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Eliminate Non-Essential Items From Your Daily Spending and Save Over $100

Not many people experienced that terrible economic downturn in our country and around the world during the great depression, but the magnitude of those years are highlighted in our history. Call it what you want, but we are in a severe economic downturn and the effects are being felt by every one of us. The list of those suffering is long: loss of jobs, uncertainty about keeping our jobs, loss of homes or fear of losing them in the future, companies declaring bankruptcy or closing down, retirees whose pensions have dwindled by 40 percent or even more, employees whose savings and retirement accounts have been greatly reduced, longer lines at Churches and community food banks, and significant household budget cutbacks. Everyone could readily add their own specific economic crisis to the list because the challenges faced by so many are too many to mention.

 I have not met a single person since Easter who is not been impacted negatively in some way by our poor economy. I am not an economist nor do I have any quick fixes but can honestly say the economic crunch we are in has left many people feeling really insecure about their finances. For people working every day one of the quickest and wisest ways to save is to cut back on daily and weekly non-essential spending. If a 16 ounce of coffee or hot chocolate cost $1.17 at Racetrack, five days a week the cost will be $5.85, $23.49 monthly and $280.80 yearly.

If you smoke name brand cigarettes and you buy one pack per week @ $5.00 per pack—that’s $20.00 per month and $240.00 per year. If you drink soda’s daily @$1.49 each for a 20 ounce bottle that’s $10.43 a week, $41.72 a month and $500.64 a year. $5.00 a day—five times a week for lunch is $25.00, $100.00 a month and $1,200 per year. Bottle water drinkers spend $1.25 per bottle daily, $5.00 a week, $20.00 per month and $240.00 per year. If you cut back on your non-essential spending you will save a substantial amount of money.

If on a typical day you get a cup of coffee on the way to work $1.17 per cup, you need some cigarettes at $5.00 per pack, stop by McDonald’s for breakfast and you spend $5.00, get a .75 cent snack before lunch, get a bargain meal from subway at $4.50 including chips and drink, another midday snack at .75 cents and you don’t feel like cooking so you purchase a meal deal from Boston chicken for $8.00 you have spent $25.17 a day, $125.85 a week, $601.40 a month and $1,208.10 a year. Read part 2, How to Cut Back on Non-essential Purchases.                                            

Next to the mortgage, food is one of the largest monthly expenses for most households. While grocery stores haven’t gone out of business, current economic conditions have affected the overall cost of food. For those with teenage boys especially, the rising monthly food costs can often cripple the budget of a family that is already struggling financially. The good news is that there are ways to trim the food spending without sacrificing one’s dignity or letting the children go hungry.

The following are some great tips for having financial peace of mind during tough economic times.  Plan your meals for the month—a week at a time. Plan what meals will be served each week, plan what foods will be purchased, and plan how to stretch your food. Remember, if you are spending $5.00 a day for lunch that’s $25.00 a week, $100.00 a month, and $1,200 per year, you can save so much more if you carry  your lunch to work daily. The same principle applies to coffee, bottled water, and snack. Listed below are some ways to help trim some of the excess spending from the weekly food budget:

  1.    Make a weekly food menu and stick to it
  2.    Make a grocery list based on your menu and stick to it
  3.    Buy bulk foods to save
  4.    Cook large-quantity foods to serve for dinner later in the week
  5.    Have food items for quick and easy meal preparation
  6.    Don’t carry young children shopping with you
  7.    Don’t make random trips to the grocery store
  8.    Reduce or eliminate dining out and use coupons
  9.    Pick one or two nights a week to eat out at a low-cost restaurant
  10.    Eliminate vending machine purchases
  11.    Buy snacks in bulk and store them in your desk drawer
  12.    Use coupons as often as possible, and watch for sales
  13.    Shop at warehouse stores for non-perishable items
  14.    Join a co-op in your area to purchase food at a discount
  15.    Reduce or eliminate brand-name items if possible
  16.    Don’t shop when hungry or depressed

These tips may be old news for some, but for others they may make a $100 or more difference in their monthly food budget. Especially, those families who haven’t had any instruction budgeting. Picking up a coffee on the way to work is a great treat once in awhile, but when it’s a couple dollars every day, it can add up to $50 or more a month. Before money is spent, regardless of whether it is with cash, debit card, credit card or a check, there are a few important questions that individuals should always ask themselves: Is this item really needed? If so, can the purchase wait?  Is there a comparable or even a used item that costs less?  Can the item be borrowed rather than purchased?  Think about it!

It takes very little time to evaluate these areas, but it can make a world of difference when it comes to spending less. It also can help break the habit of impulsiveness that is so prevalent in today’s society.  A large percentage of the world is sustained daily by only a single bowl of rice. Some may be lucky enough to also have beans. Others may even be granted a small piece of fish. While it is not suggested that one reduce their existence to simply rice and beans, it is important to remember that a human body can survive on much simpler foods than what Americans and others around the world are accustomed to eating.

During a time of financial hardship, it may be necessary to significantly alter the food shopping so that money can be allocated to other monthly bills. First, the initial and obvious way to decrease food spending is to simply reduce food intake. Perhaps a second helping of mashed potatoes isn’t necessary. Even a late-night club sandwich can be passed over. The less food consumed in one sitting, the more servings will be available for future meals, thus reducing the frequency of food purchases. The math is simple, although budgeting is often is overlooked.

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