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Stretching your dollars.

My mom always says we are the spoiled Goodwin family, cause some how we always have really nice stuff, yet my husband doesn't make a lot of money.  I'd say I'm just good with money, but I don't want to get an ego or anything.  I really think is a matter of prioritizing your wants. 


The best thing I can say as far as money goes is debt is an evil thing.  My dad always said if you can't afford to pay for it, then you don't really need it.  That came so true with so many things.  Now I have had my fair share of debt, but I always try and pay it off as fast as I can.  Some things are unavoidable, moving is usually our biggest culprit of debt.  We move a lot, so it always adds up.  We are now debt free, and as soon as I finished paying it off the bank raised my credit limit, go figure. 


If you really want something that is really expensive, wait a couple months, if you still want it then buy or save for it.


Invest in a good cookbook that teaches you to cook.  Make your meals from scratch.  You wouldn't believe how cheaper it is, plus it tastes much better.  Convenient foods are great for nights you don't feel like cooking, but not for every meal.  Go ahead and pick a lazy meal, for me its breakfast.  I don't normally cook breakfast because I'm the type of person who has to eat as soon as I wake up.  Also eating out is expensive, it's much cheaper to get throw in the oven pizzas, or even order a pizza just be cautious on how often you do it.


Find cheap ways to have fun.  Going to the park for a picnic is always a favorite of ours.  Last weekend we went to a pumpkin farm, I had packed a picnic, but the pumpkins were much cheaper than I estimated so we treated ourselves to a warm lunch with funnel cake and kettle corn for dessert.  We spent $20 that whole day and have 4 pumpkins now which will create an evening of fun decorating and carving.  Don't be afraid to invest in something that will get a lot of use out of, we just bought a pop up camper and sailboat this summer.  Both of which we can have a weekend of fun for about $50.


Look at your bills, what can you do without.  With your phone bill, do you really need all those options?  I find call waiting and voice mail are really the only two I used.  I canceled the rest and saved about $10/month, not much bet it adds up.  My cable bill is the same way, we save about $10/month for not having "digital cable" that they always push so hard, which just gives us a couple of music channels we don't listen to.


Figure out why you are trying to cut back and save money.  Each time you're tempted to go over your budget think of that.  Which is more important?  You'll realize you don't really need those new cool jeans that are $50.


Go to different stores and find which is cheaper, but has nice quality things.  Wal-Mart is great if you want to buy a brand name thing, but their off brands are kind of cheaply made and break easily.  Sometimes quality is worth the money.  In gardening I go to a nursery clear across town cause all the other ones don't care for their plants as well, and have always died on me.  So paying a little more and driving a half hour seems a lot more worth it when I know the plant will last. 


Don't be ashamed to buy second hand.  If you can't do thrift stores, you may be surprised how nice some consignment shops are.  While consignment shops are a little more expensive they sort through the bad stuff for you.


Sales and clearance are your friend, but be careful.  Just cause its on sale doesn't mean buy it.  But if you've wanted something all season then it's a great way to get a deal.  Seasonal things are great on clearance.  My friend has a great Halloween party every year she fills a trick or treat pumpkin with party favors.  They usually cost $1 each, but she buys them after Halloween, stores them, and she only pays 10 cents each.  Clothes are great for adults on clearance as we don't grow much, but you'll probably waste more money for growing kids trying to guess what size they will be next year.  Make sure you have a place to put what you buy and that you really need it.


This is for all those packrats.  My husband keeps everything, and we move a lot so it's quite the pain for me cause I'm always the one who has to unpack and sort through everything.  Well I finally got him to go through stuff.  His main argument was what if I need it later, he seem to think if he kept a box full of stuff and he used just one thing in the future then it would be worth keeping the whole box.  Finally I told him that his boxes cause us to have to get a bigger place to rent which can cause about $20/month.  After a year you've paid $240/yr to keep them.  I said if you used one thing a year I doubt that it would be worth $240 so its actually cheaper to replace it than to store it.  We now have a deal he can keep anything sentimental, but other than that, its trash unless he uses it.