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Overcoming frugal fatigue: 5 ways to dump lazy money spending
When it comes to saving money on everything you do or buy, creating and maintaining smart habits of how you approach everyday life is key. Being savvy at finding deals, using coupons, and stacking offers take effort. Period. Effort that, quite frankly, even dedicated coupon users and deal-seekers find they don't always want to make, especially around the holidays. It's easy to get lax when things are busier and there are so many more purchases to be made than at other times of the year.
Some couponers have even given up a little on couponing, given that getting really stellar grocery deals has become harder over the past few years. But there are so many deals and coupons and offers beyond just groceries, not to mention that, in some ways, grocery deals are returning. You just have to remain diligent and not let frugal fatigue take over.
I have 5 ways to dump lazy money spending, perfect for the weeks left in December:
(1) Calculate your time.
Even though it's tempting to just grab what you need, pay what is asked, and get your shopping over with – don't. Stop for a moment and calculate how many hours you'd have to work at your job to pay for the item you're buying without a deal or a coupon. Is it worth your time? Then consider how much time it would realistically take you to search for a better deal and use a coupon. I guarantee the value for your time is always going to be much greater spending a few minutes to find and use a coupon or hunt down a deal. This is a little trickier when standing in a grocery store, but when shopping for other goods or online, it's easy. A few moments could save you at least 10%, and often much more. Check out Retailmenot.com for coupons and coupon codes.
(2) Develop a shopping routine.
This especially applies to shopping online or doing comparisons before heading to the store. First, compare prices for the item you seek. Go through Swagbucks.com to earn points just for browsing. Now that you've chosen the store you'll buy from, check Giftcardzen.com for a discounted gift card. You could save an extra 5-15% or more. Then, look for a coupon code or printable coupon that applies to your purchase. Next, if shopping online, go through Swagbucks before buying, to activate any available cash back.
Before paying, don't forget to look at the cost of shipping versus buying another item. During the holidays, thresholds for free shipping are lowered. This often makes it more economical to get another item rather than pay for shipping. Alternatively, see if the option to ship to your local store is available for free. Finally, if you purchase from a store that has a points or loyalty program, don't forget to leverage any perks or discounts you're entitled to.
(3) Delegate someone with more time.
If you honestly don't have time to be diligent in seeking out the best deals, assign someone else the job. It's the perfect opportunity to teach teens how to save and be frugal, and if you want, you can even offer an incentive like a percentage of the savings as a small wage.
(4) Stop using the credit card.
How many times have you whipped out the credit card simply because you haven't kept up with the bank account? You're not confident that you wouldn't bounce something paying with the debit card, so out it comes. The problem with that decision is, even if you typically pay off the card every month, should you lose track and can't pay it all, you'll pay interest. Not only that, but you've actually created a situation where it will take you longer to get your finances in order. You now have to balance both the bank account and take care of the credit card. Instead, make time weekly to calculate your correct bank balances so you aren't creating debt just because you don't know where your finances stand.
(5) Look over everyday purchases for accuracy.
When shopping quickly, not only can you fall into the habit of not using coupons and shopping bargains, you can get lazy about watching your receipts and totals before you pay. Make sure that items ring up the price you expect and if they don't, ask. The same goes for dining out, paying for services, and memberships. Make sure that you aren't being charged for items you didn't order or services you don't need.