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  • Saving in Tough Economic Times

  • In this sagging economy, consumers need to micro-manage their money and watch every red cent. Here are four little-known tips to help you stay pennywise and effectively manage your dollars during this brutal recession:

    Tip #1: Save without a budget
    Many people find that creating and sticking to a budget is an easy and extremely effective way to manage their money. Unfortunately, this tactic doesn’t work for everyone. For some people, budgeting is not only tedious — it’s also futile. That’s because many consumers simply end up breaking their budget time and again.

    If you have difficulty adhering to a budget, financial experts say you should simply avoid budgeting altogether. Alternatively, as soon as you receive your paycheck, you should deposit a set amount of money into a savings account or another account you can’t easily access. Then, designate the remaining portion of your paycheck to living expenses and other purchases. As long as you don’t have that extra money in your wallet, you’ll spend less each month. You’ll quickly realize it is possible to save and live off fewer dollars, even without a budget.

    Tip #2: Know when not to shop
    If you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely or tired as you stroll up to the door of a store, HALT! Why? Because if you’re in any of these four states, you should avoid shopping like the plague.

    The acronym HALT (Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired) is commonly used in substance abuse programs. Addicts are taught to be extremely cautious when they are feeling any of these four emotions because they are more likely to relapse. The same rule applies for every day consumers. If you are hungry, angry, lonely or tired, you are more likely to overspend in the store. Instead of going on a shopping spree, try to deal directly with whatever is causing you to feel this way.

    Tip #3: Put an end to buyer’s remorse
    Have you ever bought an expensive piece of exercise equipment you used only once before stashing it in the basement? What about that fancy food processor that’s still in the box collecting dust? We’re all guilty of it. At some time or another, we’ve all convinced ourselves in a weak moment that we absolutely had to have an item — only to suffer from severe buyer’s remorse later.

    Instead of agonizing over your silly, spontaneous purchases, financial experts say you should try to learn from your mistakes. Sit down with your family and do an “audit” of all the harebrained purchases you’ve made during the past year. Dig out your receipts, bank statements and credit card bills and point out all the things you bought that you wish you hadn’t. You might start to notice some patterns — such as every time you visit a certain online store, you end up buying some high-tech gizmo you don’t need. This process can help you and you avoid poor purchase choices in the future and put an end buyer’s remorse once and for all.

    Tip #4: Take a spending break
    When was the last time you went an entire day without spending a dime? If you can’t recall, it might be time for a fiscal fast. Experts say it’s financially healthy to take a few days off from spending money every so often.

    Although it might be difficult to keep your wallet on lock-down for two or three days, it could be well worth the effort. Not only will you save a bundle, but you might start to realize just how much money you spend on things you simply don’t need. For example, you might discover the water from the water fountain at the office is just as refreshing as that expensive bottled water you usually buy from the vending machine. Plus, you’ll find more creative ways to have fun that don’t involve spending money — like playing catch with your kids or star-gazing with your spouse.

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