If you’ve been following our bank blog for long you might have noted that we have articles dating back as far as June 2007. And since 2008, many of these articles have been written by one person… me! And I am publicly known as “cnbamanda” on our site. After 12 years of writing blogs about saving, investing, spending, using bank products, building credit, etc. you get understandably burnt out trying to dream up new blog topics. So, I’m inviting you to join me in 2021 as we revisit a few of my earlier articles. I’ll still be writing new content, but I’ll also be updating old content, changing my mind about advice I gave once-upon-a-time, and hopefully providing you a little insight to how some of that advice has influenced my life now that I’ve aged 12 years and am coming at you from a different life stage, a ’la mid-thirties.

Let’s look back at this gem from July of 2008.

I was new to the banking industry, almost graduated from college, and, now that I’m re-reading something I wrote long ago, mildly embarrassed about my “first-world” problems. The economy is once again a little bit uncertain and we’ve had one heck of a last year, which doesn’t seem to be letting up anytime soon.

I’m also embarrassed to say I still sometimes struggle with shopping! Though it is in new ways now that Amazon is here and 2020 has somewhat prohibited brick-and-mortar shopping. The good news is that some of the habits mentioned in the above article actually stuck and influenced me in positive ways over the years. Budgeting, for instance, is even easier now that we’ve got our own Personal Financial Management tool, similar to the one I mention in the previous article. The best part is that MoneyCentral is free to our customers, whereas the previously mentioned tool now costs a fee to use. To learn more about MoneyCentral visit our website at https://centralnational.com/whycentral/moneycentral.asp

The other thing that has changed in the last 12 years is my reliance upon shopping to create joy. My house has also started to fill up with the bargain finds I’ve scored over the years and I’ve turned things around and started to donate some of those same items back to places like the Disabled American Veterans program in our local community, which is more commonly known as the DAV. I’ve also continued to refine my personal style and continue to donate clothing and personal items in excellent condition whether I purchased them new or second-hand myself!

If you’re at a stage in life where you’re struggling with spending versus saving, or saving without sacrificing, here’s my top five tips that have stuck with me over the years:

Minimize Food Waste

When you go to a restaurant and order food consider whether or not it’s a meal that you’ll eat entirely, or if you could stretch it into two meals. If you can stretch it into two meals don’t just take it home and let it mold in the fridge. Actually eat it! And that goes for leftovers and the fresh fruits and vegetables you buy as well. Don’t fill the fridge up so full that things are molding in the back of it before you can eat them.

Drink Tap Water, or Water. Period.

As long as you live in an area where the tap water is safe to drink consider giving up the bottled drinks. You’ll save money and be healthier. And if your water is safe to drink but just tastes bad, consider keeping a pitcher of water in the fridge that has slices of lemons, limes, or other fruits in it. Bottled water is more expensive and you can eliminate plastic bottle waste that’s becoming an increasing problem over time.

Save Your Change

The year 2020 brought about many changes, but one of the most common changes experienced by all is our reliance upon cash as a payment system. There’s definitely still people using it, but card transactions are on the rise, which means you have fewer opportunities to stick your pocket change in a jar at home for a rainy day. Consider signing up for It Makes Cents!, our transaction rounding program. As long as you’re not constantly debiting the change from that account to cover expenses you stand to save quite a sum in a year’s time with the 5% match. Learn more about the program and the match on our website at https://centralnational.com/personal/itmakescents.asp

Skip the Subscription

Subscription services are everywhere these days. And I’ll admit to have signed up for a few here and there. Meal kits are handy time-savers, but if you’re not careful about your budgeting you stand to lose more than you save. If you’re hooked on meal kit subscriptions consider replacing your dinners out with the subscription meals to save on dining expenses.

Meal kits aren’t the only subscription service that can cost you a bundle. Subscriptions to dog toys/food, beauty products, razors, household products and more can also cost you more than you’ll save if not managed correctly. Be sure to only order what you’ll use and avoid filling up the spare bedroom with surplus products.

Consider cutting back on your television and streaming services as well. There are free resources for entertainment if you look hard enough. Consider the local library before you purchase a book, magazine or movie to own.

Pay Your Credit Card on Time and in Full Each Month

Did you know that carrying even a small balance on your credit card can have a long-term impact on your finances? Every penny you lose in interest charges and late fees is money you’re not saving. And carrying a balance on your cards eats into your credit score too. I always pay my card off each month, but I noted recently that because I was letting the statement post with a balance that it was dropping my credit score due to frequent usage. By paying off the card a few days before the statement cycle ends I was able to increase my credit score by 25 points. When the statement cycled it showed zero in the balance and I got an email noting that my credit score increased. Neat trick!

I know I’m not a wise and worldly millionaire destined to retire early, but it’s nice to know that I’m taking small steps toward financial wellness and improving my financial knowledge with every birthday I celebrate. The good news is that you can do it too, all it takes is a little will-power and some determination to stick to a budget. Plus, keep learning and researching ways to improve your saving skills. And just because you were in a certain spot ten years ago does not mean you’re stuck there.

Confession Time! Again…
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