sealPurdue News

September 1998

Cash in on cost-saving tips

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- It's two days to payday, the cupboard is empty and so is your wallet. Sound familiar? Then maybe it's time to put some cost-saving strategies to work in your budget.

Cutting spending doesn't have to be painful, says Janet Bechman, Cooperative Extension Service specialist in family resource management at Purdue University. Before drastically changing spending habits, she suggests consumers record their spending carefully for one or two weeks. People often find that they spend more money on lunch, vending machines and cigarettes than they realize, she notes.

With spending habits in mind, Bechman offers three words that will help reduce expenditures: Simplify, share and substitute.

To simplify spending, consumers need to consider how much a particular item or service is worth to them personally. Questions to ask include:

  • Do I really need this item?
  • Why do I want this?
  • Is there something I want more?

Another method of cost-cutting is to share costs and use community resources. The rule of thumb may be "don't buy what you can borrow." For example, Bechman says that instead of purchasing books, use the library. For inexpensive recreational activities, use public parks instead of purchasing tickets to a theme park. When purchases are necessary, consider splitting the costs with someone else.

Substitution also can be an effective cost-cutting technique. Bechman says consumers can save by choosing less-expensive options or brands.

"Be aware of what's important in your life," Bechman says. She says that if you enjoy something but it is not a necessity, don't give it up if it will make you miserable. For example, cable television is not a necessity, but it may be cheaper than frequent trips to the movie theater.

Impulse purchases can undo even the best belt-tightening measures. To keep spending under control, Bechman suggests planning ahead by making shopping lists. And don't limit them to grocery shopping lists. Comparison shopping also may save money, because some stores honor other stores' advertisements, she says.

CONTACT: Bechman, (765) 494-8309

Compiled by Beth Forbes, (765) 494-9723; e-mail,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; e-mail,

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