Jun 04 2008

The ABCs of Sensible Spending


Here’s a guest post from Sarah Scrafford. Sarah Scrafford is an industry critic, as well as a regular contributor on the subject of Small business. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address.

The yawning chasm between the haves and the have-nots is not just because of the disparity in incomes – sometimes, it’s the attitude that one has toward money and spending that makes all the difference to being in or out of debt.

You don’t have to be a mathematician to figure out the numbers that make up your budget – all you need is to be able to list your income and your basic expenditure, set aside an amount for emergencies, do the addition and subtraction and put aside the rest in your savings account where it earns interest. In short, you need to be aware of the ABCs of sensible spending: 

  • Alcohol and tobacco are vices that are detrimental to your bank balance and your health.
  • Budget, budget, budget – and follow it religiously.
  • Cancel your credit cards and use cash whenever possible.
  • Debt is a four-letter word that adds misery to your life – neither a borrower nor a lender be.
  • Eat at home instead of spending at restaurants.
  • Fat is not good – eat healthier and get enough exercise so you don’t spend a fortune on medical bills.
  • Generic brands are as effective as and much cheaper than branded goods.
  • Homemade is best – for gifts, cleaning solutions or clothes.
  • Increase your income.
  • Juggle more than one job.
  • Keeping up with neighbors is an expensive and destructive habit.
  • Lend money to no one.
  • Maintain your assets and appliances in good condition to get the most out of them at the least cost.
  • Non-perishable items are cost-effective when purchased in bulk.
  • Outdo yourself each month: Spend less and save more.
  • Pay more than the minimum balance on your credit card bills, and if possible the entire amount, each month to minimize the interest owed.
  • Question every purchase again and again and buy only if absolutely necessary.
  • Return things that you bought but have not used, or sell stuff that you do not need anymore in garage sales or online.
  • Stop those shopping sprees.
  • Teach your family the power of thrift.
  • Understand your financial limits and accept them – it’s the key to being content with your life.
  • Vacations need not be expensive – even a picnic with the entire family contributes to quality vacation time.
  • Walk to work or car pool to save on gasoline expenditure.
  • Xpect less, xtract more out of what you have, xtend your dollar to the last cent.
  • Yachts and expensive playthings are for the idle rich, not for those on a low income.
  • Zero-interest loans and credit cards are a godsend if you’re on a shoestring budget.

Posted under Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “The ABCs of Sensible Spending”

  1. That’s a really clever list.

    Solomon’s last blog post..Things I’m Grateful For on Tuesday 3 June

  2. C and Z (cancel credit cards/use cash and zero interest credit cards are a Godsend) seem to contradict each other, don’t you think?

  3. Great List!! Letters K and L are especially true…I think that is where many get into trouble!!

  4. Let me preface this with saying that I understand this is a guest post, and not necessarily what this site is all about, but based on the above responses, I feel the need to chime in.

    I can’t agree with all the items on this list. Juggle more than one job? I learned a long time ago that often times working more does NOT equal saving more. If you have to put your kids in daycare, for example, to work more, it’s usually not worth it.

    Some of the items on this list are common sense, but some of them sound judgmental. I agree that excessive consumption of alcohol or tobacco products are unhealthy, but what about enjoying a glass of good wine with an old friend? And yachts are for the idle rich? Of course they’re a luxury that most of us will never afford, but I don’t think owning a yacht gives equals being idle. Lend money to no one? I’m helping my baby brother through college and I’ve never doubted that — even if I never see a cent of that money again — the return on my investment will be enormous. Question every purchase again and again and buy only if absolutely necessary? Personally, I don’t want a sterile home with no art or music in it. I see money as a gift to steward properly.

    Some people treat thrift as a religion and I don’t think that’s any healthier than having poor spending habits. I don’t want to die sitting on a pile of money–even if that means my kids would get a better inheritance. I want to appreciate it as a gift from God, and use it to live simply but comfortably, enjoying some “fine” things in life, and using my money to bless others. I don’t do that perfectly for sure–it can be really hard to find the ballance, but I wish I saw more of a ballance between thrift and hedonism. It seems for so many it’s one or the other.

  5. I too love the list! Most of the things on it are great :)

    amanda’s last blog post..Thankful Thursday- Living Frugal Bringing Peace of Mind

  6. Thanks for your responses, everyone. One of the cool things about guest posts is being able to see others’ perspectives.

    Maria, I think you make a great point when you say “Some people treat thrift as a religion and I don’t think that’s any healthier than having poor spending habits.”

    It’s really easy to be caught up with finding the best deal, being obsessed with saving money, etc. I’ve had a few instances where I’ve said to myself, “whew, I need to back off a bit.”

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife and mother of 3. I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

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