Building a frugal lifestyle doesn’t happen overnight; however, even a small start can result in some substantial savings. It is much like going on a crash diet after many years of overeating. This approach just doesn’t work in the long run.
The same can be said for trying to become suddenly frugal after many years of over-consumption and careless spending.
The proper approach to setting up and beginning a frugal lifestyle is to ease into it. Start slowly by selecting one or two frugal tips and ideas and become really good at doing these. Pick a few more ideas, master them and keep it going.
Soon, you will have a solid foundation built for frugal living. From here you can really ratchet up your momentum and see the monthly savings start to snowball. The possibilities are endless.
In a recent survey taken by
long time thrifty lifestylers recommended the five most effective ways to begin your frugal lifestyle:
Beginning Frugal lifestyle Way One: Set Up a Budget
If there is one thing you must do, this is it. You have to know where your money is going each and every month before you can begin analyzing where you can cut or eliminate expenses. You do not need complex and expensive budgeting software. Use these convenient, free printable forms as a guide. This is all you need.
If you have not been tracking your expenses, take several months to record where every penny goes. Once this is done, you will now be able to look at each expense and brainstorm how they can be reduced or eliminated. These new numbers will form the basis of your new monthly frugal budget.
After you have completed your new monthly budget, subtract your total expenses from your total income to see if your expenses are less than your total income. If your expenses are still higher than your income, redo the budget by taking more drastic action. Make a maximum savings budget. For example, when I began with my first budget, I had to redo it twice to make ends meet. I had to look at moving to a smaller and less expensive house. I had to completely stop eating out at restaurants. I then started cutting out things such as cable TV, selling my second car, cancelling all magazine subscriptions and substantially reducing my entertainment expenses.
As your financial picture improves, you can begin adding back some expenses as long as your income equals your expenses at the end of the month. Always remember that whatever household expenses you have, purchases you plan to make or activities you plan to do, there is most likely a frugal way of purchasing that item or enjoying that activity.
Beginning Frugal Lifestyle Way Two: Meal Planning
Eating out is fun and entertaining but nowadays it is very hard on your monthly budget. Meal planning is about cooking at home and basically involves the use of grocery and other store coupons, planning your meals around the coupons and store sales, bulk buying and bulk or multi-recipe cooking.
In most parts of the country, grocery and drug store coupons come in the Sunday edition of your local newspaper. Schedule your shopping on a weekly basis and plan as many meals around the coupons and store specials as you can.
Get as many coupons as you can for bulk buying of the items you need. This will allow you to stockpile sale items for preparation of your future meals. As time permits, set aside one morning or afternoon to prepare and cook numerous main meal recipes that can be frozen and used for next week’s meals. For more information, click on this link- Meal Planning.
Beginning Frugal Lifestyle Way Three: Reduce Entertainment Expense
This is a major area that will give you many opportunities to reduce your monthly expenses. Entertainment expenses come in many forms and will include movies, cable TV, vacations, concerts, books and DVDs. Add up all of the expenses that you currently have in connection with having fun and being entertained and then brainstorm ways to find entertainment substitutions that will be less expensive but still provide frugal fun.
Here are some ways to have fun and keep your expenses down at the same time:
Use Your Library
Public libraries offer many ways to have fun for free. Rather than paying $ 15 to $ 24 to buy a book, see if your library has it. The same goes for audio books, DVDs, video games and on-line movies.
If you have to give up your internet access as part of your cut back program, most libraries have free access to their computers and to the internet. Libraries also have many programs for children of all ages. The majority of library services are free and this is a major weapon in helping you stretch your dollar and make ends meet. After all, this is the purpose of the frugal lifestyle way.
Look for Movie Alternatives
Going to the movies is expensive, especially if you add in the cost of popcorn and sodas. Instead, watch movies from home. One of the most cost effective ways is to sign up for a monthly Netflix subscription for $ 9.99. You will receive DVDs for TV programs and movies on a weekly basis. You can also rent DVDs from Redbox for $ 1. These DVDs are dispensed from vending machines found mainly in grocery and drug stores. Currently Redbox has over 25,000 locations.
Search Out Community Events
Most communities have a wide variety of festivals which occur almost on a monthly basis. These are generally free and will include such events as music and art festivals. If the events are outside, take a picnic and enjoy some great frugal fun.
The best source of information will be in your local community paper or go online and search by entering “your city + free festivals”. While you are online, check to see if your county has a county fair coming up. If so, see if there is a section on “admissions policy”. This may tell you if there are certain days or times that are discount days or times.
Beginning Frugal Lifestyle Way Four: Break the Shopping Habit
The habit of going shopping as a means of fun and entertainment is one that most of us have spent years cultivating. It is sadly reinforced by today’s slick media advertising. It is also a habit that most of us cannot afford in today’s economy.
This ingrained habit appeals to our emotions not to the logical part of our brain. It is what leads to one of the biggest obstacles to frugal living-Impulse Spending. To guard against these impulses, try using a proven technique called “ Six Question Shopping Analysis”:
Is it in my monthly household budget?
Why am I buying this?
Is this a true need or an emotional want?
What would be a reason that the item or service is not needed?
At this moment am I bored or depressed?
Will I have to use my credit card? If yes, don’t buy it today. If you really need it, come back the next day and pay cash.
Beginning Frugal Lifestyle Way Five: Reduce Home Energy Usage
No matter where you live, the majority of your utility bill comes from heating and/or cooling your home. The following tips will reduce your monthly/yearly energy costs and take pressure off your budget.
Have a home energy audit conducted. An energy audit is an assessment of where the most energy is being used in each major area of your home. You can have the audit done professionally by contacting your local utility company. These services are generally free or at least very inexpensive.
Check the insulation level for all spaces in your home that require or need insulation. Go online to energysavers.gov for advice on how to check insulation levels.
Install a programmable thermostat.
Turn your hot water heater down to 120°.
Look for ways to use lighting controls such as dimmers or timers.
Replace your standard(incandescent) light bulbs with compact fluorescent lamps.
Install exterior window shades. These are screened window coverings that will go over the windows where you have the most sun exposure or the strongest winds. Those living in the sunbelt states will benefit the most. You can probably lower your room temperature by 15 to 18 degrees.
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