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Love saving money without being a Scrooge

Saving money without being a scrooge can sometimes be a hard balance to strike. But the good news is that in 2010, being thrifty is cool!

Until the recession kicked in, we had become a nation of spenders who thought of shopping as a leisure activity and had the credit card bills to prove it. Cheap and easy to access credit meant the tills were ringing wildly every weekend as consumers demanded more and more. Products became cheaper and more disposable as households tried to keep up with the latest fashions for home design, clothing and technology.

Luxury became the order of the day and 'special' lines at supermarkets were standard fare for many shoppers. A whole generation was splurging on credit without any thought for the consequences. Indeed, it became almost a badge of status to have as many credit cards as possible! The economy was overheating; house prices escalated, banks lent 125% mortgages, retail parks boomed and online shopping surged. Britain was on a spending frenzy with little thought for what might lay ahead.

Since then the credit crunch and recession have bitten deep and lessons have been learned. With bankers bonuses and politicians expense scandals hitting the headlines, living a life of excess is scorned rather than celebrated.

So does that mean living like a scrooge is acceptable now? Not entirely. It's all about keeping a balance and using some common sense. Examples of common sense advice include keeping some money aside for emergencies, spending within your means, avoiding the lure of credit and thinking about what is really an essential before you buy.

If you are in debt, be harsh and cut up those credit cards. Avoid minimum repayments unless you want a life of penury and find ways to overpay on debts to clear them quicker. See a financial advisor or seek free help from your local citizens advice bureau.

Even if you're in the black, learn to budget so that you have control of your finances. Review your direct debits to make sure you're not spending money on products or services you don't use. Create a budget that allows you to live a little but try to put something aside in a savings account each month so you have something for a rainy day.

It is still possible to have a social life whilst saving money - look out for discount codes for restaurants and shops and try to think of things to do that don't involve spending money. Think walks in the park, trips to free museums or outings to the seaside in summer.

If you're keen to expand your social circle, try to meet new people by joining projects and groups rather than via expensive socialising and nights on the town. And seek help where you can. Advice and strategies from those who manage their finances successfully can help you enjoy life and save money without becoming a scrooge.

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