How to Spend to Save within Your Budget

The financial distress felt by many families has led to the rediscovery of the “budget” as an essential tool for managing personal finances. People have reflexively slashed their spending and are focused on increasing their savings wherever they can.  By incorporating a deliberate and organized “spend-to-save” strategy in your budgeting process, it’s possible to generate significant savings through your normal spending habits, and expand your budget to include some of those non-essential items you thought you could no longer afford.

The key to a profitable spend-to-save strategy is that you spend money only on those items that you have deemed important to meet your life style needs. Bulk purchasing through warehouse stores is one way to spend-to-save, but many people run into trouble with impulse purchases and overstock issues when they buy more than they can consume within a reasonable time period.  A spend-to-save strategy can help you achieve warehouse- store savings without having to “warehouse” your purchases. The most important element in a spend-to-save strategy is to restrict all shopping to a list. And, if your budget calls for any leisure or recreational expenditures, they should be itemized as well. The easiest way for this strategy to implode is to let your impulses get the best of you.

The Grocery Strategy
We try to avoid the term, “coupon clipping” because it has such bad connotations, and may be considered by some people to be beneath them. The fact of the matter is that a well organized coupon strategy can reduce the average family’s monthly grocery bill by as much as 50%.  The key is to combine coupon clipping with weekly sales promotions. No matter what is on your grocery list, this strategy will ensure that you never pay “retail” again for most grocery items.

In the interest of time, we are going to direct you to a tool that will reduce the amount of time and effort invested. is a website that maintains a database of weekly sales promotions from most major grocery stores. For each store, it lists all of the current sales items, by product category, along with their retail price, sales price, savings as a percent, and an indication if a coupon is available (along with where to find the coupon). It even color codes the items according to its level of savings.

Then, by simply checking the box next to items that are on your shopping list, it will create a customized, printable list of the items that you can attach to your original list. The site is linked to several printable coupon services where you can find most of the coupons you’ll need. is a membership site costing $8 a quarter which will be returned to you with the savings from your first shopping trip.  In many instances, the savings generated from this approach exceed those that you might realize from membership warehouse stores, yet you don’t have to buy huge quantities.

The Retail Shopping Strategy
The same strategy can be employed when shopping for clothes, sporting goods, and life style products for which you have budgeted. Often times it makes sense to take a store up on its offer to take $10 off of a $50 purchase, especially when it can be matched with items that are on sale. If it requires that you buy more items than you need, then try to restrict your purchase to items that you know you will need in the future, or that can be used at some point as a gift.

The Dining Out Strategy
Another website solution that can generate substantial savings is, which offers dining certificates at up to 60% off for the whole meal.  After finding a participating restaurant in your area, you can purchase a certificate valued from $10 to $100 at a cost of $5 to $40. The catch is that you must use the certificate to buy a meal worth $25 to $150. So, for a $150 meal, your total cost is $90 ($40 certificate plus the balance).

While that is a pretty good deal itself, the way to maximize the strategy is to find a coupon code which offers as much as 70% off of the certificate price. Hence, a $100 certificate which must be used to buy a $150 meal can be purchased for as little as $12.  The bottom line is that a $150 meal could cost as little as $62! (not including tax and tip)  These coupon codes are offered regularly and they can be found by Googling  “ coupon”.

These are just two spend-to-save strategies that can generate immediate and sustained savings. There are dozens more that we’ll present in other articles that can generate substantial savings by simply spending money on everyday items you already intend to purchase.

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