Budgeting your activities

These days the economy is all over the place.  It’s up one week, down the next. And if we’re lucky, it remains steady for a couple of months, but that doesn’t mean our conscience is.  Our reliability on the market fluctuates just as much as the numbers do, and because of that, many of us are rethinking how we’re choosing to spend our dollars and cents.
We’re making adjustments and we’re cutting our losses before they become just that, financial woes.  Maybe you pass on one offer in hopes that a better one comes along; or you wait to take that European vacation next summer because it just doesn’t appear to be in the cards this time.  Essentially, we’re left making sacrifices. 
So, how do you choose what activity is more deserving than the other?
It’s all about the little things.  An article recently published in the Journal Sentinel, called “Five money-saving tips for boomers and seniors,” focused on the best ways to cut back on spending without sacrificing the quality of life. 
“Examine recurring expenses.” Sometimes we don’t realize how much we’re spending on our utilities until the bill comes in.  Re-examine what you use on a daily basis and what you can do without.  Maybe you’re paying for more channels on your satellite dish than you watch.
“Increase energy efficiency.”  Another way to decrease your costs (and become a little ‘greener’) is to ensure that the appliances you aren’t using are unplugged or are turned off when you’re out of the room. 
“Be a smart shopper.”  Be selective in what you purchase, when you purchase.  Compare prices on larger items.  If you use a product more frequently, buy it in bulk (this not only saves you money on the product, but time and money in transportation as well).
“Take advantage of free entertainment.”  It’s hard to imagine there is anything such as “free.”  But grab your local paper and check out the events calendar.  See what is happening in your downtown area and what your city has to offer.  “Libraries are also an excellent source of free entertainment – you can try out new authors, artists and genres with no risk by borrowing books, audiobooks, DVDs and CDs instead of purchasing them.”
“Reassess your gift-giving habits.”  Don’t overspend on an item if you don’t have to.  Sometimes, last-minute gifts have us running around trying to find the best thing out there, which in turn causes us to spend more than we needed to.  Consider the person you are shopping for and what they enjoy doing, you may be better off giving them the gift of a shared experience; such as going to the zoo, or the latest concert.   
These five tips aren’t large sacrifices.  They are reasonable, long-term solutions to a more financially stable future. By reassessing your spending habits, you can make small changes to allow for bigger experiences. It’s all in how you choose to look at your situation and take control of the little things in life.  
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