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Linda GeistWriterUniversity of Missouri ExtensionPhone: 573-406-4933Email: GeistLi@missouri.edu
Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013
Wendy Brumbaugh, 573-633-2640
SHELBYVILLE, Mo. – Santa’s back at the North Pole and left you with a bag of bills from holiday spending. Maybe it’s time to make being frugal your top New Year’s resolution.
The first step is a change of mindset, says Wendy Brumbaugh, University of Missouri Extension family financial education specialist.
Frugality doesn’t mean that you are deprived, Brumbaugh says. It means that you take control and learn to prioritize spending.
For 2014, Brumbaugh suggests asking yourself “What if I buy this?” What other things or experiences do you give up in return? When we spend money on one item, we are sacrificing something else, and needs may go unmet, she says.
Understand your spending habits, she adds. Avoid shopping. Go to the mall or discount store for specific items only. Don’t sign up for savings alerts that are automatically sent to your email or phone to lure you to the store. When tempted, pick up a book or call a friend and chat.
Spend less by taking care of what you have. In books such as “The Millionaire Next Door,” you’ll find research that shows that millionaires have a number of habits in common. One of them is taking care of what they have. Brumbaugh says it’s the advice your grandmother probably gave you: “Make do with what you have.”
When stores urge you to “save,” they really are urging you to “spend.” You cannot save by spending, Brumbaugh says. She equates this to people who do extreme couponing to save on groceries and other products. You spend money to save on items that you may not ever need.
The first of the year is a good time to review recurring expenses such as Internet, cellphone service, satellite and cable television, and insurance. Compare costs from other providers and review insurance deductibles.
Track your spending. You’ll be surprised at how much you spend each month on items such as that coffee and doughnut at the convenience store as you head to work. Cutting back doesn’t mean giving up your morning cup of joe entirely, Brumbaugh says, but maybe doing it only three times a week instead of five or using the money to buy a coffeepot for home.
It’s important you don’t deny yourself things or experiences completely, Brumbaugh said. Following a budget is similar to dieting. If you make the plan too strict, you’re doomed to failure.
Finally, save this year. Put away small amounts of money each paycheck through automatic withdrawal. This will provide you with a comfortable emergency fund by the end of the year. The financial peace of mind an emergency fund brings will liberate you in 2014 and let you set bigger goals for 2015.
For more information from MU Extension on personal and family finance, go to www.missourifamilies.org/money/.
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