My grandfather always used to say that if a person earned a dime, he should save a nickel. I’m sure most of us would be in much better financial shape if we were to live by this money mantra. I’m also sure most of us can spout off long lists of reasons why it’s not possible for us to do so.
Times have changed. Life has changed. The economy has changed; however, my grandfather and his peers lived through wars, stock market crashes, depressions, recessions and many other crises that theoretically should have caused their ultimate demise, but didn’t, so they must have been doing something right.
What can we do nowadays to avoid major debt? Since drastic lifestyle, employment and demographic changes have taken place since my grandfather’s day, there are different issues with which we must contend regarding finances, debt, and keeping our heads above water.
Is it still possible to earn a dime and save a nickel? It’s debatable, but many say that it is. I have always found that a good way to save money is to avoid debt, if that makes sense. For instance, I’ve never been a coupon clipper because the practice of using coupons on a regular basis tends to prompt me to purchase things I would not normally buy. On one hand, yes, I will save $5 if I have a half-off coupon for a $10 item; however, I’ll save $10 if I don’t buy it at all because it is not a product I normally use.
Are there hidden costs or habits in your life that may be causing you to accrue unnecessary debt? The following list of ideas may alert you to a problem, and help you think of ways to reduce debt and save money:
*Buying in bulk doesn’t always work the way it is supposed to; in fact, in my own family, this type of shopping proved financially disastrous because my children tend to eat whatever amount of food is available. While purchasing three times the amount of a particular food item may cost less overall, if that same amount of food gets eaten within the normal grocery shopping cycle time frame, more money winds up being spent in the long run. In short, surplus food on hand tempts my kids to eat more, thus eliminating what is supposed to be a ‘food stash’ and causing me to have to shop for more.
*Getting hooked on a particular brand may cost you money. Failing to compare prices simply because you’re in the habit of using one company’s product may cause you to spend more and save less. It never hurts to check out other types and brands, especially if someone is offering a lower price.
*How often do you toss things into your shopping cart, only to find you already have a shelf full of the item at home? Shopping out of habit instead of need is not the best way to save money. Take a look at what you have on hand at home, then create a shopping list for things you really need.
*Do you leave lights on or appliances you aren’t using, plugged in? As a child, I never understood why my dad would complain if we left lights on or held the refrigerator door open too long. When I began to pay electric bills, I fully understood. Wi-Fi can be a major-money-sucker, not to mention cause certain internet systems to run slow, if your family’s Wi-Fi use exceeds your monthly plan. If your kids use tablets or Kindles, and do not disconnect Wi-Fi in settings when they turn off their devices, then Wi-Fi is still being used. This may slow your system and increase spending.
*Using cloths instead of paper products, hanging laundry outdoors to dry, and living without air conditioning as much as possible are other small habits that may help you save money.
As for increasing debt, many people fall into the habit of treating credit like cash. This is often one of the first steps to take if you want to cut back on spending and increase savings. Remember that shopping on credit often means you will pay more than the sticker price if you’re not paying off your credit card balance every month.
Think ahead, use cash when possible, shop by need, not by whim, and take time to compare prices. These are simple ways to reduce debt and build savings. Do you have other suggestions? Add them in the comments!
Writer Bio: Judy Dudich
Judy Dudich resides in the beautiful woods of Pennsylvania, where 24 acres of land and a home-office provide the perfect setting for her children’s home-education and her own homesteading and business ventures. Life is full of blessings (and challenges!) for Judy, as a wife, mother of 10 and Grammy to six. She is a published author, whose book, “I Surrender/A Study Guide for Women” continues to encourage and support others in Christian family lifestyles throughout the world. Judy has also previously worked in the online speaking circuit. Her passion for permaculture, re-purposing, foraging and organic gardening fills her days with learning and adventure that she loves to share.