Some of society’s most asked questions are centered around money. Everyone wants to make more of it, and everyone wants advice on how to spend it when you have it, and how to spend it when you don’t. “What are some simple things that can save me money?” “What can I do to decrease my spending?” “How do I live a more frugal lifestyle without living like I’m broke?” It’s really what we all want, right? We want to find ways to save our coins, and fill our pockets. If saving money were really that easy, we would all be doing it though, right? Saving money takes discipline, time, and dedication that not everyone just has. It’s all a learning process.
Living a more frugal life doesn’t have to be a ton of drab lifestyle changes, in fact, a few small tweaks and you can be on your way to adjusting. Being frugal can very much still be fabulous, and you won’t even have to always feel like you’re giving up the things that you love. I want to share some pretty simple ways to save. Things that don’t take a lot of effort, just a few self-reminders along the way to keep you on track, and before you know it, you’ll realize that frugal can be fabulous too!
• BE CONTENT
A great way to get on the road to saving is learning to be content. Everyone driving an expensive car, and wearing expensive things is NOT secretly rolling in money. The first thing you need to do is learn to be content, and be happy with the things that you already have, instead of keeping up with other people, or always feeling like you “need” more.
• Decrease Your Expenses
Another part of being content is decreasing your expenses. When you’re trying to figure out what you can cut back on in your budget, or things that you can get at a cheaper rate, it’s easier to start on your variable expenses first. These will be expenses that vary month to month, your things that may or may not be essential. You have to decide what you’re ready to let go of, and what you really need. I talk more about this in my How to Create a Household Budget.
• Get Out Of Debt
Debt will hold you back for as long as you have it! Having debt means that you have money going out that you could be using to save, or put towards things that you really need. A good way to work towards spending less money, is to free up the money that you’re already spending. Plus, nobody wants to have crazy debt! *Inserts a double thumbs down*
• Buy your needs not your wants
Before making purchases, ask yourself if it’s a need or a want. Mind over matter. You need food, water, clothing, shelter. BUT, do you need a meal from a fancy restaurant vs eating at home? Do you need name brand, all the time? Do you need the home with more square feet than you need, and all of the bells and whistles that you really can’t afford at the time? NO, probably not.
• 24 hour Wait Period, No Spend Periods
Start to make conscious decisions with your spending. If you can decide if something is an actual need or a want, give yourself a 24 hour wait period of time before making a purchase. If after 24 hours you still feel like you need it, then you can reconsider. You can also try NO spend periods, where you consciously decide to spend no extra money outside of necessities and household expenses. I attempt to keep up with doing this at least one week out of the month. No eating out, no outside fun and activities that cost money, and absolutely no extra shopping. I find that as time goes on, it gets easier and easier to concur a no spend period. If you’re new at this, first try to get through a weekend without spending, then increase it to a week, then maybe even longer.
• Carry Cash and Save Your Change
I don’t know if this is a frugal tip, or more of a money saving tip. I read all of the time how swiping a card lessens your attachment to your money. I’ve tried it, the whole carrying around only cash thing and let me tell you, it worked for me. I didn’t want to spend 5 dollars, let alone 20 dollars. I couldn’t bear to let precious green friends slip through my fingers! It was terrible. Also while using cash, it was easier for me to keep my change for savings. It’s crazy just how quickly change can add up when you save it and let your savings grow.
• Buy Used Cars
This isn’t always an ideal tip, and sometimes you have to do what you have to do, but if you can, buy used and save and pay for your cars in CASH. It’s no secret that cars lose value as soon as you drive them off of the lot. It sounds nice to have the car with all of the bells and whistles, but not so nice to have all of the debt that comes along with it. I’ve had both a car with a car payment, and a car that we bought used and paid cash for. Surprisingly, guess which one gave me more trouble in a 3 year span? Used does not always mean unreliable, and it doesn’t always mean old and broken down. Learning to love your used car that might be a year or so behind is all a part of my first tip. Be content.
• Learning to Coupon and Stockpile
Couponing isn’t some brand new frugal secret, it’s actually been around for what seems like forever. However, it’s no secret that couponing has recently gotten a face lift and a little bit of revamped popularity. There are resources everywhere to learn and start, FREE resources. You can find information online in blogs, there are Facebook groups that you can join, or you can even ask a coupon savvy friend if you have one. Once you get the hand of it, stockpiling will soon become your new best friend.
• Money = Time, and Time is Money
Being frugal is all about your mindset. Being frugal is about learning to value your money, and living and learning to live on less. Like I said before, everyone wants to make more money, and everyone wants advice on how to spend it when you have it, and how to spend it when you don’t, but nobody ever asks how to value whatever amount that you have. Start to think of your money like this, time is money, and money is time. Before you’re making an impulse purchase, think about just how long and hard you had to work to afford it. Say you’re buying yet another pair of shoes that would end up costing you like $50. If you’re making $20 an hour, then those shoes just cost you 2 ½ hours of your time. Suppose you make even less, at $10 an hour, those shoes just cost you 5 hours of your time.
I hope you found these easy tips helpful to you. Changing your lifestyle will always become a trial and error situation, but the longer you work at it the easier it will become. I wish you nothing but luck on your fabulously frugal journey. It will take time and adjustments, and it won’t always be easy.