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Everyday Cheapskate: The Secret to Staying Out of the Red and in the Black

Mary Hunt on

When I am not writing about personal finance and consumer debt, I knit. Something about the gentle rhythm of yarn and needle calms my spirit and unwinds my brain.

I have managed to finish a few projects, not because I'm a great knitter but because I can "tink" almost as well as I knit (knit spelled backward is the process of undoing your stitches to fix a mistake).

Because all knitters make mistakes, tinking is a required skill for those who take the craft seriously. It doesn't take too many oversized sweaters or undersized hats to figure out that the smallest error at the beginning of a project can produce disastrous results if not found and corrected.


Money is a lot like knitting. By some miracle, all knitting consists of just two stitches: knit and purl. Likewise, with money you have two options: spend or save. And who among us can say they have never made a financial error? We all make mistakes, but the secret to staying out of the red is correcting the little mistakes before they lead to disastrous results.

In both money management and knitting, the more you practice, the fewer mistakes you'll make. And the more success you'll enjoy.


If you've ever found yourself in the red, it is likely that you didn't land in that position overnight. Rather, it was a series of small, uncorrected mistakes that over time escalated to the crimson condition.


As a college freshman, I made the mistake of thinking I could get away with spending money before I actually had it. The first time I dared to write a check for more money than I had in my account, I was nervous. But I figured with any luck, my next paycheck would get to the bank before the one I was about to write. It's a chance I was willing to take.

Actually, my little plan worked perfectly. My paycheck did get there first, and no one was the wiser. So, I pulled that stunt again and again. I got caught from time to time but cleverly concluded I wasn't really overdrawn; I was just underdeposited!


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