Tips to Tighten Your Belt in Tough Times

by Marianne Giullian


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Time to Tighten the Belt

Benjamin Franklin said, "A small leak will sink a great ship." Small things can really make a difference. If you consistently spend more than you earn, even if it is a small amount, it will create stress and financial bondage. On the other hand, Benjamin Franklin also said, "Little strokes fell great oaks." Focusing on spending less than you earn makes money available for saving or reducing debts.

This reminded me of a recent newspaper article that stated how people are combating higher prices by cutting out small things. Even if it is a small amount, it will add up over time to bring a greater feeling of peace and financial freedom. In a recent newspaper article, it said that people are spending less on the small things to handle the rising costs of things. The following ideas can help you save money by spending less in different ways.

  1. General Things: Do your own work instead of hiring someone else to clean your house, cook your meals, fix your car or mow your lawn. Get rid of a storage unit. If the items in the storage unit are valuable to you, they should be in your home. If not, you are wasting a lot of money storing things that probably aren't worth the price you pay to store them. With the upcoming rebate to stimulate the economy, pay of debts or build a reserve for unexpected expenses. Get rid of cable television or gym memberships. De-clutter your home and sell the things you don't want. Take care of what you have. For example, regular brushing and flossing your teeth could save you hundreds of dollars in dental bills.

  2. Gasoline: Consolidate trips by planning ahead of time to do your errands on the same day. Carpool. Remove excess weight from your car. Get information ahead of time by calling on the phone to save you a trip to the store if they don't have what you want or if it isn't in your price range. Slow down as it is more fuel efficient. Inflate tires properly. Buy gas at the cheapest place in town. Walk or ride a bike or use public transportation.

  3. Make Things Last Longer: Use half the amount of soap for laundry and for the dishwasher. Wash clothes in cold water if there are no visible stains. Wear your outer clothing more than once if it doesn't smell or isn't dirty. Tear dryer sheets in half. Wash your hair every other day.

  4. Utilities: Lower the thermostat and wear a sweater. Take shorter showers. Unplug the things you aren't using. Run full loads of laundry and dishes.

  5. Entertainment: Go to a matinee instead of a movie in the evening. Find free concerts in the area. Check out books, CDs and DVDs from the library. Have a potluck dinner instead of a dinner party. Find out who has the best prices to rent DVDs in town and go there for your rentals.

  6. Eating out: Go to lunch instead of dinner. Split a meal. Find out about restaurant specials. Leave kids at home. Drink water instead of soda. Get food to go instead of eating at the restaurant and paying a tip. Eat half of your meal and take the rest home for another day.

  7. Clothing: Buy second hand. Trade prom dresses. Always buy on sale. Buy off season. Have a clothes swap.

  8. Groceries: Do your own cooking. Make your own bread, tortillas, bagels, crackers, etc. Find less expensive alternatives. For example, make spaghetti instead of lasagna. Use cash when you shop so you can't go over your limit. Stop buying junk food and soda. Use half the amount of meat or cheese in recipes. Don't be loyal to one store. Buy produce in season. Buy store brands. Take your lunch to work or school. Don't buy precut veggies or shredded cheese. Instead, cut or shred it yourself. Eat hot cereal instead of cold. Go shopping less often. Don't waste food. Instead, eat your leftovers.

Little things do add up. By following the advice of Benjamin Franklin, and by focusing on the little things, it can really make a difference.

Take the Next Step:

  • Little things do add up. Pick one of the above ideas that you're not currently practicing and start this week. Then start something new next week and so forth. Before long, you'll notice the impact that these little things are having on your big financial picture.
  • Subscribe to our weekly "Surviving Tough Times" newsletter by sending an email to subscribe-InflationFighters@hub.thedollarstretcher.com.
    This free html newsletter will provide ways to survive in this challenging economy. Each issue features nine articles to help you stretch your dollar!

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