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Want to save money? Stop shopping

After Bankrate.com ran a story on the seven-day money challenge, readers flooded us with e-mails describing their own savings success stories. They also had lots of advice and tips for others who need help sticking to a budget.

The money challenge is simple. Figure out how much cash you need to cover a week's worth of expenses such as groceries, gas, food out and entertainment. Then, get that amount of cash and put away your credit or debit cards. As you go through the week, jot down in a notepad what you're spending or you won't remember where the money went. Can you make it seven days? Or will you run out at midweek?

This exercise will help you understand your spending habits and identify where you can cut back in order to keep within your budget. If you need to create a budget, just use this handy work sheet.

The stories that follow are from readers who are conscious of their spending and proud of their saving ability. Maybe one of their tips will help you get on the road to saving.

Stop shopping

Wal-Mart calls, she spends
Your article really opened my eyes to what I was spending in a week! Every day after I drop my son off at school, I can hear Wal-Mart calling my name. I end up spending on average $20 to $30 on stuff that I just see and get. This is stuff that is not on my list of necessities. I have started coming straight home after dropping him off, and I have saved $150 at the end of the week, just from coming home instead of walking around at the store. Thanks for the advice!
-- Sheila McC.

Cut out unnecessary items
I cut out all fast food and luxury items that are not necessary, such as cosmetics, that morning coffee run and going out to lunch. I personally think that people overspend because they are wrapped up in the societal draw of a consumer nation. I liked your article because I feel that if perhaps people saw that they were spending $25+ a week on fast food or coffee, they might think twice.
-- Billie N.

Quit smoking, save $4 a day
I started doing this about a year ago. All my money was going to an ampm store along with 7-Eleven and so I quit going there. I will not buy a Coke or eat out anymore. While I am on Supplemental Security Income, I have been able to save $150 a month for over a year. Also I just reached my eighth day with no tobacco, and I save over $4 a day again. When you are real poor like me it adds up. I even have $500 (saved). If you look hard, you can find a lot of ways to cut down and save.
-- Steve M.

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