No. 1 way to save money: Don’t spend it!

31 12 2008

It may sound like I am stating the obvious, but the quickest way I have learned to save our hard-earned money is to not spend it. Think about that for a minute.  There are many ways to save money – use coupons, comparison shop and price match, buy store brands, shop clearance sales. Those are all great ways to be frugal and they are all methods that I regularly employ. But all of these methods of saving also involve spending.  But my greatest secret weapon for saving money has been to learn to simply not spend money. It is not always easy, especially in these days and weeks following Christmas when those clearance signs beckon.

I was put to the test today as I roamed the cluttered aisles of Target, digging through the Christmas clearance that went 75 percent off bright and early this morning. The deals were better than excellent in many cases: boxes of Christmas cards for $1, rolls of giftwrap for 75 cents, stocking stuffers for 50 cents to $1. All of these items could be carefully stored and used next year, saving me lots of money. BUT, do I really need any of this stuff? I have purchased so much in previous years — often at the coveted 90 percent off — that I really don’t. I reminded myself of this and took several items out of my basket, saving several dollars and simplifying our life — not to mention our closets.

In the end, here is what I purchased:

1 reusable shopping bag that folds neatly to wallet size that I will keep in my purse to use when I forget to bring my string bags in to the store with me. (32 cents)

1 roll of red ribbon trimmed in fluffy white to dress up the packages I will wrap with newsprint next year ($1.25)

1 package of 10 tiny jewelry-size gift bags for my daughter to use next year for her friends’ gifts, which I purchased two days ago at Walgreen’s at 75 percent off. ($1.25)

Lucky for me, I had a winetag coupon for $2 off any giftwrap purchase, so my total spent out of pocket was 99 cents.

In a separate Target transaction, I purchased 10 packages of Pillsbury cookie dough and 4 packages of Nestle’s Tollhouse cookie dough. Since these had holiday themes, they rang up at 62 cents each. After coupons, I paid 12 cents each. These will be frozen and used throughout the year whenever we need a quick sweet treat. Who cares if the white chocolate chips have green stripes on them?

Here are a few of my ideas for helping keep your wallet shut tight:

1)      I no longer step foot inside the mall unless I have a specific item to purchase. In less frugal times, I remember going to the mall for entertainment. Pushing my daughter in her stroller, we would stop in numerous stores and more often than not we would buy something that I had not planned on purchasing. Now it was usually on sale, and I may even have used a coupon, BUT did I really NEED it? Probably not. Had I not purchased the item, I would have saved significantly more money.

2)      I think twice (or even three times) before making a purchase. In other words, I have instituted a cooling off period before buying an item. During that time, I ask myself if I really need the item or do I simply want the item. Right now, I need dark colored socks. I want the book, Big Russ and Me, by the late Tim Russert, but I know I can borrow it from the library for free. I most definitely do not need more Christmas giftwrap!

3)      Which brings me to No. 3. I ask myself if I can do without it, make it myself, substitute something else or borrow it. Obviously, I can borrow Russert’s book at the library. Another example: Shopping for ingredients for my Christmas dinner, I picked up a two-pound container of Ricotta cheese for my seafood lasagna. The shelf tag said it was on sale for $3.00. One shelf down, the cottage cheese – an easy substitute — was half the price. It was an easy decision.

How do you curb the urge to part with your hard-earned cash?

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2 responses

8 01 2009
Renee C

I think your blog is wonderful and an inspiration to anyone who cares to save money. In the times we are living it pays to take down time and do the best you can for your pocket and for your family. I too can NOT understand why anyone would WANT to pay full price when they can take just a moment of time to do something as simple as clip a piece of paper and look at it as money in their pocket. I get a “HIGH” as I clip and plan as well as shop now. NO it isnt an easy fix to problems for everyone but for every coupon thrown away that is like money down the drain. I have seriously been thinking of becoming a COUPON CLIPPER as a side thing to do in my down time and offer it to ppl who otherwise dont or wont make the time thus helping them to help me. Thank you for posting, I will keep reading and I wish you the best.

9 01 2009
freetobefrugal

Thanks Renee for your kind words. I hope you’ll visit often. 🙂

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