You know how to save, but sometimes spending is more fun.
Amee Cantagallo, 37, Palmyra
"It isn't what you save -- it's what you spend. Buy only at the price you want to pay, even if you have to wait for it."
Background: Like a lot of women, I gave up my career when I became a mom, in 2004. But I didn’t want to give up my lifestyle. I have the mind of a businessperson, so I made a spreadsheet and took a hard look at the income my husband, Mathew, brings home. After learning from other moms about how find bargains, I started a blog in April 2009 at madamedeals.com, and during the past few years I have learned to make it profitable, without taking away from what’s most important to me: time with my family.
Key strategies: We deliberately live below our means so we can pay for things we know are coming up in the future. I’d love a stainless-steel fridge and granite counter tops, but it’s more important to me to know that 20 percent of our income goes into savings. I save money toward my kids’ college fund every month. And even though our cars are paid off, we make monthly payments on each of them into a savings account so we’llbe ready to pay cash when it’s time for new ones.
Debt? No way.: Every Wednesday night I go online and pay off my Discover card. I don’t buy things that cost more than I can pay.
Sale shopping: Before I buy anything, I wait until it goes on sale, I look for a coupon and I buy it through incentives. If I end up spending less than I budgeted, I use the remainder to splurge! So if I budget $150 for groceries but spend $100, I might pick up a nice cheese andwine or a dessert to celebrate -- or put $25 into my slush fund and add $25 to my kids’ college fund.
Priorities: To me, time is money. You have only so much of each, so you have to determine how to balance things. I’m willing to drive across town to save $20 but not to save 50 cents.
Splurges: Shoes. I saved for two years for a pair of Frye boots and finally snagged them when I found a good coupon and used my Discover card, which gave me cash back. I generally have one huge “me” purchase every year or so that I put money toward every month, even if it’s just $20.
Current goal: I’m saving for a Rolex watch. I know -- even my husband says I’m crazy. It might take me five years to get it, but I’llfeel good knowing I paid for it without sacrificing anything else!
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