So what exactly does it mean to be “frugal”? Merriam-Webster defines it as “careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to”. We can also translate this as being “smart” about how you spend your earnings and how you utilize financial resources. Many people cannot fathom the idea of a budget, let alone, actually “saving” the leftovers, so let’s just start with a few basics. Once you’ve tried at least five from the list below, I promise you’ll see your finances in a whole new light.
I recently became a fan of thrifting after going Goodwill hunting with my mom and two sisters. What I would have normally spent on four brand-new sweaters cost me less than $20. No one knows that I am wearing second-hand clothing except me. Same complements – more money in the bank.
Market your money.
So that little savings account that you can actually see every time you access your mobile (or online) banking will become a distant memory as long as you can’t actually access it anytime you want. Research some money market options that will yield you a higher return and restrict your withdrawals.
Fill her up.
Fill your gas tank up on Sunday evenings. This way you can see just how much fuel you’re using each week to travel to and from work.
Put yourself on house arrest.
If at all possible, try not to leave your house every weekend. Purposely schedule your weekend activities sparingly for at least 3 months and watch your savings grow.
Go “meal” shopping.
I received this advice recently from a friend. Instead of shopping with just a list of groceries, first plan your meals. Once you do this, most junk foods will be automatically cut out to allow for more nutritional selections. This will also steer you away from fast foods.
Leave the check card at home.
Instead, keep a little cash on you for emergencies. It’s frightening how broke you’ll feel with only $20 in your pocket, but eventually you’ll become a pro at making a dollar stretch.
Become the queen of couponing!
I once met a lady, while shopping in Walmart, who told me that she uses more coupons than cash. I couldn’t believe it. To give me a taste of the “frugal” life, she handed me a stack of her coupons to use during my shopping trip. As I quickly sifted through them, I saw that I consumed most of the items advertised. That day I spent $9 less on groceries and have been “couponing” ever since.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t open new credit accounts or borrow money just because you qualify for it. Your debt-to-income ratio could easily become lopsided once you get on the wrong side of the credit fence. Keep one credit card on deck with a low balance and continue to make timely payments on any installment debt you might have and watch that three-digit number soar.
Do your own nails.
Now, unless you’re getting hitched or standing next to the lady getting hitched, professionally done nails are a total and complete option. If you spoil yourself every two weeks (and then tip the nice nail lady on top of this) you could be spending more than $600 a year. Buy several of bottles of your favorite nail lacquers (on sale), throw in a few maintenance supplies and you could be headed to a warm, sunny beach next winter with your savings.
N. Renee McFadden, Co-Publisher