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Quick tips for saving money

DORA, Ala. (BP)–Want to know the quickest way to save money? Stop spending what you already have.

For instance, if I gave you the choice between a fast-food meal and a cruise, which would you choose? By refusing to “count the cost,” most people actually pick the fast food. Here’s how: If you work outside the home Monday through Friday and occasionally stop for breakfast, buy a drink or snack or two at work, and eat a modest lunch out, you spend an average of $2,500 a year, or $12,500 in five years.

That’s enough for a nice cruise.

But by brown-bagging leftovers from home and allotting yourself $2 a day or about $44 a month, you can buy at the grocery store a generous selection of foods, snacks and drinks to keep on hand for workdays and still save $2,000 a year or $10,000 over the course of 5 years.

Here are just a few other ways to save:

— Just by consistently choosing a gas station that charges 5 cents a gallon less than one you may prefer, you’ll save an average of around $80 a year, or $400 over five years.

— If you’re a woman who wears acrylic nails, start using your own nails and doing your own manicures. This will save an average of $520 a year, or $2,600 over five years.

— A family of 4 who eats out just once a week — if there is such a thing — simply can switch to drinking water with their meals and save around $416 a year, or $2,080 in five years.

— Most people pay a cell phone bill of at least $50 a month, which comes to $600 a year, or $3,000 over 5 years. By switching to a prepaid phone, you can buy a 1,000-minute card for $100, then limit yourself to 100 minutes a month. You’ll save $480 a year, or $2,400 in five years.

— Satellite or cable TV costs an average of at least $50 a month. Is a year’s TV-watching worth $600? That’s $3,000 over 5 years. Your local library isn’t just books — they have all the latest movies available for free, as well as books on CD, a great way to spend your drive time. Can you imagine a “book night” at home when you and your family listen to an audio book together or everyone reads instead of watching television?

— Unless you really need the Internet in your home, why pay for it at all? Your local library offers free Internet access. But if you do want this service at home but don’t need it for work purposes, why pay more than you have to? Most people are paying around $30 a month, which comes to $360 a year, or $1,800 in 5 years. NetZero’s 10-hours-a-month plan is free; and their regular dial-up service starts at $9.95 a month.

What have all these simple suggestions saved you in five years? More than $22,000. And what have you given up and missed out on? Not much of anything.

You may discover that a lot of what you’re spending could be saved — and for far better purposes.
Judy Woodward Bates is a freelance writer, author, speaker and creator of Bargainomics, a Bible-based time and money management philosophy, and the author of the book, “Blessedly Budgeted Women’s Events.” Visit her website at www.bargainomics.com.

    About the Author

  • Judy Woodward Bates