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The Get-Real Money Guide

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How will I pay for everything?

Track where each and every one of your dollars goes for 30 days. Then separate the luxuries from the necessities and decide what you can do without. At the beginning of each month, withdraw enough cash to equal the cost of the essentials, plus a few hundred dollars for discretionary expenses. Stow away the credit card and checkbook for emergencies - if the dollars in your pocket don't cover it, you've already decided you don't need it.

Register! We can't say often enough how important it is to sign up for the stuff you need (for a complete guide to registering). Friends and family will be excited to buy gear, clothes, and playthings for your new addition - let them! Baby showers are a time-tested (and fun) way to take care of some of your major costs. Ask your parents or in-laws for some of the big-ticket items like the crib or stroller.

Don't always buy new. Ask yourself what you can buy secondhand. It's always good to get a new car seat, for example, but the nursery room dresser can be found for less at a consignment shop.

Work your contacts. Scout relatives, coworkers, friends, and friends of friends for maternity clothes and baby gear that they no longer need. Most people are more than happy to have someone take outgrown baby stuff off their hands.

Cancel the gym membership. You won't have much time to go anyway. Even if you spend $50 per month and visit twice a week, that's still more than $6 per workout. Go for a daily walk instead.

Cut your web, phone, and cable bills. Find a company that offers all of these services, plus incentives to be your one-stop provider. Cutting out the premium cable channels will leave money for a rental movie or two each month. You can also eliminate the need for a landline phone by using a cell to make all your calls.

Skip the fancy dinners. As much as you love that bistro in town, you might want to try to find cheaper alternatives for your weekly date with your spouse. A picnic, perhaps? A dinner at home by candlelight? - Kevin McKinley

 

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