It doesn't have to be so hard
Take the Pain Out of Penny Pinching
by Shaunna Privratsky
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We have all experienced the pain of not having enough money at one time or another. Circumstances may have led to your penny-pinching lifestyle or a desire to save money towards a big dream. Whether it is by necessity or by choice, here are some easy ways to take the pain out of penny pinching.
- Attitude is everything. If you are resentful about scrimping, you will be unhappy. Instead, look at it as beating the system. Saving a bunch with coupons is like free money that you can put towards something else. When you score a major discount, the savings can go toward a fun outing you might not have been able to afford.
- Reward your loyalty. If you frequently shop at specific stores, sign up for their loyalty card. You will get special discounts and deals and may even get free money like buy one get one free or $5 for every $20 spent. Set up a separate email, so your regular inbox doesn't get jammed with all the daily notices.
- Get free gas. I get gas at the lowest-priced station in town. Gasbuddy.com lists all the stations and prices in the area to find the lowest one. Now they offer a loyalty card! You can earn points towards free gas and even link store cards to earn even more points. In six months, I've earned $20 already!
- Give yourself the gift of time. Instead of running to the store whenever you run out of something, stock up a little and buy enough to last a few days. Also, price match at places like Walmart or Target, so you can just go to one store instead of six. Fewer trips mean more time and spending less money.
- Enjoy prompt pay discounts. Our healthcare provider recently started a prompt pay discount, which saved us 5%. If you always pay your bills right away, call your other services and ask if they have a similar discount.
- Use competition to your advantage. If your city has multiple companies providing internet or TV services, call your current company and ask for a loyalty discount. Often you will get a better deal and still avoid the hassle of switching companies.
- Have some free fun. Most cities post a weekly activities page with free outings listed like concerts, family movie nights at the park, story time at the library, picnics at the skate-park, a bike trail, or sporting events at your child's school. You could also create your own backyard oasis and have a mini-vacation right at home.
- Make a dream board. What are you penny pinching for, anyways? Do you want to buy a house, go on a wonderful vacation, or own a lakeside cabin? Create a visual reminder by cutting out things you want in a home or beautiful sunsets over a tropical beach. If you just want to have a better life, post pictures of your children and imagine a better future.
- Track your progress. Write down specific goals like a monthly spending plan. If you are working towards paying off your credit cards, mark each day off on the calendar until you reach the day you are debt-free.
- As you reach each milestone, reward your hard work! Do something that brings you joy.
Being frugal isn't always rainbows and roses. It's easy to get discourages. When that happens, look over the progress you've made and remind yourself why you are doing this. You can take the pain out of penny pinching and look forward to a brighter financial future.
Shaunna Privratsky became an expert in personal finance out of necessity. Between writing, reading and gardening, she is always on the lookout for bargains. Please sign up for the free newsletters at The Discount Diva. You can also visit Shaunna on Google+.
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