When it comes to money, I think of myself as a first class 'recessionista'. And when it comes to smart saving and even smarter spending, I oftentimes think I cornered the market on both. Despite the fact that there remains a litany of articles on the web talking about the darker sides of the recession -- foreclosures and debt and depression --, for me, the recession had an opposite effect. In fact, I can honestly say that without our dreary economy, I wouldn't have taken five vital steps to becoming smarter spender, a better saver and a better time manager.
No. 1: I (Re) Learned the Value of a Dollar
Sure, everyone claims to "know" the value of a dollar, but most people don't truly think about how much a dollar is truly worth. Pre-recession I was guilty of throwing my dollars away without so much as batting an eyelash. However, during the recession, I became a lot more cognizant about where my change was disappearing to, and I wound up saving in the process.
Instead of letting dollars and cents fly out of my purse into a Redbox machine or throwing my hard-earned cash into a vending machine somewhere, I began putting all my loose change in a change jar. Once a month, I cash in my change and earn at least $40 a month -- $40 I was otherwise wasting. I learned that pennies for my thoughts added up to more than a few dollars extremely quickly.
No. 2: I Stopped Browsing
My teenage daughters love to go "browsing". Of course, browsing is typically code for, "Mom, you're going to buy me something and you just don't know it yet." When I stopped "browsing", and relegated my mall jaunts or trips to the store for when we actually needed something, not only did I save a bunch in gas money, but also I saved over $100 a month in mom-is-a-sucker tax.
No. 3: I Looked a Little Harder for Bargains
I love a bargain, and I am not to proud to dig for one. However, today I prefer to dig in the more nontraditional sense of the word. Instead of rummaging through my local clearance rack, I picked up online shopping and found that online clearances are just as good (if not better) than in store specials. And, of course, this method saves me time and gas money too. Overall, I save about $50 a month in gas, and at least three hours of my life when bargain hunting with my virtual mistress (aka, my laptop).
No. 4: I (Re) Evaluated Whether or Not I Needed It
For me, it was easy to justify spending cash on something if I thought "needed" it. In the past I could convince myself I needed something, when I didn't truly need it. When I started reevaluating whether or not I actually needed things by making (and sticking to a list) and planning my expenses, I realized that I needed far fewer things.
No. 5: I Looked for Ways to Monetize my Spending
I am the cash back queen. I earn cash back on my purchases by combining my credit card and debit card cash back rewards programs with E-bates and monetized every area of my spending. I shop for monthly household cleaners, toiletries, make-up, clothes and household products, clothes, shoes and more using this convenient website portal (and I never pay for shipping, either). When I shop this way, as opposed to traditional methods, I earn 2 to 12 cash back on the total purchase for literally everything I buy.
The recession has undoubtedly made me into a smarter spender and has certainly taught me some formidable spending lessons that I plan to continue using as the economy drags itself out of its tailspin.
Instead of griping about what I can't do because of a dismal economy, I prefer to focus on how I can monetize my life, improve my spending and live within my means, while living well. The good news for you is everyone can do the same thing using these five simple methods.
How has the recession made you a better spender?
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