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"Living Well on Less"

By Luci Fardo

Everyone wants to spend the least money possible. In today's economy that isn't always easy to do. At any stage of life there is challenge of getting the most out of money. We all work hard for our money. The prices today are going up faster than the wages paid can keep up. I have been in different situations over my life and have experienced little and much in the way of money. I believe that anyone can save money if they follow specific basic steps in regards to money. I would love to share some tips and tips to help you to live the best on the money you have.

The first important thing is to realize why you are trying to be a better money manager. You must strategize and be flexible to ensure that you are best able to save money. This doesn't mean doing without but to do more with what you have.

Being frugal isn't about being cheap. It is about being conscious of how you are spending your money. It isn't necessary to scrimp and and do without the things that you want and need. It is about finding the best buy and being able to get the most for the money you spend. In our family we tell each other about an amazing deal we were able to find.

Only try one change at a time. If you try to change everything at once it will be far to hard. It is better to learn and make changes a few at a time. Too much change can make you just give up on the entire process.

Track your current expenses. When I first decided to start saving more money I tracked my expenses for a month. This way I was aware of all of the money I was spending. I knew the amount of bills I was paying. I also was able to track how much money was being spent on other things. Make sure that you account for all of your spending.

Don't be brand loyal. Always try to figure out if the off brand is as good as the name brand. We have a lot of things we like the Kroger brand of. There are some that we prefer the name brand. Buying the store brand and clipping online store coupons saves us a lot of money.

Check the price per unit when you are shopping. Make sure that you compare that way to make sure you are really getting the best deal. Just because the price appears to be less it is sometimes deceiving if the volume is a lot less.

Clothing is expensive. I go to consignment shops and to Goodwill. I find gently worn and new items at both for far less than the department store. They are high-quality items that I love very much. Don't get me wrong I will buy new clothing, but unless it is something that I fall in love with or need I see no reason.

Fill up your gas tank at the right time! Make sure that you are getting the best buy for gas. We use fuel points at Krogers or Meijers. This will save a ton of money over time.

Make you coffee at home. Stop buying at Starbucks or high priced cafes. You can buy name brand coffee and make it at home. I even take a travel mug of coffee if I go to Hardees for breakfast. This saves a lot of money for me and many other people I know.

When you are having a baby try shopping for clothes and baby items at yard sales. You can find like new items there. Babies grow out of clothes and things so quickly that there are nice things out there.

Shop with manufacturers not with retailers. The manufacturer makes the item and sells to retailers. The retailer sales to you. When possible check online to see if you can buy directly from the manufacturer. This way you are cutting out the middle-man.

Join a gym at the beginning of the year or at the end of the month. This way you will get a better deal and trial membership. To save even more money buy the equipment to use at home.

Cut back on meat. I love meat but it can be pricy. Even if you cut out meat several times a week then the savings will add up.

Save on produce buy shopping in season and when possible shop locally. The freight is what cost the most with these items. If it is in season and local it will help save on the amount spent for shipping.

Don't buy more food than the amount you can eat or freeze. Food waste accounts for a large portion of the grocery expense each year.

Use credit cards that have a reward program. Make sure you pay them off each month as well. You can get money back from the bank with the rewards programs. Make sure you take advantage of any of these programs.

Evaluate your monthly expenses and look for expenses that can be cut or lowered. Check to see if you are paying for subscription based services that you are no longer using. Shop around for car insurance. There are many places to check to make sure you aren't wasting money.

Take photos of your receipts. I use an app called Fetch. I scan receipts and then I get points to use for Amazon gift cards. There are a lot of apps like that out there. Take advantage of them.

Improve your credit score. This is an easy way to save thousands in the future. It lowers interest rates which is where a lot of cost lies.

Choose low-cost experiences. Head to the park for a picnic and a walk. Head to a museum to browse. Go for a hike in a state park. There are a lot of activities that you can enjoy that are inexpensive but fun.

Travel in the off-season. When you are ready for a getaway check into going at an off-season. There are better rates and less crowds. This can give you a better overall experience. Prices can be 30% less after labor day.


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