©Simon Howden - freedigitalphotos

©Simon Howden – freedigitalphotos

America is faced with troubled financial times, possible job loss and even home foreclosure. With all this being said, how do we deal with money issues.  Well if you are like most Americans, you’re trying to get the best deal for your buck.   How do you know when you see a good deal though?  This is a tough question that can drive people absolutely mad in a store.  Are discount stores really saving you money?  If you buy one, should you buy the other at half price?  Do you need ten tubes of toothpaste, if it saves you a dollar?  These all very important questions you should ask yourself before venturing out in the consumer world.

At the end of the month when you actually look at your finances, take all things into consideration.  You have to think about the ratio of what you are spending to what you’re saving.  If you’re cutting back on your cell phone minutes to save five dollars a month, but then spending $7 more a month on long distance, the savings may not add up. Or driving 20 miles out of the way, to visit a discount store for only a few dollars in savings.

You must also think about your family’s needs; if you have a coupon for one dollar off of crackers, that may seem like a good deal, but ask yourself first if you would have bought those crackers, without the coupon.  Coupons can actually have you spending more money on unnecessary items, which you probably would have never bought in the first place.

When you’re feeling like most of your money is being spent on your 401K, Health insurance, or mortgage payments, it is easy to get nervous and start thinking about penny pinching.  Just make sure you weigh the costs.  One common thing that happens to everyone is brain rationalization.  For instance if you buy an item at a discount “savings” store, your brain may think its okay, no matter what that item may be.  How many times have you gone into a big-boxed store and rationalized your purchases, because you were shopping at a discount outlet.  When the matter of fact is, your probably only saving mere pennies and making unnecessary purchases.  If you cart is filled with enough cereal to last you half a lifetime you might want to stop and think about your purchase.

Also think about how much driving you’re doing to get to these big box discount stores.  With gas prices this high, are you really saving much more money than if you would have just gone to the grocery down the street.  I have a good friend who will be at the grocery store and buy most of her food there and then drive all the way across town to pick up a loaf of bread, because it is “cheaper.”

Another financial mistake we all make is to by pass a $10.00 lunch because it’s too expensive, but then go out and buy a new sofa at $2000.  It’s funny how we can trick ourselves out of a lunch, only to rationalize an expensive home furnishing (because it matches the paint).  Some things just don’t make sense and if you truly want to save money, you need to be aware of all your spending habits.

If you are struggling and having finance problems, then its time to make a budget for yourself and follow it.  Be aware of what you are actually spending and crunch the numbers at the end of the month to see if you really are saving.  Remember just because it says “sale” doesn’t mean you have to buy it.

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