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    Turning Pennies Into Pounds

    Tammy Johnston

    Little things add up. $20 here, $10 there, $5 at another place. Next thing you know you’ve gone through a few hundred dollars and you can’t even remember where they went. The good news is by making small, conscious choices you can put those “yuppie food stamps” (also known as $20 bills) back in your wallet.

    There are some places where we can save money and still get everything we want and sometimes more with a little bit of planning. For one, we all eat on a somewhat regular basis. The biggest mosquito for people living in urban centers is eating out. $5 for a coffee and a bagel in the morning, $8 for lunch at a fast food joint, and $25 grabbing take out on the way home from work and it adds up super fast.

    Having food at home is a way to put thousands of dollars back into your wallet. One of the things I like to do is cook extra when I do go to the effort of making dinner at home so that I have left-overs to make into lunches and TV dinners. I have also found that a crock pot is a wonderful time, money, and waist line saving appliance. I can throw something in first thing in the morning and have a fantastic dinner ready for me at the end of the day. Another discovery I made many, many years ago is that it takes pretty much no extra time or effort to cook an extra dish to throw into the freezer for another time when I’m too busy to cook. Lasagna, casseroles, and great soups are gold in a freezer.

    Grocery shopping is also another wonderful way to save yourself some money and possibly get yourself some nice perks. First off get to know your grocery store well, you are going to be spending a fair bit of time there over your lifetime. Get to know the layout, get to know the prices, and get to know the sales days. I for one am a Safeway shopper. It’s close to my house, I’m a Club Card member, I collect Airmiles, and I know the prices so I know when things are on sale. Like with a lot of the grocery chains they have their discount day, the first Tuesday of every month. You can have 10% off your bill or 10x the base Airmiles. I try to do my big monthly shopping trip on the first Tuesday of the month and take full advantage of 10% off my bill. When you are spending $250 – $300 saving $25 – $30 is a nice chunk of change.

    With the perks of collecting the Airmiles I use them for my entertainment. I go out to movies and get the popcorn and drinks included for a few Airmiles which I can collect in one properly planned shopping trip. I have used my Airmiles for passes to West Edmonton Mall World Waterpark and Galaxyland, for passes to the Royal Tyrell Museum in Drumheller, Gift cards to great restaurants like The Keg and Boston Pizza, and for a variety of other things my family likes to do. I still get what I need, groceries, while saving money, and I also get what I want, free attractions and evenings out.

    So as you can see with a little bit of thought and planning you can have a better life and a fatter wallet. What can you start doing today to get more out of your life and put more back into your financial future?

    “My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income.”
    Errol Flynn

    The MONEY® Network