Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Great Ways To Save $ In a Tough Economy

When I was a young boy my grandfather took me on a train trip from Detroit to Niagara Falls.  I don't remember a lot of that jaunt but I do remember being so thrilled to travel with my grandpa and to ride on a train, something I'd never done before.

Apparently before we left for home, however, he suggested that we get a present for my grandma, my mom, dad and sister. So we found a souvenir store and he let me pick out the ones I wanted. But as we headed for the cashier, he noticed that there was one extra gift in my stash and he asked, "Who's that for?"  To which I happily replied, "That's for me!"

It's interesting that the desire for more, especially for us, starts early in life. And there's nothing wrong with having some nice things and enjoying the blessings God has given to us and our country as a whole. But the recent economic struggles are perhaps reminding us more and more that things may not always be so easy to come by and that we need to stretch our money a bit further.

And when we save we give more away to others who need it more than we do.  So let me suggest some ways that you and your family can very easily save a bit of money while teaching that  in most cases we already have enough without getting one more gift for us.

1. Get more books and videos from the library. I rarely read a book twice, especially novels, and I only own a few videos.  I don't have time to re-watch many of them anyway. So saving money by using the local library is a wise idea for most people. \

2. Eat out more reasonably.  I'll talk more in a minute about eating at home, too, but you can save money when you go to a restaurant as well. Drink water more often instead of alcohol, iced tea or soda. With a family of four those kinds of things can add ten to twenty dollars to your bill.

3. Eat at home more often. Our restaurants are full most every night because many people are too exhausted to think about meals at home. But if you work at it you can figure out some ways to prepare easy meals by using a crock pot, having the kids put something in the oven at a certain time, etc.

4. Vacation more wisely. Yes, staying home would save the most money and that's one idea. Pick some local places you could go that are nearby and fun. Even get away overnight but use the internet to find rooms that are a bargain even in very nice hotels. If you do go away, shop around online. Don't take the first option that comes along for hotels, rental cars and flights.  We're off to Colorado next week and by waiting and looking my wife got us a full-sized car for 8 days for $150 including taxes and fees.

5. Make do with what you have more often and longer. Do we really need the latest car, iPhone, basketball shoes? Can we live without another manicure or massage a bit longer? Can we survive without being in the club again this year?  Do we really need twenty shirts, dresses or shoes when we already have eighteen?

6. Keep better records. Most families in financial trouble have little idea what they are really spending. They put a wad of cash in their wallet and it suddenly disappears. Or they use their credit card over and over but never get a receipt or write down what they've spent. If you look honestly at your outgo you will probably be shocked and begin to rein in your spending.

7. Give more resources away . . . to the needy, to your church, to local organization, etc. When we have less to spend we spend it more wisely. And when we give to others, God does something special in us that mere getting will never do. We begin to focus more on what matters and the needs of others, not our own.

So you can save, you can overcome your financial challenges and you can enjoy some freedom with your money. Try some of these ideas and others you know about and really make a difference this year.
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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