Splurge substitutes

Recession. Recession. Recession. It seems that everywhere I look, that’s all I see, hear, read. Everyone wants to save money and cut back on expenses. My husband and I had a major summit a few weeks ago and decided a good way for us to control spending is to look at our expenses and assign each item to the “luxury” or “necessity” category. Luxury items don’t happen and necessity items stay in the budget, although we’ll still try and find a way to cut the “necessity” costs.

The tricky part is in the translation of “luxury” between my husband and me. A necessity to me can often be a luxury to him and vice versa. My face cream? Necessity to me, luxury according to him. Pizza from his favorite pizza place instead of making dinner at home from the pantry? Necessity to him, luxury to me. All part of the process and we are finding our way.

Her are some ways I am going to enjoy my “luxuries” but keep the cost down:

Do my pedicures at home. With a bathtub to soak my feet, some lotion and plastic bags for moisturizing, and some good polish, I should be all set. It would even be fun to do this with my daughters or a friend or two for a real “spa” experience.

Skip going out for dinner with friends and have them over for dinner. With a little planning and having friends bring a dessert or side, this is actually more fun than going out to a restaurant and very inexpensive.

Hit the cheap movie theater. First run movie tickets are $8.00 and up. For a family of five, that adds up to over $40 pre-popcorn and candy. Most cities, like mine, have a movie theater that shows pre-released movies and tickets are cheap. Tickets are usually $4 and some days even cheaper. I sneak my own popcorn in (don’t tell anyone) and get to see a film on the big screen that we don’t want to wait to catch on dvd.

Embrace the library. I am a book junkie and can easily go into a bookstore and drop $30 – $40 in no time flat. Enter the library. I get a warm feeling just walking in the front door of my neighborhood library. It’s quiet, people are busy reading, using the free computers, kids are occupied in the kids area. I am going to start borrowing books rather than spending so much money on new books.

Cut down on magazine subscriptions. In addition to books, I have a thing for magazines. If I buy one a few times at the supermarket, I end up getting a home subscription because it’s so much cheaper. However, this adds up so I am going to take a look at all of our subscriptions, assess what gets read and what doesn’t, and cancel the ones that pile up in the magazine rack. Another good idea is to pass on magazines to friends and family after I have read them. My mother-in-law kindly gives me 2 or 3 of her monthly magazines after she reads them rather than sticking them in her magazine rack. Most magazines have large portions available online as well.

How are you trying to save money in light of the current state of the economy? 

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Rachael Ray