What Is A Frugal Life
Frugal means a lot of different things to different people. For some, it means being cheap. This is what stops meany from living a frugal life, they do not want to be cheap.
The truth is though that being frugal does not mean being cheap. It also does not mean that you can not live your life without any treats or joy. You can be frugal and still live a good life.
What frugal means is being responsible for your money. You can still reward yourself from time to time, but you can not waste your money. To be frugal is to not waste your money and in 2020, that is more important than ever.
Ready to be frugal and happy in the year of the Coronavirus? We can help with a few tips to get you going.
- Establish A Budget
A written budget is crucial because it gives you a map that shows where your money is going. Without a budget, you can not see clearly where exactly your money is going. If you can’t see where it is going, it is harder to see how much you are wasting.
The best way to create a budget is to use a simple spreadsheet to do so. Most computers come with a budget form in the native spreadsheet program. If not, you can learn about making a budget here.
- Save Automatically
Make sure that there is room in that budget for savings and make your payment to your savings account automatic. Have money withdrawn the morning that you get paid so that you never see the money. Have that money placed in an online savings account that is separate from your normal bank as well. Out of sight and out of mind.
- Shop The Grocery Sales
This is particularly important if your family eats a lot of meat. You need to shop the “loss leaders” and stock up when they are on sale. If chicken goes on sale, buy as much as you can and freeze it. If macaroni and cheese is “buy one get one free”, load up the pantry. Take the items that you eat the most and stock up when you can.
Of course, it should go without saying that you should not stock up on perishables. Produce and dairy are not good bulk items to buy. In addition, get a 200 dollar deep freezer. It will more than pay for itself in a few months.
- Add A Side Gig
Almost everyone can make a little extra money on the side. Unless you are a corporate attorney working 100 hours a week, you can probably fit a side gig in. This could be driving a few hours with Uber, picking up a shift at the local Walmart or simply taking a few surveys online to earn a few bucks. Every little bit counts. Even if you just stock shelves once a week for 6 hours, you could get 5000 dollars more a year into your pocket.
- Live Below Your Means
Living a step below your means can help you stay afloat when the waters get rough. The money that you save can be placed into savings and if you were to lose some or all of your income, you would be able to keep on going.
If you can afford a 400,000 dollar house, live in a 350,000 dollar one. If you have the money for a BMW, buy a Ford. These things that we think we need in life are really not all that important in the end. What counts is being stable and secure with an ultimate goal of a comfortable retirement.
- Buy Used When Possible
If you are looking to make a purchase that costs more than 100 dollars, look at the used market first. Even the deep freezer that I mentioned above can be had for much cheaper used. It might be 200 dollars new but could be had for 75 dollars used. My “go to” website to find used items is Facebook Marketplace. There seem to be less scammers on it than on Craigslist and it is loaded with inventory.
- Eliminate Credit Card Debt
American households carry nearly 20,000 dollars in credit card debt. That is thousands of dollars a year in interest. Make it a point to stop wasting this money by paying down your credit card debt. If possible, get a debt consolidation loan at a lower rate. If not, pay off the highest interest rate card first and then work your way down.
- Shop Your Major Bills
Part of the benefit of having that budget is the ability to closely examine your bills. From time to time, at least twice a year, you should consider shopping those bills. Look at your auto insurance, your electric company (if your service is deregulated), your internet provider, etc. Take the time to call around and see if you can get a better rate.
- Take Advantage Of The Free Things
There are a lot of free items and activities that we can and should take advantage of to save money. Take advantage of the free library instead of buying digital downloads. Go to free concerts and festivals hosted by yours and surrounding cities. Get free product samples in the mail. Nothing beats free when you are frugal.
- Learn To Cook
Cooking can be a fantastic hobby that actually saves you money. I rarely go out to dinner anymore because I know that I can make better food at home for a fraction of the price. Whenever I do go out, I end up disappointed at the quality of food that I was served and what I paid for it.
If you can not cook, learn. Take it step by step because it is not nearly as hard as you may think. I once had a hard time cooking chicken breast and now I make my own Chinese food and serve steak with blue cheese butter.