Spending More Wisely

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

This year our library fundraiser earned less money than in previous years. The reason seemed obvious. Yet, the chair of the event mentioned that in comparison to other local events, we still did quite well. Her comment was, "People are just being more careful with how they spend their money." Are they?

It wasn't that people in the community didn't want to help with the fundraiser, and it wasn't that they weren't interested in buying books and periodicals. Maybe it was because they were using their money wiser. We had several cash donations rather than purchases; people would rather see their money put directly into the organization than to purchase something and see only a portion of it put to good use. Many wrote down titles of good books and then left without a purchase.

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Are we using our money wiser? Could we still work to be even wiser with our money?

Borrow Instead Of Buy

Now is the time in our economic life when we need to borrow instead of buy. Rather than rushing to buy the newest movie or best seller, we need to borrow from community resources such as our libraries. In 2009, Netflix reached 10 million members. Borrowing is certainly a popular practice.

In a time when government funding for public libraries is being cut at phenomenal rates, the communities need them even more. Libraries offer books, periodicals, movies, internet connections, research databases, and newspapers for free. They also host classes that help with tax preparation or teach painting. They're great resources for the communities that they serve.

When it comes time for a party, think about borrowing here as well. Why buy folding tables and chairs when you can borrow them from others. Pick up the phone and start calling friends. Then, plan around the inventory that you've created with the phone calls. Children's parties can be expensive if parents look to buy every activity and decoration. Borrow games, decorations, videos, and CDs to create the desired theme for the party.

Look Before We Leap

More than ever before Americans are comparison shopping, and the stores know it. Price matching deals and markdowns are all the rage with competitive retail stores. Take advantage of it. Do some serious shopping ahead of time. If possible, ask the sales clerk for additional, reasonable discounts. Know the competitor's price and use it to get the best price or package.

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Likewise, this is the time that quality counts. Read customer referrals before buying. Keep in mind that some disgruntled customers will post negative reviews; look at the overall picture. Do another shopper a favor and jump online to write a review of a product you purchased. Just because you bought it at Target doesn't mean you can't post a review on Amazon as long as it's the same product.

Do It Yourself

Not only will you feel that you saved money doing things for yourself but you'll feel more accomplished. Try visiting those classes at the library to learn a new skill and put it to use in your home. Home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowes offer Saturday classes and project workshops. Whether you're painting a room or packing your lunch, do it yourself and save a bundle.

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