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Save $100 This Month

A change of perspective can put change in your pocket
Save $100 This Month

Financial whiz kids tell us most money messes have more to do with spending than with income. Most of us probably know this, but in the hectic pace of life we're too weary to shop wisely and spend less. Still, there is a way to gain without pain. Changing your perspective can put extra change in your pocket. Guaranteed. Here's a simple, two-week approach that will help you dominate your dollars.

Nix shopping for fun

The irrefutable fact is that if you go shopping, you'll most likely spend money. One husband said: "Every time we drive into town it costs us $100." Our culture has turned shopping into recreation, even a form of therapy. Merchants know this better than anyone. That's why they entice us with fancy decor, music and espresso bars.

But you can fight back. Put yourself on a two-week moratorium from shopping for fun. Instead, visit a park or go see a friend; explore a city block or sit quietly by the lake; take a power walk around the neighborhood and pocket the cash.

Skip a week at the grocery store

Take an inventory of your cupboards and freezer. Is food going to waste from rot or freezer-burn? Use it up before it's too late. With the exception of milk, bread and eggs, most of us could feed our families for weeks using the food we already have on hand. My family and I shop "big" just four times a year. In between, we augment any dwindling supplies. But by using up the food on hand we have drastically limited what we spend on groceries.

Use things up

Take the grocery-shopping principle one step further by considering all the items that are languishing in closets or on shelves throughout your home. Use those pretty notecards you bought. Decorate your home with treasures hidden in drawers.

Did you buy a book you haven't read? Read a chapter out loud each night before bedtime. Did you invest in knife-sharpening gear or fly-tying equipment years ago? Get the equipment out and sharpen and tie away!

Train yourself to use the things you have already purchased. Not only will you begin to get your money's worth and provide yourself recreation and enjoyment, you'll be less inclined to purchase other items that don't have a clear purpose.

Shop with a list

Whether you're shopping for nuts and bolts or pet food, try to stick to your list. We keep a prioritized master list for our shopping needs. For instance, right now we need potatoes, but that purchase can wait until my next big shopping day since I can substitute rice and pasta in the meantime.

Consider your list a guide, not a dictator. Allow for an occasional impulse item, within reason. Being frugal means shopping smart, not being a tight-fisted grump.

Say no—half the time

There's no need to deprive yourself completely. Even small changes in daily routines will save money. For instance, bring a sack lunch to work two or three days a week. Better yet, use last night's leftovers for lunch the next day. No need to splurge on expensive sliced deli meats for your noontime sandwich.

Do you buy coffee every day on the way to work? Brew it at home and bring it in a travel mug—or choose to drink water one day a week.

Turn shopping into an "adventure in saving"

Team up for that next journey to the home improvement center or grocery store. Depend on each other to be the "strong one" when one of you is tempted to make an impulsive purchase.

Outfox the merchandizers. Impulse items are displayed up front. Simply walk to the back of the store to find the close-out sales. Also, nearly all items at eye- or arm-level are more expensive. So bend over or reach up to save significant amounts of cash. At the grocery store, get to know the butcher and produce manager. Ask them about the best buys in their departments and see if they are willing to make special cuts of meat or break up a large package of celery for you.

Make it a family affair

Teach your kids to spend wisely. Show them the actual difference, using real money, between Sugar-Frosted Fluffy O's and a generic brand.

Discuss other ways to save money. Don't let the water run while brushing teeth; walk to work or school if it's possible; or purchase bulk quantities rather than individually wrapped packages of cookies.

Then find creative ways to reward your children—and yourselves—for making wise spending decisions. Use the funds saved from driving past, not through, the golden arches for a special celebration. Or better yet, let the kids watch the vacation fund grow from the savings they helped make possible.

In the coming two weeks, challenge and support each other. Your goal is not deprivation, but replacing old shopping habits with new, wiser approaches. Then watch two weeks of wise spending turn into a month; and one month into two. Before you know it, you'll turn into Mr. and Mrs. Frugal Living-With Flair, and have plenty of change to spare.

Cynthia G. Yates writes a newsletter on frugal living and is the author of 1001 Bright Ideas to Stretch Your Dollar (Vine Books). She lives in Bigfork, Montana, with her husband.

Read more articles that highlight writing by Christian women at ChristianityToday.com/Women

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