Good Sunday morning, everyone! Talking money this morning, how to keep more of it kind of money talk! You liked the sound of that didn’t you? Most of these take very little work but a lot of self-discipline.

1.) Make a grocery list and never go shopping on an empty stomach. Shopping without a list and especially while hungry is dangerous to your wallet.

If you make a menu for the week ahead and the shopping list from it, you should only be buying what you’ve intended. Shopping from a list keeps you focused to spend less but also keeps you from buying foods that may go bad before it gets eaten.

Did you know that both Meijer and Walmart donate their expired produce to our local food pantry at Salvation Army? If you buy it and throw it away, because it wasn’t on your list, it’s just wasted food that some family, in need, could have taken advantage of.

2.) If you must eat out, take advantage of the fast food restaurant deals.

Culver’s has Buy 1 Get 1 Free Value Baskets and Double Deluxe Sandwich coupons, which is a huge savings. Arby’s often has two for $5 sandwich specials. McDonald’s has no coupon required $1, $2 and $3 food and drink specials every day.

What about pizza? Little Caesars Pizza has hot and ready pizzas every day for $5. Or you can bake it yourself by purchasing a Papa Murphy’s FAVES pizza for $5 also.

Anyone who gets mail, which is everyone, gets money saving coupons in the mail all the time. It just takes a little effort to cut them out and use them. In the long run your wallet and budget will thank you.

3.) Buy in bulk. It can be expensive at the time of purchase but in the long run it will save you money. Membership to Sam’s Club is $45. But even with that expense, if you buy dry goods and frozen foods, that won’t go bad quickly it can really save you some money.

Meijer often has its 10 for $10 specials, which is not only giving you 10 items at $1 a piece it also gives you the 11th item for free. Again, if you are buying things that will get eaten before the expiration date, it is cost saving.

4.) Quit buying expensive coffee drinks. I buy a Starbucks coffee most times when I go to Champaign or am traveling out of the area, but that is not often. And I really do love our Mad Goat Coffee Shops and their idea of bringing people together over coffee. It truly is where relationships and great conversations happen.

That being said, let’s do some math. If a latte cost $5 and you purchased one each day of the work week, you just spent $25. Which equals $1,300 in a year’s time. Coffee at home is around 30 cents a cup.

I love that we have a variety of places to shop and eat out in our community and I want it to stay that way. But I also want families to be prepared for emergencies that will come. Having an emergency savings of $1,000 requires putting back as little as $20 a week. By making some of these changes, your health and your finances will thank you.

Give. Advocate. Volunteer. Live United.

Sherri M. Askren is president of United Way of Danville Area, Inc., 28 W. North St., Danville, IL 61832. Phone: 442-3512

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