Some folks enjoy shopping, others don't. Either way, it is always nice to find a bargain and feel like you have saved some money. I tend to shop when I need something, rather than for leisure, but I enjoy a bargain as much as anyone does!
Below, you will find some ways to save when you are shopping, along with a few "traps" to avoid.
Saving on Food
Eating out has become a regular way of life in today's busy society, and it is creating two problems - excessive weight and excessive strain on the wallet. Occasionally, you may find a meal at a restaurant that you could eat for less than you could make at home, but usually, that is not the case. Granted - we all like to go out occasionally and not have to worry about cooking or cleaning up the kitchen; however, I know families that eat out at least once a day! Think of the savings that could add up by the end of the year if they cut back to once a week.
One benefit of receiving the Sunday paper is the many grocery coupons found inside. The $1.50 per week for the Sunday paper is worth it for the $200-$300 in coupons. Even if you only use $15 of the coupons, it would be well worth the price of the paper. One warning - sometimes the generic or store brand is still cheaper than the name brand with a coupon, so be sure to compare. Also - if you choose the brand that's the cheapest and your family won't eat it, you have wasted your money all together. Find the items that you like in the store brand, and look for coupons for things that you must have in the name brand. Many stores will match their competitor prices as well; you simply have to bring in the ad verifying the price of the item you are purchasing.
Saving on Large Purchases
When making a large purchases, Mary Hunt, author of Debt-Proof Living, suggests that you ask yourself the following six questions before making a large purchase:
Can I afford it?
Do I really need it?
Do I need it now?
Do I have something like it already?
Can I find a less expensive substitute?
Is this the best deal?
These questions just make sure you are maintaining perspective, and not being sucked into consumer materialism.
Saving on Clothing
There are many ways to save on clothing, including garage sales, thrift stores, or department store sales. You can often find new or gently worn children's clothes at yard sales and thrift stores.
Another great money-saver is to have a clothing swap. Get several people together, each bringing clothes they no longer need or wear. The number of pieces you bring is the number of pieces you go home with - everyone just swaps. One person's trash is another person's treasure!
As much as possible - pay cash. On larger items, you may be able to receive a cash discount. You will also save on the finance charges that multiply ever so quickly. Be skeptical of any credit that seems too good to be true - it probably is. Remember - the credit card company is attempting to make as much money off of you as possible. When you go into that department store, and they offer you a credit card so that you can receive 10% off your purchase that day, don't fall for it. The credit card companies know that most people will not stop charging there. They know they will more than make up that 10% you saved with all of the future charges you will place upon that card. They play the odds, and they always come out on top, not the consumer.
Summing It Up
A household is like a business - you have income and expenses. Living beneath your means is a constant journey. Finding ways you can save here and there can allow you to actually have more for less, while leaving you more money to give, save, or invest. It's about making the most of what God has given you. Sure, it takes a little effort, but it is also fun and rewarding! Take time to search for the best deals, become aware of money-saving ideas that work best for your family, then use them. Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding. Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom? Proverbs 4:7, 17:16
Denise Craig, Chief Financial Officer
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