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Ten Hundred-Dollar Reasons to Cut Down on Eating Out

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There are better ways to  spend our money!In these times of economic crisis, people are looking to cut down on luxuries, one of the common ones being dining out. The average North American family spends approximately $200 per month on eating out at restaurants or ordering take-out.

It is understandable that people don't want to cook something different every single day, and there's nothing wrong with treating yourself to eating out once in a while. The important thing is to make sure that we don't make it a routine to eat out, otherwise not only is that unhealthy, but it will also burn a hole in our wallets!

There are ways to save money without taking the spice out of life, such as eating out at less expensive restaurants, having potlucks with a group of friends, growing fruits and vegetables in your own backyard, using coupons or store cards, and by simply not wasting food.

Remember: saving money by adjusting your lifestyle also means that you're saving the environment, not just your cash. For example, you won't be using all that packaging that comes with takeout food. You can be healthy, a bit more wealthy, and do your part to help the environment.

Those are just simple solutions, but what about the money you save? Here are a few ideas on how you can spend those hundred dollars that you saved!

10. Spend it: Although this idea does seem paradoxical, you can spend the money on yourself once in a while. If there's something that you've been saving up for a long time, then go ahead and get it. Of course, it's not necessary that you spend it all or that you be on the receiving end – buy a gift for someone else, or help them out in a time of need.

9. Retrofit, repair, or redecorate: If you have any repairs you need to make to your house or car, there's $100 a month you can use. Redecorating can also be simple and easy, especially if you're interested in doing it yourself. There are redecorating kits that aren't costly, and you might even have money left over.

8. Be fit: Eating out less does improve your diet, but you can also work on your health by exercising. With $100, you can start a home gym; devote a part of the house – maybe your basement or a spare room – to fitness. Starting your own gym at home also saves you from having to purchase a membership every year from a health club, not to mention the excuses you would have to make to yourself for why you can't go to the club some days, such as the time, energy, and gas it would take to get there!

7. Save the environment: With $100 in the bank each month, you could end up having a lot of money. If you want to do your part to save the environment, you can put the money towards saving up to buy a gas-saving vehicle.

6. Work on your green thumb: Here's another idea that helps you eat healthier, eat out less, help the environment, and save money – and you can even have fun while doing it! Use the $100 to plant a beautiful garden in your backyard. You could grow your own fruits, vegetables, and flowers; you can also get or make houses and feeders to help the animals in your area.

5. Save your money: The easiest thing to do is put the money that you save each month into your bank account. It could go to your education, retirement, or credit; either way, in the future, you should definitely have extra zeroes following the 1!

4. Donate: If there is a community project you are aware about – such as constructing a new mosque, or developing a school – then you can contribute towards their fund. Even projects that are on-going in other countries (like the repair of the Askariyain shrine) can use help – help them with your du'as and dollars.

3. Sponsor an animal: This is an ongoing monthly process. There are abused, abandoned, and ill animals that need help to survive. You can sponsor an animal from an animal shelter for as little as $20 per month. You can check online for your local animal shelter and whether or not they have a sponsorship program.

2. Save the rainforest: Rainforests are being rapidly destroyed worldwide, which causes many animal species to get displaced and eventually die. The Amazon rainforest controls the Earth's climate, provides 20 percent of our oxygen, and provides 60 percent of the world's freshwater. At a cost of only $40, you can save a tree in the Amazon rainforest from being cut down by corporations. You can also plant 50 trees in the rainforest to replace any that have been cut down for only 25 dollars.

1. Save a life: There are less fortunate children all over the world, many of them victims of poverty or war. Organizations that aim to help them can never get enough funding: the children need surgery, ongoing medical care, nutritious food, education, clothing, housing, water, and electricity. You can sponsor them through organizations such as the Najaf Campaign Orphan Sponsorship at $30 per month, or the Zainabiya Child Sponsorship at $20 per month for a child's education. This is an o-going process, so you would have to continue to save money each month in order to be able to fulfill the payments.

These are just a few ideas of what you can do with the $100 or less if you continue to save each month – plus, with the use of the internet, you can spend your money in the above ways all in the comfort of your own home. As long as we avoid the extremes of stinginess and all-out squandering, it'll do our conscience, our health, our bank account, the environment, and other people around the world a lot of good!

Author of this article: Nabila Rizvi
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