Take charge of your spending with these simple steps!

Don’t wait until tomorrow to get a grip on your spending. Using a few simple steps can help point you in the right direction today. It isn’t always necessary to make huge strides in order to make changes. For example, you wouldn’t expect to lose 10 pounds in one week by changing your eating habits. Just one pound a week would equal 52 pounds in a year! Focus on the long haul instead of just the quick results.

Even small changes can add up to big savings in the future. Here are a few steps to get you started today.

Step 1: Cut your food costs – Take a look at how you are spending your money in the food category. Plan your meals around items that are on sale at your local grocery store or find meals that use less expensive ingredients. My local grocer often runs sales for spaghetti ingredients. It might be that you buy the pasta sauce and get the noodles for free or maybe buy a spaghetti sauce get one free. I usually stock up when these specials are offered.

If you find yourself eating out frequently, try to do a better job planning meals at home. With today’s hectic schedules, it might be difficult to eat meals at home but try to as often as possible. It is a great way to save on the cost of food. If you must eat out, try to find coupons and discounts to use that will offset the cost of the meal.

Step 2: Cut your personal care costs – Buy generic whenever possible and again watch your local grocer and discount marts for discounts and coupons. My family buys generic over the counter medication and other personal care products whenever we can find them. Shampoo, deodorant, soap and other personal care items can be purchased in generic brand so opt for these more frequently. Our local dollar stores will run “$5 off your purchase of $25 or more” coupons generally on Saturdays. We receive the coupon on the bottom of our receipts. Additionally, most stores now have websites and apps that provide coupons and discounts.

Another way to cut costs in this area is do your own manicure/pedicure and hair coloring whenever possible. This one step can save you hundreds of dollars per year.

Step 3: Make sure you really need the item you are purchasing – Just because the item is on sale or you just happen to see it in the store does not necessarily mean that you need it. Consider the cost of the item and the chance that you will actually use it. From time to time I have gone through the pantry and thrown away products whose expiration date had passed. I should have only bought the items that I could have used before they expired. We could also tie this back to meal planning; knowing what you will actually use.

Step 4: Cut entertainment costs – Instead of always going to the movies and buying all those expensive snacks, go to Red Box and rent a movie then make your own snacks at home. The cost of a movie ticket has increased considerably over the years not to mention the costs of popcorn and a soda. If you really want to go to the movie theater, choose the matinee when ticket prices are lower. Eat before you go to the theater to save on the costs of snacks. Or do like we often do and stop by the dollar store and buy the large box of candy for a dollar and carry it in your purse. An even better option might be to take a walk at the local park which would be much healthier for you.

A few changes in your spending habits could make a big difference down the road. Remember, it’s all up to you. Make the choice to change a few spending habits this week that will make a positive difference in your budget!

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