Good Sunday morning, everyone! Have you heard of "The Latte Factor"? It’s a book written with the idea in mind that we spend to much money on fancy drinks like a latte and not enough is going into saving for a rainy day. It’s phrased “Say later to the latte.”

Life should be enjoyed and occasionally a good cup of coffee should be allowed don’t you think? I’ve always been a believer in everything in moderation. That way we can take care of that craving without breaking the bank.

I read in Money magazine that they determined that only 39 percent of Americans have enough money in savings to cover a $1,000 emergency. An emergency could be an unexpected car repair, medical expense or a household appliance bites the dust.

One of the biggest misconceptions about building wealth is that it is a function of our income. In reality, it is much more a function of our spending habits.

But when your budget is tight already how do you get the needed funds for an emergency savings. You must take some time to track your expenses for a few weeks to a few months. During this time, tracking your expenses, you will really be surprised at where your money has been disappearing to.

Eating out is probably the biggest thing that drains our wallets. In the Latte Factor, it reported that on average Americans eat out for lunch twice a week and eat 18.2 meals per month outside the home. This totals to $232 each month of eating meals prepared outside the home.

Surely, we don’t spend that much on eating out? It all adds up fast. A quick lunch drive-through at Charlotte’s, a lunch out with a friend, little snacks from the vending machine, grab a pizza on the way home, a night out with some friends. In a month it adds up.

Other expenses that add up, coffee of course or the book would need a new name. Who doesn’t like to stop by Mad Goat? It’s not just good coffee it’s a neat atmosphere. The book says the average American spends almost $15 a week on coffee or $1,100 annually.

What about your unused utility services? Are you watching all the cable channels you are pay for? When was the last time you used three-way calling or call-forwarding options on your home phone? Do you even still need your home phone?

Take a few minutes to review your bills and asking yourself if you really need these services and if not cancel them and save that money.

Paying attention to the small money leaks, while they are still leaks, will prevent them from becoming floods. More important, it will allow you to build your safety cushion to fall on when life happens.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512

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