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Get a Cheapskate Makeover

12 simple ways to get your cheap on

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En español | Have you ever heard a squeaky-tight little voice in the back of your head saying something like this? "You spend too much money! You really need to cut back."

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That's your Inner Miser. He lives in the part of your brain that realizes that spending more than you can afford and wasting money is ultimately making you miserable. If your Inner Miser's voice is getting louder, maybe you're ready for a cheapskate makeover. Here are some simple ways to get started. Some of the savings may be small — and some not so small — but these savings will add up over time. And every time you painlessly save a penny, it inspires you to save another.

1. Skip the Grocery Cart: Running into the grocery store for just a "few items"? Avoid using a shopping cart or basket. If you have to carry everything you buy, you'll be much less likely to pick up things not on your shopping list. A study by the University of Wisconsin showed that shoppers making a "quick trip" to the grocery store usually bought 54 percent more than they planned.  

2. Drive Without Spilling a Drop: Keep a cup filled to the brim with water in the driver's side cupholder of your car. Make a little game out of trying to drive without letting your cup runneth over. This will help you to slow down and avoid jackrabbit-type starts, resulting in better gas mileage. Over time, more fuel efficient — and safer — driving will become second nature, and you'll be able to skip the cup of water.

3. Pack a "Big Bag" Lunch: You can save a lot of money — almost $1,000 per year, by my calculations — if you bring your lunch to work every day rather than dining out. But if you're like me, many mornings you're just too rushed to pack a lunch. Instead, try carrying an entire bag of groceries to the office with you every Monday. Keep the loaf of bread in your file cabinet and the cold cuts and fruit in the office fridge. You'll find that eating in is the most convenient and economical option.

Next: Take advantage of thrift stores. >>

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