Do more with less
By Kregg Hood
When money is tight, choose to do more with less. As you
know, the marketing “geniuses” in our culture constantly tempt us to spend
more than we should. So, if you need a few ideas about reducing your
expenses, here’s a “Top 10” list:
1.“Just say no” to new debt, especially on the big-ticket
items. Not even zero-percent interest rates justify a new commitment.
2. Make and follow your spending plan. Don’t wait to
figure out what you can and can’t spend. Be tough on yourself at first,
then relax and reward yourself later when you’ve truly followed the
3. Watch out for your handy ATM card. First,
remember that many ATM accounts charge a fee to use their service.
Remember that it’s far too easy to get money out of your account. Decide
how much cash you can afford to spend each month and use your ATM
only according to your plan.
4. Take a “shopping sabbatical.” Sometimes we
go shopping because it relaxes us or because we’re bored. Watch out
for any trip that takes you where you might be tempted to buy
something you don’t really need.
5. Avoid impulse purchases. Save up for all
your purchases and wait until you’re sure you need them. Use what you
have a bit longer; fix things or wear them out.
6. Use your cash to pay down any outstanding
credit card balance. Every dollar you pay on the balance reduces debt
and the interest you’re paying on it. You’ll be surprised at the difference
small, consistent steps can make.
7. Stay home and cook. You can often buy groceries for
three to five home-cooked meals for the same price of one meal eaten out.
8. Take your lunch to work. This is a quick way to save
$25 to $30 per week. That may not sound like much, but it’s over $100 per
9. Discontinue nonessential monthly subscriptions and
memberships. Is cable TV or Internet really more important than inner
peace? Do you really need a daily newspaper? Can you exercise at
home instead of at a health club? One expense by itself may not seem
like much, but together they all add up at the end of the month.
10. Use the envelope system for spending. When you get
paid, tithe, pay the rest of your regular bills next, then write yourself
a check for the remaining money and cash it. This cash goes into a
series of envelopes for each spending category where you decide, in advance,
how much you can afford to spend until your next paycheck. When the
cash is gone, stop spending. This is the single most powerful step you
can take if you really want to get your spending under control.
Follow these ideas and you will feel as if you’ve
received a raise. Financial wisdom empowers you to find more money to give
and save, even at your current level of income. Plus, as you trust more
deeply in God and increase your commitment to be a wise steward of your
finances, you will grow in your contentment, too. Once you learn this
secret, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start earlier.
KREGG HOOD is a senior vice president with AG Financial