$ave By Getting A Grip On Your Finances

Vera Gibbons CBS/The Early Show

Everybody's looking to save money these days.

But it's tough to save if you don't have a handle on how much money you actually have, or where it's going each month.

In The Early Show's "Save a Bundle" series Friday, financial contributor Vera Gibbons offered a plan to help you improve your money management -- and begin to trim your expenses in the process -- in two months or less.

Many people can't tell you how much they spend on dining out each month, for instance. Plenty of folks probably can't even tell you how much they pay for cable or car insurance.

But more than ever before, people need to have insight into their finances.

And that can seem overwhelming.

So, Gibbons broke the process down into four steps.

If you follow her advice, you can begin managing your money better in just two months!

WEEKS 1-4: TRACK SPENDING

Before you can find ways to save money, you need to know how much you're spending. A new study finds that Americans "lose" $2,938 a year -- they have no idea where they've spent that money. It amounts to $57 a week!

There are several FREE online programs out there that enable you to easily track your spending.

Mint.com is a popular one. Quicken, which most people know as a software program, also has a great online service that's totally free. Once you plug in some initial information, these sites will track how much you've spent on your credit cards/debit card automatically, then divide the money into categories such as dining, rent, insurance, etc. That will enable you to easily see where your money is going.

WEEKS 5 AND 6: EVALUATE SPENDING

Take a look at how you're spending your money. At this point in the game, financial experts love to say, "You'll be shocked to see how much you spend eating out each month!" While that may be true, it's also an obvious item to pinpoint as a problem spending area. Take the next couple of weeks to really dig into your finances.

There are several area where you may not think about cutting costs, such as:
* Credit card interest rates
* Cable/Internet/Phone
* Auto/Homeowner's insurance rates

If you manage to tweak each of those areas, you could easily save thousands of dollars! Take the time to investigate how you can save in these areas, then do it!

  • CBSNews

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