Archive for June 2015

Are You Cheap or Frugal? 2 Examples to Help You Decide


hamburger-407103_1280Sometimes the words ?frugal? and ?cheap? are used interchangeably to describe people who don?t like to spend a lot of money. I have used them interchangeably in the past myself, but since then I?ve learned that frugal and cheap have vastly different meanings.

According to, frugal is an adjective which means ?economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful.” While cheap, when used an adjective, means ?costing very little; relatively low in price; inexpensive.”

On the surface they may still seem to be synonymous, but in practice, being cheap is not frugal and being frugal is not always cheap. Here are two examples to illustrate what I mean.

On Food

If you are a frugal person, you will cook your meals at home using ingredients that were on sale at the grocery store that week. You will clip coupons and shop primarily in the outer edges of the store to obtain the healthiest ingredients at the best prices because you know that spending a little more money to eat healthy will save money on health care?in the long-run.

However, if you are a cheap person you will eat a lot of highly processed junk food and fast food from dollar menus. Your main focus is to spend as little money on food as possible. You also generally don?t consider the long-term effects of eating this junk food and what it will cost you later in life when you develop diabetes, high cholesterol, or other expensive health problems. You only consider the costs today.

On Household Purchases

A frugal person will shop around to get the best deal before making a large purchases for their household. No matter if it?s furniture that needs replacing, a kitchen appliance, or something smaller, they do adequate research to find high-quality goods for a decent price. They don?t usually settle for the bottom of the barrel equipment, but they don?t necessarily have to have top-of-the-line items either. They often buy used items that are in good condition.

Before they even consider buying something new, a frugal person will seek to maintain and fix the items they already own. Only if it?s not economical to fix something will they even consider buying something new.

Conversely, a cheap person will almost never try to fix anything and they don?t usually treat their belongings with care. They don?t shop around and they don?t plan ahead. They wait until the last minute to purchase something they need and then they buy the first cheap option they come across.

You can probably tell already, there is a pattern here. While a frugal person likes to save money, they also know that spending more money to get higher quality goods will help them over the long-run. They won?t have to replace their belongings as often and the won?t have to worry as much about negative consequences of their money-saving actions because they consider the opportunity costs before making a purchasing decision. Being frugal is usually a positive, while being cheap is usually a negative over the long-run.


Are you frugal or are you cheap? Why do you think so many confuse the two terms? What things are you purposely frugal in so as to have money for other needs?



Photo courtesy of: Pixabay

4 Ways to Get Back on Track Financially This Year

Get Back on Track

4458621748_416e7faf75_zIt is easy to get off track financially?and suddenly find yourself staring at a growing pile of bills each month. While it can be a bad feeling to get into this position, there is no sense sitting around and worrying about it ? the only thing you can do is get started on correcting the problem. By developing a plan of action to get yourself on the right financial path, you can set a course toward a more prosperous future.

Obviously it would be great if you were able to increase your income as a way to deal with your bills ? but that isn?t always possible. Until you are able to land that raise or promotion that you are looking for, consider the following four ways that you can get yourself back on the right financial path this year.

#1 ? Cut Out Two Bills

Look through your monthly bills and try to identify two that you could either reduce, or eliminate altogether. If you are like most people, this process shouldn?t be that hard as you are probably already paying for things that you don?t need or don?t use that often.

Examples of bills that could potentially be cut out include gym memberships and other ongoing subscriptions. Items that could maybe be reduced include your cable bill and your cell phone bill, if you are able to downgrade to a less-expensive plan.

#2 ? Save First, Spend Later

Most people go about the process of saving in reverse. They spend their money throughout the month how they wish, and then try to save whatever is left over.

Try turning that process around ? move a percentage of your money into savings right away, and then use what is left to pay your bills and pay for other costs like entertainment and shopping. This will take discipline, but you will start to appreciate the value of this approach when you see your savings account?start to add up.

#3 ? Attack the High Interest Rates

When paying down debt, be sure that you are going after the debts with the highest interest rates first and foremost. This is also known as the debt avalanche method. Usually this means attacking your credit cards first.?If you are able to pay more than the minimum each month on these balances, focus your extra payments toward getting rid of the balances on your accounts with the highest rates.

While it might be exciting to think about paying off your student loan or a car loan, for example, those rates are usually far lower than a credit account. Be smart about your payments so you can save in the long run.

#4 ? Reduce Your Grocery Bill

There is a good chance that you could save money each month at the grocery store just by planning ahead better and shopping smarter. Wasted food is money that goes wasted as well ? so try to plan your meals in a way that you don?t end up throwing away very much food because it has gone bad before getting used. Make use of leftovers and look for sales at the grocery store to save money week after week.


What other ways can you think of to help yourself get back on track? What is the first thing you’d do to get back on track financially?



Photo courtesy of: Mecki Mac

How to Celebrate Your Financial Milestones Frugally

Financial Milestone

Financial MilestoneI recently reached a financial milestone in my journey to be debt free– I paid off one of my credit cards!

As excited as I was and as much as I wanted to celebrate my financial milestone, I wanted to make sure it was a frugal celebration so I wouldn?t be setting myself back in my progress.

Similar to how children?s birthday parties have become huge, over-the-top affairs, the way that people celebrate every milestone in their lives (financial or not) has gone over-board in my opinion.

Coming up with frugal ways to celebrate your financial milestones can be difficult, especially if you haven?t stopped to re-define your version of a celebration. Here are some ideas to help you celebrate your next financial milestone frugally.

Celebrate at Home

For me, it is especially tempting to celebrate my milestones by going out to eat, taking in a movie at the theatre, or treating myself to a pampering pedicure, but these options are not the most frugal. Instead, I?m trying to be better about celebrating my financial milestones at home, where it?s easier for me to control the costs of my celebration.

While I continue to work full-time and run my online freelance business on the side, my time is precious. So even taking an afternoon or evening off to watch a movie at home, enjoy a bubble bath, or spend some time playing with my dogs in the backyard is a rarity, and a good frugal treat.

If none of those options appeal to you, perhaps you can have a fun meal at home with friends and family, or simply spend some time on a hobby you?ve put on the back-burner lately.

One of my blogger friends, Cat, who is a business owner and a mom to 1-year-old twins typically choses to spend her celebration time locked away in the sanctuary of her bedroom, reading, listening to music, or simply enjoying the silence, whenever her hubby takes his turn with their twins.

Take Advantage of Specials

If you really want to celebrate your financial milestone out and about instead of at home, try to take advantage of specials, coupons, or other deals to make your celebration more frugal.

The last time I celebrated a financial milestone, I asked my family to celebrate with me at my favorite Mexican restaurant. To save money on eating out, I didn?t actually eat dinner. Instead, we opted to share an appetizer and ordered margaritas, a rare treat.

Another place you might be able to take advantage of a special to make your celebration more frugal is at the movie theatre. The community I lived in during college offered cheaper movies if the start time was before 6:00 p.m. during the week, and on Tuesdays a tub of popcorn and a soda were $1 each. That made for a pretty cheap (but not healthy) dinner and a movie once in a while as a treat.

No matter if you decide to celebrate your next financial milestone at home or out and about, there are lots of ways to make it frugal so you don?t have any setbacks in your progress. Celebrating your milestones is important, but that doesn?t mean it needs to be over-the-top.


How do you celebrate financial milestones? What are some simple things you like to do to celebrate something? Do you prefer having celebrations along the way of working on something or do you save it for the end?



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3 Signs You?re Headed for Financial Trouble

Financial Trouble

9044771759_6a89cc9c60_zWhen it comes to finances, some people just prefer to keep themselves in the dark regarding the true state of their accounts, especially if they are in debt. If you aren?t making enough money to cover all of your expenses, it can be easier to just ignore the problem rather than meeting it head on and finding a solution.

Of course, this is a bad idea ? and can lead to serious problems down the line. Rather than hiding from your money issues, take an honest look at your situation so you can make the tough decisions necessary to get back on track.

Below are three signs that you may be headed for financial trouble. If you notice any of these signs in your own life, be sure to address the issue right away.

Reliance on Credit Cards

This is probably the most common sign that there is financial trouble brewing. While credit cards can be used correctly in a variety of circumstances, you shouldn?t have to rely on them in order to pay your regular monthly bills. If you do, it is likely that you are spending more money than you bring in each month. That reality is a path toward major financial problems in the very near future.

Not only does leaning too heavily on your credit cards mean you will soon be paying interest charges on those accounts, but you will also run out of credit sooner or later. As soon as you notice that you have to lean on credit just to cover your bills each month, stop and take a closer look at your whole financial picture.

Stagnant Wages

Have you been making the same amount of money for a long period of time? The cost of living will gradually increase over time, and if your wages don?t follow suit, you could soon find that you can?t afford the same lifestyle that you had gotten used to.

Keep track of your annual earnings as the years go by and make sure that you are making progress to at least keep up with the cost of living at the very least. If not, you might need to get to work on either obtaining a raise within your current company or finding a new position that pays a better wage.

Lack of Control

People who have very little idea of what is going on in their financial lives are sure to run into problems at one point or another. It is important that you know what your accounts look like and what your expenses look like so you can plan for the future properly.

If you aren?t sure exactly how much money is in the bank, or even how much money you spend on a monthly basis, it will be very difficult to make smart decisions and manage your money wisely. Just like you try to keep your actual house clean and organized, your financial house should be in order as well. There are a variety of tools you can use to take control and monitor your finances – a favorite of mine is Personal Capital as they allow you to manage your finances and track your spending for free.


Have you ever seen any of these signs in your life? What did you do to reverse the trend and get back on track financially? What are some other signs of financial trouble you can think of?



Photo courtesy of: Schwar

3 Time Sucking Activities You Should Quit Today

Time Sucking

children-403582_1280Time is money. It?s amazing how often we forget that while we make our way through our daily routines.

Most of my days are pretty similar. I get up and get ready and then I go to work at my full-time job. After work I go home, prepare supper, play with my dogs for a few minutes, and then sit down and put in at least 4-5 more hours of work, sometimes more and sometimes less, for my freelance business. Then I go to bed so I can do it all again the next day.

For me, more time means more money. More money means I can pay off debt quicker?and quit my full-time job sooner. Everyday I’m discovering new ways to make money, many of which can be done online or from home – like Swagbucks, which allows you to earn rewards for surfing the web. Even if your schedule is nothing like mine I?m sure that your time is just as precious to you as mine is to me. So why do we waste so much time every day?

When I told you about my daily routine what I didn?t mention is the few minutes here and there that I waste on social media, mindlessly watching T.V., or browsing on the internet. It?s not that I want to be productive every minute of every day. Instead it?s that I want to make sure that even my free time is spent on things that are important to me, like my friends and family.

Here are the three biggest time sucking culprits I?ve come across in my life and how I plan to avoid them in the future.


I?ve always been of the opinion that if you have time to watch T.V. then you have time for other more fulfilling activities instead. That doesn?t always mean work. It could be that you decide to use your T.V. time to learn a new skill, practice another hobby, spend time with family, or volunteer in your community. But watching T.V. is a time sucking activity that gives absolutely nothing back to your life so it?s one that I?ve worked very hard to stay away from.

Smart Phones

Ahh smart phones! They?ve made our lives easier in so many ways. These days we can be connected to our friends, family, and our bosses 24/7 (which is not always a good thing). But smartphones can also be a huge time sucking culprit. With their many social media apps, like Facebook and Twitter, and their long list of games, like Candy Crush, it?s hard not to get sucked into using your smartphone for things that don?t enhance your life.

To combat this in my life, I?ve deleted all of the games from my phone and I try to limit my social media activity as much as possible. I still use social media regularly for personal and professional use, but I try not to get carried away with it. I used to use the games on my smartphone as an time-filling measure whenever I had a few awkward minutes between scheduled activities in my day, but now I try to spend that time building my business on social media, or reading a novel on the [easyazon_link identifier=”B00I15SB16″ locale=”US” tag=”wisedollar-20″ cart=”y” popups=”y”]Kindle[/easyazon_link] app.


Much like smartphones, computers are a daily part of the lives of lots of people. I use a computer for at least 12-15 hours each weekday between my full-time job and my online business ventures. It?s hard to completely get away from computers, but there are still some ways to avoid losing track of time while watching cat videos on YouTube.

Time tracker apps can be installed that force you to get off the Internet after a certain amount of time, or you can just set an old-fashioned timer.

Sometimes I?m guilty of telling myself that I?m ?doing research? for one of my writing jobs, when really I?m just wasting time on the Internet. Luckily, WordPress has a ?distraction free writing? mode that prevents this from happening when you are in the middle of writing an article. 🙂



How much time do you waste on these activities each day or week? How do you manage your time so you don’t waste too much time? What are some other time sucking activities are you guilty of?



Photo courtesy of: mojzagrebinfo