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The Secret to Saving: Think Before You Spend There's a difference between spending irresponsibly and spending on things that improve your quality of life. Knowing the difference can set you free.

By J.D. Roth

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A Guide to Conscious Spending
Conscious spending usually means cutting out one thing to afford another. Every purchase is a trade-off, but conscious spending makes those trade-offs explicit. Here are some examples:

Buy your clothes at garage sales or thrift stores so you have money for the car you've always wanted.

Elect to rent a cheap apartment so you have money to dine in fancy restaurants.

Give up cable television so you can afford a gym membership.

Walk, bike or take the bus to work so you can afford to take vacations around the world.

Refuse to eat out so you can afford season tickets to your favorite sports team's games

My friends are appalled when they learn I spend $200 a month for a gym membership. "I thought you were supposed to be the King of Frugal," one of them said to me the other day. Not really. I'm more like the King of Conscious Spending.

Sometimes people forget that it's OK to spend the money they earn. Sure, you should set aside an emergency fund, save for your children's college education and sock away money for retirement. But after you've done these things, what's left is yours to improve your quality of life.

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