Struggling families have two choices when money gets tight. Which will yours choose?

A Crash Course in Creative Frugality

by Nancy Twigg

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When the economy is slow and times are lean, struggling families have two choices: continue spending like nothing is wrong, or adopt a new attitude of thriftiness and simplified living. The first option can lead to credit card debt and bankruptcy fast, but the second can be enjoyable if you use a little creativity.

Whether your family was hit hard by the recent economic downturn or if the slowing economy was merely a blip on your financial radar, either way you can benefit from a crash course in creative frugality. Creative frugality is the art of using ingenuity and inventiveness in your efforts to economize. It s not merely saving for the sake of saving; creative frugality is making a game of getting the most for the least outlay of cash.

Most people understand what creativity is, and they have a good idea what it means to be frugal. But the idea of putting the two together is a little hard to grasp. To get you started in the right direction (or to help you refocus if you re already headed down the frugal pathway), here is a week s worth of challenges to stretch your abilities to think and act in creatively frugal ways:

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Sunday For at least one day this week, challenge yourself not to spend any money on anything. Enjoy the feeling of keeping your cash in your wallet.

Monday When you do spend, put yourself on a "cash only" system. Give your credit cards and even your checkbook a rest by buying only what you can pay for with cash.

Tuesday Try not to purchase anything this week at full price. Use coupons, buy on sale, or simply delay your purchase until you can get the item at a discount.

You might also like: Being Frugal Without Looking Poor

Wednesday Put off a trip to the grocery store as long as you can this week. Be creative in using up what you already have in your pantry.

Thursday - Surf the Internet for new ways to save money. Sign up for a free e-mail newsletter or check Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest for places that will provide ideas and encouragement.

Friday For the next seven days, don't spend any money on entertainment. Brainstorm with your family to come up with things you can do that are free: search YouTube for interesting videos, see who can find the best website on a topic, do some mall-walking, or read a good book.

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Saturday Look for ways to save gas and give your car a break this week. Combine errands, do business online or get some exercise by walking to places that are within walking distance.

Nancy Twigg is a Christian speaker and the author of Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions

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