Monday, June 16, 2008

Money Game Rules

Obviously as with any game, there are rules that have to be followed otherwise the game doesn't work. The trouble is that unlike a board-game, I don't have a nice instruction book spelling out all the rules, consequences, etc. However, by study, prayer, and probably some mistakes along the way, they are decipherable!

And please note, as I write these, I know they are probably going to be changed, added to, and possibly even laughed at (by me at a later point or those who are much better at these games than I am). However, these are just the rules I'm observing that I need to learn to play as I learn how to more frugally shop. Am I queen and strict adherer of these rules yet? NO! But I'm getting it slowly.

Rules

1. Just like the old cliche "to make money you have to spend money", so it goes with starting to shop more frugally. Now, I'm not necessarily talking about a lot of money, and most people probably won't feel it if they're like me - looking to cut down on how much I spend any given month on groceries/toiletries/cleaning supplies, etc. But it seems a little cost is involved to get going.

For example, coupons - where do they come from? There are free printable coupons online, but not tons. The best places to get variety of coupons (that I'm finding) are newspapers and magazines. Even the websites that have the most number of coupons generally require a processing cost of some sort. Are there free coupons places, oh yes. But to find the greatest types you are going to have to pay for some.

Another cost is that with a lot of the stores that have the best deals to offer, you actually have to shop there first without immediate high-yield rewards. Once is all it takes to start though.

2. Stockpiling is a good thing. In order to not HAVE to buy something at full price, you have to not need it. If you have a stockpile of items and only buy when they are on deep sale, you become the controller of your spending more than the stores. You are not at their mercy.

3. Menus are good. Planning ahead means that I know what I have in my cupboards, what we are cooking next week, what we need, what we can use, what is just an impulse buy that really in the long-run isn't worth the money.

4. You have to know yourself and your family. For example, a couple of weeks ago we bought a spaghetti sauce that was a good deal cheaper than the brand we normally buy. However, Chris had it and, although he ate it, really didn't enjoy it very much (with my current diet, I didn't have the option of weighing in with an opinion). Was it worth the saved $1.00? Not really. Now what will be worth the saved money is if I learn to make my own spaghetti sauce that he likes better than store-bought. If I can do that, for cheaper than buying it in the store, then it's worth the money!

There are certain items that buying one brand over another just because it's a good deal or cheaper isn't going to pay off in the long run. Generic can be good or it can go to waste.

For example, I am a tissue snob. I will only use higher quality, soft, preferably slightly lotioned tissues - in my case I prefer Puffs. Kleenex or other rougher (cheaper) brands of tissues, I despise. Yeah, maybe you save a dollar or so, but is it worth a red, sore, scratched up nose? Not in my books!

5. Impulse buying can destroy good frugal shopping. Even one or two "small", "these won't really cost that much extra" items can ruin a good day's frugality!

All right. That's all I got so far. I'll probably be adding more as I discover them, but at least this is a start.

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