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The Stretchy Dollar
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Does it sometimes seem like the money is vanishing into thin air? Saving money isn’t easy, but there are ways to cut corners without cramping your style. Here are five simple tips that can save you hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars each year:

Tip #1 – Start from scratch. Pre-packaged meals are convenient but costly. Saving money on your food bill is as easy as starting with basic ingredients and using a recipe. Bring family members into the kitchen with you and use this time to get to know each other better. The meal will probably taste better, and you’ll have the opportunity to get closer.

Tip #2 – Be inconvenienced. Stopping by the convenience store on your way home to pick up a few grocery items might cut a few minutes off your commute time, but it can add huge costs to your overall bottom line. Planning ahead to get the items you need at a  grocery store can help you put more money back into your pocket.

Tip #3 – Dare to compare. When shopping, compare per ounce and unit prices with each other on the items you need. Packaging has been designed to lure the consumer into purchasing. Don’t always believe the hype. Compare and save.

Tip #4 – Use coupons. I have a friend whose wife is such a coupon queen that they literally save up to 60% off on all the items that they purchase. She’s shown me receipts for items that totaled over $100 that she bought for under $30. It doesn’t take long for a number of these types of transactions to add up to significant savings. Is it a little inconvenient? Yes. But the money saved can be worth it!

Tip #5 – Shop at “end-of-the-season” sales. If you always buy the latest styles in clothing, why not wait until the season is over and purchase your items for the next year? Styles don’t usually change that drastically from year to year, and you can save up to 70% off retail prices. I once purchased quality neckties that were marked down from $25 to a mere 77 cents each. Your savings will probably not be that drastic (that’s the only time I’ve ever gotten a deal like that on ties), but you can save a large amount of money.

Bonus Tip -  Learn to live on a budget. Those smart consumers who learn to live within their means can and often do save thousands of dollars each year. Find a good budgeting program (even if it’s as simple as sitting down and creating envelopes for each expense area) and then live by it. Your bank account will thank you for paying attention to details and planning ahead!

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Michael Temple. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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