Saving money on every day items can be difficult. While some tackle this problem by budgeting for everything, an alternative option is to have a mental "frugal filter" that you run all purchases through.
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As finance blog Wise Bread suggests, this tactic can allow you to know fairly quickly whether or not you should spend money on a particular item. Does it pass your criteria? If so, go for it! If not, hold off for a while. Wise Bread shares some possible criteria, but you can adjust as necessary for your own needs:
For me, the Frugal Filter process sounds something like this:
- Do I really need it?
- Do I already have something that might suffice?
- If I really do need it, is there a way to get it cheaply (thrift store, yard sale) or even for free (Freecycle, borrowing from a friend)?
- If it's not available the cheap/free way, how else can I bring the price down?
If you're not the kind to budget for every purchase you make (and, realistically, even with a zero sum budget, it's hard to account for everything), the frugal filter is an excellent backup measure.