/month, a.k.a. $2400/year.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, download some easy crock-pot recipes and get to it!  Michael & Sandra P. of Downingtown starting cutting out one restaurant meal a week back in July.  Six months later, they report solid savings of over $1800.  Outstanding work!  Give it a try, gang – your family, your budget, and your savings will thank you.   Frugal On!

Kristen Hagopian is a Syndicated Radio Talk Show Host & Columnist.
The “Kristen Hagopian Show” airs on 82 Stations Coast to Coast via the BizTalk Radio Network.
She co-hosts WCHE 1520’s Morning Show in Philadelphia, as well as “Dad and Daughter Talk Real Estate” with Keller Williams Realtor John Herreid Wednesdays at 5:00P (www.johnherreid.com).
You can find her online at 
www.BrilliantFrugalLiving.com