Friday, April 9, 2010

Money Matters

In this economy, money has become one of the most important issues weighing on family's hearts.  There are still families out there without jobs, some without homes, and the poverty level of the United States is at an all-time high.  With that in mind, saving money has become the number one thing on everyone's mind.

One of the best ways to save money is, of course, to just not buy anything.  By that I mean anything frivolous.  Who REALLY needs a 42 inch plasma HD or the best video gaming system around.  These are WANTS not NEEDS.  It's okay, even necessary to give in to those wants every once in a while, but not every month.  Rather, save the money you would have spent and put it in an emergency fund, go on a family trip somewhere, or, better yet, put it in a fund and watch it grow.

If you do have to make a big purchase, or even a medium one, such as a car or clothes, buy used!  Nowadays, you can get a wonderful pre-owned car at a fraction of what a new one would cost.  And there are thousands of thrift stores and resale shops that can save you up to a whopping 95% on items like clothes and shoes (only buy shoes that do not look worn, though, and sanitize them with Lysol or in a hot dryer before wearing).

Another way to save money is in the grocery store.  I used to laugh at women that used coupons on a regular basis.  Now I long to be one of them and learn their wise ways.  Done right, shopping with coupons can save you 50-85% on your grocery bill! Additionally, look at the brands your buying.  Do they work for you?  If you buy a name brand, is it the best value? Some store brands are great, but not all are the best value for your buck. For example, one store brand has a cooking spray that is almost a dollar cheaper than their competitor.  BUT the quality is horrible and the spray doesn't work right half the time, leaking the product out on my hand when I use it. With the name brand,  however, the spray works perfectly, so I therefore use less. With the store brand, I was buying it every week. With the name brand, I am buying it every two weeks. I prefer to spend the extra dollar buying the name brand, knowing that I'm getting a better value. It's the same with many other products as well - pasta sauce, rice, skillet meals . . . remember, some of these products probably cost less for a reason (NOT ALL - I can contest to many, many store brand products that are wonderful!)!

Yet another savings can be in your home.  Heating and cooling costs are higher and higher each year.  If you feel your bill is too high, there are several things you can do to help with that.  Add extra insulation under your home (for pier and beam homes or for manufactured homes) or in the attic, find tinted film to layer onto your windows, find window sealers you can put at the bottom of your window frame to shut out drafts, if you have the money, invest in a couple of window units for your most used rooms for the summer - it's been proven that using a window unit instead of central heat and air can save up to 30% in the summer. When you buy new appliances, look for those with the Energy Star rating - they're good for the planet and your pocket book.

One final way you can save money is to do and make things yourself.  The internet is riddled with recipes for home made foods, cleaning products, even hair care and pet care products that you can make yourself.  These things can save you up to 75%!

Remember that sometimes in order to SAVE money, you may first have to SPEND some money.  But in the long run, the money you save will long make up for what you spend preparing.

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