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The First Three Steps To Saving

First, get out of debt.
Pay off credit cards. Pay off cars. Pay off anything that isn't tax deductible. If you're leasing a car and you can't write it off as a business expense, you're pouring money down a black hole. Consolidate debt if you must, but get out of debt as soon as possible. If you need help,
 "Deal With Your Debt" is a great resource book, or you can use Zilchworks, an excellent software program at a very affordable price to help you get out of debt.

Second, change your money mind set.
Before you can start to save money, you need to change the way you think about it. Most people think that money can buy them happiness in the form of plasma TV's, fancy cars, honker houses, etc. Sure, we want  these things, but we don't need  them. This is what gets most folks into trouble and is almost always the reason that makes saving difficult.

The next time you go shopping, even if it's only to the grocery store, ask yourself two questions:

Do I want it?
Do I need it?

If you're looking at a gallon of milk and there's no milk in the house, it's almost certain that you need it. If, however, you're looking at another jar of jelly when you already have three half-used jars in the fridge, you might want it, but you certainly don't need it.

Always ask youself these two questions before buying anything. Answer them honestly, and you will be well on your way to saving money.

Third, pay cash for everything (well almost everything).
This will probably be the hardest thing you ever do (except lose weight), but it's the best way to break the spending habit and start to save money.

Most people have forgotten what money, real money, feels like. We use plastic for everything. Debit cards have replaced cash. We have been de-sensitized to the value of money. Only by regaining a feel for money can you begin to appreciate its value.

In order to use cash for your purchases, it's best to create a budget for those things you would normally charge or debit -- groceries, gas, and miscellaneous purchases (like a Starbuck's latte). Go through one month's worth of these purchases and determine what you spend on these items. Convert the amounts into cash and keep the cash for groceries, the cash for gas and the cash for miscellaneous separate. You can't rob from Peter to pay Paul. When the grocery money runs out, you can't buy any more groceries. Likewise with gas and miscellaneous.

As you watch the actual dollars disappear faster than you ever thought possible, you will begin to realize how you have been allowing money to disapear down that spending drain. Only then will you begin to discover ways to save money (faster than you ever thought possible). In fact, saving might become an obsession as you see the actual dollars accumulate.

By Candee Wilson
The Saving Lady



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