How do we live the frugal life? It can’t be done without self-knowledge, attention to detail, and yes, time and effort. It is easy to get things done when we just throw money at the problem. But that is not necessarily a good idea in the long run. Unless you are very rich and just don’t care. But there is a huge and joyful pay-off to doing the work to craft a rich yet frugal life So how is it done? Here are 10 tips to get you started:
- Get organized. Many of the basic techniques of a frugal life DEMAND a degree of organization. For example–how can you avoid wasting food if you have no routine or schedule but keep shopping as if you do? Or how can you avoid library fines if you can’t find the books that need returning?
- Keep track of ALL the money that comes in–no matter how small. If you don’t know how much you have you could get an unpleasant surprise.
- Know EXACTLY how much you owe, and what the amount of your monthly expenses are.
- Cut all expenses that are not serving you. The useless gym membership, the online dribs and drabs. If you don’t use it–get rid of it!
- If you are running a negative balance or your expenses and income are the same– you are forcibly frugal. Look through the posts here that to get some ideas on making your life better. Cut your expenses anywhere you can. But–if you are lucky enough to have something left over you now have work to do.
- Set up fool-proof systems. Pay with a debit card that rejects the sale instead of over-drawing your account. Set up automatic bill pay for any items that will charge you a penalty for being late or where being cancelled can hurt you (car insurance for example). Make sure you pay all taxes and quarterly payments on time. In fact–make it early. If you have a tendency to forget make sure you don’t have to remember.
- It is time to decide what to do with your disposable income. The first step is SAVINGS. This may be in the form of a savings account, but that is really just a holding area. You need to investigate other places to put your money that pay you more. Go to Amazon.com and look at investment books for beginners, or find a MeetUp.com investors group in your area.
- When you are thinking of buying something, ask yourself a few questions. Do you REALLY need/want it? Is If yes, is this particular item the very best thing to fill the need at the best price? Could you find it used or borrow it? Think things through before you pull out your wallet.
- You don’t need to save ALL the disposable income. Life is for living. Spending is part of dealing with money, and part of a frugal life. The difference between a spendthrift and a frugal person is that the frugal one spends it well. Deciding what to do with your pleasure money is very personal and takes thought. Unless you are very wealthy you have to make choices. Maybe small ones–buy that new dress or go out to dinner. Or maybe big ones–the camera or the trip. It’s your money and your life. Just don’t fritter it away on small things while you can’t make up your mind.
- Being frugal often involves using other resources besides money. What are yours? What can you use to barter with? If you want or need something, ask yourself how you could achieve the outcome you want without using any money at all. When you strike up a business relationship with someone always ask if they are willing to trade. You may be surprised. This only works if you are doing business with actual people and not corporations. This is a good reason to do business with small outfits that are capable of trading.
If you use these ten tips you will feel more in control instantly. And if you keep it up you will have more money, more control over your life, and more fun. That is the point of a living a frugal well-ordered life!