A Penny Saved?

There is no doubt that the state of the current economy is affecting us all in one way or another. Personally, I’m not worried about my finances so much as my parents’, who are currently financing my education here at USF. It is this concern which has prompted me to conserve money in almost any way I can. I say “almost” because there are a few things that I refuse to go without – toothpaste for instance. However, I remain determined to control myself for my family’s sake.
Over the course of the semester, I have made various attempts at conserving money using different tactics of varying degrees of strictness.

At first, my strategy was to alter my consumer habits in a few small ways and hope that combined, they would translate into some big-time savings. “Just buy what you need, and then stop,” I told myself, “Don’t worry about it too much.” Little did I know that I would become very good at stretching the definition of the word “need.”

“Need” started out as the basics: shampoo, ink, paper, and textbooks, but soon went through a growth spurt and became Goldfish!, Soy Milk!, Lean Cuisine!, and, the biggest menace of all, Ben & Jerry’s.

When I finally clued in that my plan was not working all that well, I turned to more drastic measures: scare tactics. In an attempt to traumatize myself into spending less, I amassed all the receipts I hadn’t bothered to throw away over the months and organized them by month. Then, I highlighted every total and the date I spent it, and added up my monthly spending.

It worked.

When I looked at the totals side by side, I was horrified. I immediately made myself a sign in bright bold letters that said, “Absolutely NO more spending!!!!” with the amount I had already spent that month occupying a prominent spot on the piece of paper. I taped this sign to the back side of my room’s door, and there it has remained ever since. The constant reminder it provides comes in handy when I am considering going out to eat despite the fact that I have quite a bit of extra flexi. Other cutbacks that accompanied my shock therapy included refraining from buying food from Lucky’s, holding out until Christmas break to get my long-awaited haircut, reserving Starbucks for special occasions, and, though I know I shouldn’t, watching movies online instead of at the theater.

All this was going pretty well until Black Friday hit, and a wave of shopping fever came crashing down upon my friends and I, who were lured from the bubble of campus by bait reading: SALE! 50% OFF! A full outfit later, and I was looking once more at a much-depleted bank account. Since my first attempt at saving, however I have learned that paying attention to your money is everything. I have found that the more I track what I spend, the more willing I am to be reasonable with myself. It pays to know yourself and your weaknesses.

So the next time you go out shopping and are tempted to buy something, ask yourself, “Do I absolutely need it?” or “Do I absolutely love it?” If any reason not to buy the object in question can be found, put it down. Your wallet (and your parents should you be so lucky) will thank you later.

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