Stretch Your Dollar When Spending Money
Being budget conscious doesn’t mean you can’t spend any money, it just means you have to be deliberate about what you’re spending your money on. Whether it’s clothes shopping, getting groceries, or buying necessities, there are ways to buy what you need (or want) without going overboard. Responsible financial planning is all about exercising discipline in spending and staying within your personal budget. By purchasing quality items, grocery shopping with a plan, and knowing the difference between needs and wants, you can stretch your dollar from a payment into an investment.
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Purchasing Quality Items
Frugal shopping is smart shopping. You don’t have to sacrifice a splurge here and there as long as you make an effort to splurge on quality items. Depending on the parameters you’ve set within your personal budget, both your wants and needs can go further by purchasing quality items that are durable, have high nutritional value, or have high resale value. Brand names or popular retailers don’t always mean higher quality. However, even if you’re spending more money in order to buy a higher quality item, you’re saving money in the long run. By purchasing cheaper alternatives, you’re basically putting the extra payments off until a later date which can be equal or more expensive than the more durable alternative.
It makes sense that buying a nice, durable car would be the smarter financial choice. A higher quality car doesn’t need as much upkeep, tends to require less expensive repairs, and will last you a lot longer than most cars you can purchase that are lower quality. By mirroring this premise to other purchases, you can save yourself money by purchasing other quality items that will last you longer and save you money.
Educated Grocery Shopping
There are a few tips to take with you while you’re grocery shopping in order to stretch your dollar. Walking through the aisles without a plan can easily lead to overspending, so the first tip is to attack the grocery store with a strategy in mind. Write a list before you go and stick to it as close as you can. Experiment with cheaper options instead of name brand food items. Plan your meals and you’ll know exactly what to buy and how much to buy. Perishable products tend to be the freshest and what’s healthiest for you, but they are also more expensive and expire quickly. To avoid that, keep buying it, but make plans for it so you don’t overbuy.
Other money saving grocery tips are:
- Buy items in bulk
- Eat what’s in season
- Buy more filling foods
- Cut coupons
- Buy sale items when they are available
Needs vs. Wants
Identifying what you need and what you want can be more difficult than it sounds and can be detrimental in your attitude about spending – and about your finances in general if you prioritize one over the other. For some, needs are a gym membership or organic groceries, and for others those are wants. There are arguments for both, but it comes down to your personal budget as well as your priorities. If your budget allows it, there’s no reason you can’t indulge in some things you want. In fact, some of those wants are important for happiness and mental health. There are many bad financial habits, and one of them is spending too much on wants. As long as you can identify that, you’re on the right track towards spending responsibly.
Having a healthy understanding of needs and wants will help you stretch your dollar by spending more on what you need and less on what you want. Prioritizing your bills, utilities, paying down your debts, and saving money before spending money on things you want is a necessity when spending money wisely.
Other ways of Investing
Stretching your money is all about investing your money in your purchases. For example, spending money on a durable winter coat is investing in yourself by feeling warm and not having to buy another coat for a few years. Spending money on quality tools is investing in yourself by being able to complete your own automotive repairs. By having an investment mindset, you’ll be able to better understand stretching your dollar in other ways like using your credit card to help build your credit, or going back to school to receive your Master’s degree. Making your dollar work for you and stretching it as far as you can doesn’t just mean buying quality products, planning your purchases, or not buying too many wants, it’s also about spending money to invest in yourself and your ability to make more money in the future. You can learn more about your credit score at our credit score resource and learning center.
Stretching your dollar isn’t about being cheap, it’s about spending your money in intelligent ways. In some cases, that may actually mean paying a little more upfront, for something that will last longer. Frugality is about viewing your money as a tool and using it in ways that will benefit you further than it’s meant to. Purchasing durable items, grocery shopping with a plan, buying more needs than wants, and using your money to invest back into you are all ways to stretch your dollar while spending it.
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Chelsy is a writer from Montana who now lives in Boise, Idaho. She graduated with her journalism degree from the University of Montana in 2012. She enjoys talk radio, cold coffee, and playing Frisbee with her dog, Titan. Follow Chelsy on Twitter @Chelsy5
This post was updated February 28, 2019. It was originally published April 13, 2017.