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The Money Under Your Nose

We all would like a fatter net worth. You can get there either by finding more money to invest or by making more from your investments -- or both. For the latter, we offer several investment ideas. But this article is about the former: finding ways to get more money into your brokerage account.

No, we're not going to talk about cutting back on your spending, or saving money by recycling paper towels. We're going to talk about assets that are available to you right now, that could (fairly) easily be converted into a check to your broker.

Get rid of services you don't use
Are you paying for a cell phone you rarely use? A magazine you never read? A mail-order video service you forgot about? An extra cable box for that basement TV you never watch? A membership to a gym you rarely attend? You're not alone.

Wall Street Journal reporter Rachel Emma Silverman cited a study of 8,000 gym memberships in Boston. The study, conducted by economists at Stanford and U.C. Berkeley, found that 80% of members who pay monthly fees would be better off paying for each visit individually because they don't utilize the facilities enough to justify the monthly outlay.

Check your credit card statements and checkbook for underutilized goods and services. You might find you're being billed for services you've completely forgotten about -- or even cancelled, yet someone forgot to tell the billing department.

Are you getting the best price?
Some goods and services should get a price check every year or so. These include telephone service (including cellular and long distance), banking and credit cards, financial services, and homeowners and auto insurance. These industries are so competitive, and the landscape so dynamic, that pricing and packages change constantly. What was a good deal just a year or two ago may no longer be the best bet.

While these are the most common places to look for better deals, any recurring expense -- whether it's groceries, massages, or plastic surgery -- should be subject to occasional price comparisons.

Turn junk into jack
According to the book Found on eBay: 101 Genuinely Bizarre Items From the World's Online Yard Sale, people have made money selling such items as a single used work boot, a mannequin leg, a deer-poop paperweight, and a real-frog coin purse. Surely you have equally useful stuff taking up space in your garage or attic, just waiting for a new home -- waiting to be turned into cash. A day spent cleaning out the closet and rooting through the basement will turn up several items that could be turned into yard-sale or eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY  ) proceeds.

For more on squeezing extra cash out of your life, check out The Motley Fool Personal Finance Workbook: A Foolproof Guide to Organizing Your Cash and Building Wealth.


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