How to Jump Start Your Budget on a Shoestring

Plano Market Square Discount Shopping Mall, Plano, TX |  Daniel J. Gansle
Plano Market Square Discount Shopping Mall, Plano, TX | Daniel J. Gansle

Budgeting Wisely Key to Personal Finance and Saving Money

When the budget starts getting tight, you must consider easy and effective ways to save money. Here’s how to get a grip on personal finance and money management.

Shop Smart

Many people falsely believe they have to give up on shopping. The good news is that there are some amazing deals to be had – all one must do is know where to look. For example, rather than heading out to the shopping mall for clothes and accessories, try a discount outlet mall which features factory outlet stores that carry the same labels for substantial discounts. Also try shopping at discount stores including T.J. Maxx, Marshall's, Tuesday Morning, and Ross.

Try shopping at thrift shops, consignment stores, and antique stores. Shop at the local Goodwill or Salvation Army store where you can find amazing deals on furniture, clothing, and household goods and support a good cause at the same time. Find coupons online, some of which offer cash back for purchases. Lastly, don’t overlook the dollar store – for simple items such as basic dinnerware, batteries, and gift wrap, the dollar store saves lots of money.

Cook at Home

In the days of yesteryear, Grandma slaved over a pot roast and vegetable dinner every Sunday evening for the family. Today’s world is far more fast-paced and complex, which is why you see so many cookbooks and magazine articles devoted to home-cooked meals in less than one-half hour. Visit your local bookstore, search the web for easy recipes, and subscribe to magazines such as Better Homes and Gardens and Family Circle.

At the same time, you don’t have to completely give up on eating out – it’s fun and healthy to get out every once in a while. Visit and for some amazing local deals and discounts. Check the Sunday newspaper for coupons, and consider purchasing an Entertainment® Book.

Find Grocery Deals and Discounts

Visit the customer service desk and get on grocery store mailing lists. Look for 10 for $10, buy one get one free, and other special deals. Some grocery store websites now offer online weekly ads and even e-coupons directly downloadable to your member card to redeem at checkout (AOL Shortcuts provides this service as well). Try the less expensive store brand of certain products such as canned veggies, bread, milk, rice, and cereal – often you can’t even tell the difference.

Watch Free Movies Without Cable or Satellite

Rather than buying or renting DVDs, visit your local public library. Your library has numerous DVDs you can check out with your library card, absolutely free. You can also request titles online and have them sent to your library. Don't see a newer title? Suggest the movie to the librarian at the Reference desk.

However, this doesn’t mean you have to give up on going to the movies. See an early-evening matinee when movie ticket prices are lower. Dollar theaters are also a great option – they may not run the latest and greatest movies, but the price is right and they often have special 50-cent family nights.

Personal Finance and Budgeting the Easy Way

Saving money doesn’t have to be difficult or even that time consuming. By making tiny changes in shopping habits, learning how to cook at home, finding money saving grocery deals and discounts, and lowering the cost of movies and entertainment, you can jump start your budget on a shoestring quickly and easily.

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