30 Mar

Spring Cleaning your Spending: Becoming a Smart Spender

Starting to feel the pinch of those ever rising tuition fees? Springtime is the perfect time to clear the cobwebs off your budget and find new ways to fund your child’s college education!

Small changes can make a big difference, so in this springtime trilogy, I’ll be sharing a few easy ways you can trim your spending to free up more cash for college. Today we’re going to look at a few simple ways to save by being a smart spender.

You Don’t Have to “Go Without”

One of the hardest parts of convincing yourself to budget better is fighting the feeling of being deprived. Many parents feel they have to sacrifice the little luxuries they love just to keep their finances in line, but in reality, being a “smart spender” can help you maintain your funds to pay for college without forfeiting the things you enjoy the most.

Let’s assume you would like to try to cut your clothing expenditures, spend less on eating out, or shave what you shell out on movie tickets. You have two options to make this happen: you can either buy less (let’s all pout!), or you can look for ways to make your money go further. Read on for examples!

  • Eating Out. While you can save a lot by simply cooking for yourself, you can also look for ways to save on the retail price of a dine-out meal so you can still treat yourself to the fun of being served a delicious meal you didn’t have to make.
    • Restaurant.com is a website that offers you discounted gift certificates to local restaurants. At their regular price you can get a $25 gift certificate for $10, but you can save even more with online coupon codes–sometimes up to 80% where the same $25 gift certificate will cost you just $2! Just sign up at www.Restaurant.com and you will receive emails periodically when the discounts are being offered.
    • Get it to go (even if its not “fast food”). Most casual dining restaurants (like Chili’s, etc.) offer to-go options, too. Getting it to go not only lets you escape the noisy atmosphere but also helps you choose only what you want–you can’t get talked into coffee or dessert if you’ve already made your escape. And you save the tip too!
    • Entertainment Book is full of 2 for 1 deals on restaurants and other discounts on everything from groceries to movie tickets to travel. There is an Entertainment Book for many cities around the country. All the books are being sold for 50% off right now so you’ll likely make back the cost of the book the very first time you use it! Go to www.EntertainmentBook.com to order.
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  • Clothing. Brand name clothing has a certain appeal–aside from the label, brand name apparel often tends to be higher quality (so it lasts longer).
    • Outlets are a great source for brand name clothing, and larger chains such as the nationwide Tanger outlets often have sales and coupons on top of their low prices. Browse Outletbound.com for a list of outlets in your area, as well as the number of true factory outlet stores in each.
    • Discount retailers like TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Ross offer name brand clothing for a fraction of the price. You may have to spend a little more time searching the racks, but in this case time really is money.
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  • Movies. Whether you want to hit the theaters or rent for the night, there’s always a way to save a dollar or two on a movie.
    • Prepay and get discount tickets through stores like Costco, which offers bulk quantities of tickets for large chains like Cinemark, Regal, and AMC theaters.
    • Go online for your rentals at sites like Netflix.com or Blockbuster.com and rent as many DVDs as you can watch and return for as low as $9.99 per month. Plus, view their “instant watch” movies and TV shows any time online.
    • Redbox has $1 per night rentals for new release DVDs. You can even sign up to be texted a coupon code for a free rental on the first Monday of each month (make sure you mark that you don’t want any other text messages from them, though!)

A little “thinking outside the box” can go a long way in helping you get the splurges in your life for less–all while freeing up more money for college. Stay tuned for more ways to spring clean your spending practices!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

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One Response to “Spring Cleaning your Spending: Becoming a Smart Spender”

  1. 1
    Claudia Says:

    Paying for college is really killing me, money wise. Im going to try your suggestions thank you!

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