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Plan Well, Retire Well

Saving and investing your money

Step Down Your Expenses & Still Enjoy Life


Gas prices over $4 a gallon, food prices soaring, and just about everyone raising their prices! How can anyone manage? It's easy to get depressed about this and just throw up your hands and declare, "That's it! We can't do X anymore or anyway!" Well, before you give up on everything that makes your life fun, consider "stepping down" your expenses.

Stepping down expenses means changing the way you do something rather than giving it up. For example, rather than skipping a cappucicno with a friend instead "step down" the cappuccino to a cup of coffee with a friend -- you'll save on calories too :)

While skipping cappuccinos and lattes may be the cliché of how to save money these days, the "step down" idea can be applied to lots of other areas. Perhaps some of these ideas might be helpful to you.

  • Don't cancel a date to the movies with family/spouse/friends. Instead, rent a DVD and host a movie party at home.
  • When shopping for groceries step down to the generic and store products. There's a good chance you will like some of them as well as the brand names.
  • Are you thinking about cutting out a family vacation this summer? Instead, step down your plans to somewhere closer (less gas to get there) or a few days shorter or camping rather than hotels.
  • Before the truly hot days of summer hit, step down your energy costs by turning your air conditioner's thermostat up a couple of degrees. Even a little change will make a difference in your energy bill.

More money saving tips are listed on the University of Illinois Extension's Consumer and Family Economics website. I'm sure you'll find several tips that are helpful to you.

To see quickly how small changes can add up, visit the Plan Well, Retire Well website and read the section on Start Saving. The calculators on this website can help you find ways to step down your expenses while still enjoying life.

Share your ideas for stepping down expenses. Click on my name below and send me your ideas. I'll add them to this blog so that our list of ideas can grow!

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A reader from California sends this response:

Go for a walk with a friend instead of going to lunch. Like you said, stop for coffee afterward if you want--its still cheaper (and you get those fewer calories, too) than the whole lunch.

I try to add up my groceries as I go, and when I hit the total I've sort of thought would be the right amount to spend, I stop. Somehow, this makes me buy the things I really need first and I often don't buy those things that will either get binged on or left to rot in the vegetable drawer.

I've always loved the way you approach this kind of budgeting/saving. Most of the time, when you THINK about what you're spending, you spend less.

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More ideas are welcome :)



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