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o, I’m trying out this new thing called a “budget.” I don’t know if y’all know about budgets or not, but it’s kind of like being on a diet — and we all know how well diets go when you deprive yourself of what you love.

Me? I love living a comfortable life and splurging every now and then. But there comes a time and place when I have to say, ‘Shari, you’re (grumble, mumble) years old now. It’s time to grow up and start saving for retirement.’

Retirement? What? It seems so far away but in reality, the sooner I start saving, the more I’ll have. Well, at least that’s the plan.

Part of saving money has a lot to do with me following my budget. Now, I never really had a budget before. The money came in, I spent it, and prayed it would last until next pay period. That method is not the way to go … just FYI.

I honestly don’t know how I’ve made it this far by following that method, but I do know that is why I’m in the pickle I am in now; hence, the budget.

Like any diet fad, I’ve tried most of the trends; couponing, putting cash in envelopes, freezing the credit cards … you name it. For me, it just doesn’t work.

Have you guys heard of Pinterest? Man, this website is full of awesome ideas, everything from beauty tips, to craft ideas, to organization tools, to … well, you name it, you can find it on there. If you haven’t started “pinning,” I suggest you start (though it can get quite addicting and I might have to go into rehab soon).

Anyway, I started looking up budgeting tips on Pinterest and low and behold, I found all sorts of links to some pretty smart and thrifty women. Just like fad diets don’t work, trends in budgeting don’t work. It really has to be a lifestyle.  I can still live the life I love, but bring it down a tad and look for alternate ways to save — it just takes some effort.

For instance, I spend so much money on cleaning supplies. That stuff is just plain expensive! Well guess what? I can make my own detergent, window cleaner, and all-purpose cleaner thanks to Pinterest. I can also make my own furniture, home décor, and crafts made out of left over pallets I find behind grocery stores. I can print color pages, educational worksheets, and figure out fun activities for my son thanks to this awesome website. I can also figure out recipes with what is left over in the fridge and pantry when that week’s groceries get low. Not to mention a bunch of links to moms (and wives) who dedicate blogs that have millions of tips on how they stay on budget.

For the first time ever, the other day I grocery shopped with a calculator. It really does add up when you’re deciding what you need in the pantry versus what you want in the pantry … i.e. Oreos.

If you’re more the traditional kind of person, who needs a class on budgeting, Fort Bragg’s Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation offers multiple finances classes through their Financial Readiness Program. You can learn budget and debt management, how to save, and invest, plus much more. Check them out at the Soldier Support Center, third floor or call them at 907-3670 or 396-2507.

What I’m getting at is this; money is tight nowadays. Everyone is looking for ways to save a buck and some people are just trying to stay afloat. You may have to cut back on eating out, or going to the movies, but you can save money — without being a penny-pincher.

As much as I hate to admit it, but I was living beyond my means … now’s the time to start reeling in the elaborate shopping and only getting what I need and three pairs of black high heels are not needed. Just remind yourself, you’re helping out your future