Penny-Wise or Penny-Pincher?

Which of those terms describes you? Does your family look to see if you're anywhere around as they stoop to pick up a penny from off the floor? Or, do they embrace your ideas for finding avenues of frugality? When it comes to saving money, there's a fine line between being penny-wise and penny-pinching. Let's face it, without a smattering of wisdom, money matters can overwhelm and take control of us. And, counting every single red cent is generally not the way that most of people envision living our lives. Unfortunately, for the overzealous tightwad who takes the notion of "responsible spending" to the extreme, counting each coin is exactly what seems to happen.

Back in the day, the term "thrifty" pertained only to older folks who shopped at the five-and-dime for their clothes or visited flea markets and yard sales. Nowadays, however, it's quite acceptable to shop for the least expensive clothing (unless you're in high school, where it will probably never be the "in" thing to do), and perfectly fine to shop at thrift- and consignment shops in search of great bargains. Regardless of what's currently in vogue, being thrifty can save your family money. Furthermore, learning to save is a valuable lesson for the younger members of any household. A family environment is the best place to instill the concept of financial responsibly, and there are many ways to do so.

Do you often notice loose change around the house? Pick it up and put it into a jar. Going another step, each family member can have their own jar. You might be surprised at how quickly loose change can add up. Empty your pockets every evening and deposit the money in your jar. If you fill one up, start another. After a while, you could easily net a few hundred dollars by taking your savings to one of those handy change counters at the local grocery store.

Saving money doesn't have to be a difficult, complex or depressing thing to undertake. Your kids don't have to wear hand-me-downs and you don't have to give up every enjoyable hobby and pastime that you've ever had. As long as you observe the basics, there's really no need to turn into a miser about money. Start by changing one small thing at a time. For instance, cook dinner each night instead of going out. Save those restaurant visits for special occasions or as a reward for spending responsibly all month long. Just be sure to account for that meal in your budget.

If the truth be told, you should resist the urge to continually think about money, because when you constantly entertain the idea of frugality and budgeting you typically contract what's called 'penny-pinching fever.' It begins in your brain and quickly spreads to every part of your body. Before you know it, you'll start seeing a dollar around every corner waiting to be squeezed and stretched to its very last fiber. Your family will end up being afraid to ask for anything because they'll get 'the speech' or your familiar scowl, and there's much more to life than that.

Don't allow money to take and hold you prisoner. It's okay to spend it; following a budget will simply teach you to spend it wisely. You can live comfortably while saving for the future.


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