Posted by: CarolAnn | April 30, 2009

5 No-Nonsense Tips to Cut Personal Spending Habits

In this tight economic crunch, it’s no wonder people are trying to save anywhere and everywhere. Believe me, I’m no different. I want the best value for my money at the lowest possible cost. While the task of recreating your budget may seem arduous, here are a few tips (and suggestions) to cut personal spending costs without heart-breaking repercussions:

1. Lack of $$ got you bored and depressed? Ever heard the phrase, “The devil finds work for idle hands”? Okay, doesn’t matter if you believe in the anti-christ or not, there’s wealth in this old passage. Boredom leads to unnecessary indulgence — especially at fast-food joints, retail mega-centers or in Bingo halls. When we’re bored, we tend to become gluttons of our own punishment; and that’s when we end up spending more than we should. When I was younger, my dad used to drive me insane with his six-word response to my lack of amusement, “Stand on your head and laugh,” he’d tell me. Well, while not all of us can physically stand on our heads and laugh; he got the point across to me that there are other things to do that don’t cost money. Here are just a few frugal examples of how to get un-bored and un-depressed:

  • Sit outside on your lawn and have an impromptu picnic with your kids, spouse, or friends.
  • Take a walk at a local track or park (burns negative energy and calories, too);
  • Make a candlelight dinner for two: one pack hotdogs, one pack hotdog buns, one can chili, two candles and some mood music — that’s what I’m talking about.
  • Sing, sing, sing. Play karaoke with your friends and family. C’mon, every one is a natural-born singer (okay, maybe not); besides, we can all use a little humor every now and then.
  • Garden. If you’re into having a nice green lawn, go outside and mow your yard.
  • Got spare paint cans? Now’s a good a time as any to finish that paint job in the bedroom, bathroom, or kitchen.
  • Experiment with baking. (Rule number one: Don’t burn down your house.) Take on-hand, household ingredients and create something tasty. Invite friends to be your guinea pigs…uh, taste-testers.
  • Dance. If Ellen DeGeneres can shake her groove thing through live, TV audiences, I think you’re fully capable of dancing in your own living room. Who cares if you have two left feet – move your body and have a good time doing it.
  • Get creative. Is there an artist or poet dying to get out of you? You won’t know it until you try it. Grab a few blank sheets of printer paper, a pencil, and a clipboard and get outside in nature. Use your natural environment to inspire you. Who knows? You might just surprise yourself with a great work of art or poem.

2. Steer Clear of Super Centers. When you lack money, the last thing you need to do is go shopping at these giant sales-for-all. If you must buy necessary items, stick with local grocery stores; where you’ll be less tempted to hit the clearance aisles and racks. Consequently, you can purchase many of your household supplies like toiletries, dog food and cleaners for the same price as super centers — if not less. You’ll also find that local grocery stores offer in-house coupons, sales, and discounted food items for pennies on the dollar.

3. Use paper instead of plastic. I can’t stress this enough! When you go shopping, leave your credit and debit cards at home. Leave your CASH at home or in the bank. Take your checkbook with you. Today, you’ll discover that there are a lot of stores that no longer accept checks. Atop of that, when you’re shopping for items you need (or want), you’ll think twice about having to write out a check for your purchase. To boot, by using your checkbook, you are constantly in touch with what you have and what you don’t have to spend; and it helps you keep better track of your spending.

4. Eat-in. I don’t know what’s happened with society these days — but for some reason, people don’t feel the need to cook for themselves any more. Stoves and refrigerators weren’t invented just for restaurants. I bet you can whip up your own fantastic feast at home without all the extra unhealthy additives you get at Mickey Ds and other fast-food joints. Besides, what it’ll cost you for one meal at BK; you can create an entire meal for your family. Want not- waste not.

5. Consumer credit counseling. If you really can’t stick to a plan to fatten your bank account and cut your erratic spending habits, seek help from a local consumer credit counseling service. As often the case is, these resources are and should be mostly free. You can reach out through the National Foundation for Credit Counseling These counselors are here to help you with credit and housing counseling, as well as financial education programs.

And, if worse comes to worse – stand on your head and laugh. 

CarolAnnB – “Social Media Sorceress

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Responses

  1. Carolann
    I loved this post. I really made me laugh because I just experienced what you wrote about on Sunday afternoon. I write, I draw and I have a pretty active and fun life. However, Sunday afternoon I was bored and it was raining here in South Jersey. So, I got the idea to go to the local restaurant pick up take out Mussells and have a glass of wine while I waited. My boredom cost me $40 in less than an hour:-)
    Lindalulong

  2. Hi Linda — Thx for taking the time to comment on this post. I’ve been there, done that; so I know how it feels to be bored…and then, regrettfully, feel terrible after I’ve spent way too much on something I could’ve done without. 😉 Feel free to follow me on myspace, too — http://www.myspace.com/somewherealongbeatenpath

  3. This was a great post. I really need to take your advice (a lot of which i’ve been telling myself for a while). I loved your last line, perfect!!

    -Rhonda Kincaid

  4. Hi Rhonda — the most expensive advice was the cost of not taking it when I should have. Listen to that little voice in your head — it’s a smart little cookie sometimes. I’m Glad you liked my father’s infamous line. He was a trip when he was alive. Appreciate your taking the time to comment. 🙂


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