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Sunday, May 26, 2024   

Plugging the Leaks in Your Budget
by Nancy Twigg
Nancy Twigg is a speaker and author who loves inspiring others to live more simply. Adapted from Nancy’s newly revised book, Celebrate Simply: Your Guide to Simpler, More Meaningful Holidays and Special Occasions (www.celebratesimply.com). Visit Nancy online at www.countingthecost.com
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Nancy Twigg

Ben Franklin once said, "Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship."

Five dollars here, ten dollars there -- these little leaks may not seem like much at the time but added together, they can make a serious dent in your attempts to control your cash flow. Here are some quick reminders for stretching your dollars by controlling the most common areas of budget "leakage."

1. Grocery shopping - Try switching to a "cash-only" system for grocery spending. Buy in bulk if doing so saves you money. Use coupons only for products you would purchase anyway. Stock up when there's a good sale. Look for items that are reduced for quick sale. Try to postpone each shopping trip as long as possible by creatively using up leftovers and whatever else you have on hand.

2. Eating out - Make going out to eat a treat for special occasions only. To keep costs down, use dollar-off or buy-one-get-one-free coupons. Order a less-expensive appetizer as your entree. Save money by splitting an entree with a friend. Skip the extras like appetizers and dessert. Drink water (plain or with a twist of lemon) as your beverage.

3. Clothes shopping - Get in the habit of checking clearance racks often for bargains. Avoid trendy clothes; go for durable classics that never go out of style. Shop at thrift stores, consignment stores and yard sales. Trade good-condition clothes you no longer wear with a friend. Save money by keeping your wardrobe simple: stick with basic mix-and-match pieces in coordinating colors.

4. Entertainment costs - Use dollar-off and buy-one-get-one-free coupons. Look for free activities to entertain yourself. See a matinee or second-run movie. Ask about specials during non-peak hours. If you go with several other people, ask about group discounts. Plan potlucks and rented-movie nights with friends rather than going out for dinner and a show.

5. Impulse spending - Pack snacks ahead of time rather than buying from vending machines or running through a drive-thru. Swap your old magazines with a friend who subscribes to other publications. If you must have your gum, candy or mints, buy them in multi-packs rather than individually from convenience stores or vending machines. Use the "24-hour" or "7-day" rule for unplanned purchases: buy the item only if you still think you need it after thinking about it for a while.



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