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Monday, January 18, 2010

Simple Steps to Saving Money

While I am a life-long frugalista, I pushed my thrifty ways into over-drive as the economy took a nose dive in 2008. We have always been careful with our resources, but we had to make ever-larger cuts in our budget as the real estate market (I'm a Realtor) grew worse. Here are a few of the steps we took:

Heater not turned on until it got really, really cold, and then thermostat set a degree, or even two lower than usual. Air conditioner only in our bedroom, only at night, and only when it got really, really hot. Lights out in rooms we aren't using. Far fewer restaurant meals. Extra-diligent meal planning based on sale prices and what was already in the fridge and pantry. Dry cleaning at a bare minimum. Land line phone service reduced to basic (still can't get rid of it altogether). Limited magazine renewals. Less expensive coffee (though we really miss those artisanal, fresh-roasted beans!). Hand-made Christmas gifts. Shopping limited to necessities. And that's just scratching the surface of our frugal efforts.

Now that the market is improving, will we go back to our pre-recession spending? I don't think so. Well, maybe the coffee beans. But the fact is, we don't miss most of the things we gave up. We don't feel deprived. We're used to a slightly cooler home in winter and dress appropriately. We don't need lights on in empty rooms. We're glad to have the call-waiting service a thing of the past because it was so annoying. And when we replaced our house phones, we bought a system (on sale) with built-in voicemail so we no longer need to pay for that. We don't miss all those magazines. I was able to add some great new items to my wardrobe at the clothing swap I organized. And I really enjoy knitting and sewing gifts for family and friends.

Here are 4 simple steps you can take to save money every day:
  1. Turn out the lights.
  2. Turn down the thermostat - even a half a degree (or up in the case of air conditioning).
  3. Don't buy things you don't need. Remind yourself that there is a big difference between a "want" and a "need."
  4. Take care of your things so they last.
No matter what your finances, these steps provide a practical way to conserve your resources, with the bonus of conserving natural resources as well.

What simple, everday things do you do to save money? Please share.

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