No. of Recommendations: 2
I have found my tribe! I, too, track every red cent that comes in and goes out of my greedy little hands.

In response to TreeBender here are some of the things I have tried to lower my expenses:

Two years ago, I started packing my lunch to work with me. The results have not only been a boon to my budget but I have also lost weight and eat healthier food.

I eat out once a week and feel the expense ($10 - $12) is more than worth it because I eat that meal with my parents at our favorite restaurant (El Ranchito's on Stark in Gresham, Oregon!) I go to my parent's house, pick them up, and take them to the restaurant. Though we see one another throughout the week, this routine is an important part of our relationship.

Lately, I've been trying the store brand variety of the foods I eat. Some I like and have started purchasing; some I don't like and stick with the name brand. A bonus to this practice - I own stock in the grocery store where I shop (Fred Meyer, FMY:NYSE).

I limit my grocery shopping to once a week, planning a week's worth of meals ahead of time and sticking to my grocery list. Saves time and money. This also forces me to eat the food I buy, instead of throwing it out and buying something else.

Water is my beverage of choice, in spite of the fact that I'm a Coca-Cola (KO:NYSE) shareholder. (Don't tell Tony or anyone else on the Coke Board this, please.)

Vending machines, convenience stores, and fast food restaurants rarely, if ever, get a take of my hard earned/saved money.

I do not purchase anything on impulse. I can live happily without most things.

If there is something I really want, I wait at least a week before I buy it. In the mean time I make do with what I have, and most times decide not to buy the new whatever and make do with what I have already.

Each year I budget what I'll donate to charitable organizations. Then I donate no more or no less. One donation goes to my local public radio station, another to the Southern Poverty Law Center, and cash is kept on hand to purchase fund raiser items from the Scouts, Little Leaguers and the like. Oft times I feel charitable organization are marketing to me with as little shame as the tobacco industry. I'm as liberal as they come, but I feel there has to be a limit to my generosity.

I don't have cable television, and limit my television viewing to a select few programs. This isn't so much a money saver, as a time and sanity saver.

I bank at a credit union, not a bank.

The utilities and the mortgage are paid with an automatic withdrawal from my savings account. This way I don't have to use as many postage stamps, and I can keep the money in my savings account (higher interest rate) instead of my checking account (not so hot interest rate.)

My emergency fund is kept in my brokerage account in a money market fund, because it earns a hire interest rate than my credit union's money market account.

I think having a hobby is a money saver in the end. By knowing something you like and by doing that something, it keeps one from spending money aimlessly in search for contentment.

BTW, if you're looking for a hobby, try becoming a hockey fan, preferably a Portland Winterhawks Fan. Thirty-six home games ($7.50 - $12.00 a ticket) and thirty-six away games (free on the radio.) I've already plugged El Ranchito's, the finest Mexican Food this side of the Rio Grande; Fred Meyer; Coca-Cola; public radio; the Southern Poverty Law Center; and credit unions; don't begrudge me a plug for the 1997 -1998 Memorial Cup Champions!

I work to earn money so as to live a life I enjoy. I do my best at my job, but I look elsewhere for reward and satisfaction - in my family, my friends, my dog, my house, my yard, and my hobbies. I'm not all that interested in increasing my earned income, but I am working towards that day when my money works for me, not the other way around.

Basically, I buy what I must, spend sparingly on what I want, save as much as possible of what I earn, and invest Foolishly what I save.

I feel rich in my life - I live in a small cottage-like home that was built in 1930 in a pleasant urban neighborhood - tend a beautiful year round garden - drive and own a Honda Accord that I wash by hand inside and out each week - walk my dog every day to a National Park that just two block from my house - volunteer two and a half hours a week - have a terrific family and a couple of good friends - and don't worry much at all.

Just some thoughts from a fellow Fool on how Living Below Your Means, is really about not spending money trying to find happiness.

Yours in Fooldom,

Casey
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