Tag Archive for Frugality

4 Overlooked Budget Leaks You Need to Kill Now

budget leaks

budget leaksCreating, and then maintaining, a solid budget is one of the best things you can do for your financial life. It can be difficult to keep track of all of your expenses during the week while life is busy, so set aside some time on the weekends (or whenever you have spare time) to work on a budget and make adjustments as necessary.

If you can set a budget and stick to it for the long-run, your bank account will reflect your discipline.

Unfortunately, many budgets spring ?leaks? from time to time, and those leaks need to be plugged up as quickly as possible. Take a look in your own budget for any of the four leaks below, and take corrective action as necessary if you find that these points are costing you money.

How Much Food Do You Buy?

You can?t eliminate your food budget, obviously, but there is a good chance that you could trim it back while still getting everything you need to eat. There are two common ways in which money gets wasted within a food budget ? going out to eat too frequently, and buying food at the store that never gets consumed.

If you can do a better job of shopping smart and avoiding waste, your food dollar will go a lot further.

Movies are Expensive

One of the sneakiest ways to blow through your budget is to go to too many movies during the course of a month. With all of the entertainment options available at home these days, you are spending more money than necessary to be entertained when you buy a seat at a movie theater. Sure, there is nothing wrong with going to the occasional movie, but limit this activity to keep your budget in check.

Excessive Monthly Charges

There are a number of other bills in your life, like food, that simply can?t be eliminated. For example, you need car insurance (if you own a car), health insurance and more. Even though you can?t wipe these away, you may be able to optimize them in order to save money each month without losing the coverage you need.

Work through all of your options on each monthly bill that you pay in order to make sure you aren?t sending more money out the door than is absolutely necessary. A great way to stay on top of these charges is to track your expenses with a free tool like Personal Capital. Not only does it allow you to track your expenses, but it also helps you monitor all your financial accounts in one location.

The Daily Coffee

Coffee used to be something that was cheap and a great way to start the morning. That has changed, however, and many coffee drinks are now a serious investment. With drinks from popular chains regularly costing $5 or more, you can do major damage to your monthly budget simply by stopping in for a coffee each morning of your work week.

If you can break this habit, you may be able to save as much as $1,000 or more in a single year! You don?t have to give up coffee totally, either ? consider brewing some at home before you go for pennies on the dollar as compared to purchasing it from a coffee shop.

 

Does your budget suffer from any of these leaks? What other budget leaks do you suffer from? What are you going to do to plug them?

 

Photo courtesy of: 304cina62

4 Easy Ways to Be More Frugal

Frugal

light-bulb-503881_1280It?s not much of a secret anymore, but I?m going to throw it out there anyway in case you don?t already know ? I?m not 100 percent frugal by nature.

I was talking to my dad the other day and he asked me if I ?took advantage? of being in a larger town when I had a doctor?s appointment the other day. By that, he meant did I use it as an excuse to go shopping.

When I told him that I simply went to my doctor?s appointment and then drove straight home he was astonished, until I told him why.

I reminded him that I didn?t have anything I needed to get while I was there. I only went to go to the doctor and I wanted to get back home as quickly as possible so I could get back to work. I also told him that my goal is to pay off debt?and I?ll get there much faster by not going shopping for things I don?t have a true need for.

Because I?m not frugal by nature, I?ve had to ease myself into being more frugal. If you aren?t frugal by nature either, here are four easy ways to help get you started.

1 ? Make Smart Energy Swaps

I?ve done several easy things to cut down on the amount of energy I consume. For example, I wash my clothes in cold water and dry them on low heat. I also use nature to regulate the temperature in my house until I absolutely have to turn on the AC or furnace. Whenever a light bulb burns out I replace it with a lower energy bulb, and I use natural sunlight during the day instead of turning on the lights.

2 ? Find Frugal Friends

When my best friend moved away a couple of months ago I was definitely sad. But the good news is that it has been really good for my budget. My best friend is not frugal and when combined with my non-frugal tendencies, we used to spend a lot of money going out to eat and finding ways to entertain ourselves each month. Now the friends I hang out with are more frugal. We often have a weekend BBQ or potluck instead of going out to eat.

3 ? Utilize the Library

I?ve been in a book club for a couple of years now and when we first started I would buy every book we read via Amazon. In my defense, I always bought a used copy so it was significantly cheaper than buying new. ;-)However I decided last year that I would always check our local library first before buying our book club book. This saves me money, because the library is free, and it also prevents me from having any more books cluttering up my overflowing book shelves.

4 ? Cancel Things You No Longer Need

Earlier this year I was able to finally cancel my TV service at the end of my two-year contract. I was ecstatic to be saving another $60/month, especially since I hardly ever watch TV anyway.

I also canceled my magazine subscriptions last year when I realized I had a huge stack of unread magazines because they were coming in the mail faster than I could read them. To this day, I?m still making my way through that stack of unread magazines. They are already paid for so I?m not spending any more money by reading issues I?ve already received, and I?m slowly cutting down on the clutter in my home by recycling them after I?ve read them.

To me, being frugal isn?t about giving up everything you enjoy in life. Instead it?s about making easy changes to your regular routine to save money.

 

Are you frugal by nature? What easy changes have you made to be more frugal? What are some hacks you’ve employed to help you be more frugal without cutting down on your level of enjoyment?

 

Photo courtesy of: Comfreak

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

Cheap

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 Dictionary.com, 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

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?

 

 

Photo courtesy of:??Depositphotos.com/Sandralise

When Being Frugal is Cool

frugal

5170630053_1240954762_zAs a kid whenever my mom would use a coupon?at the grocery store or make me wait until my favorite jeans were on sale, I was mortified. I didn?t want others to think we weren?t able to afford things, even when technically we couldn?t. Luckily for my childhood self, my parents never made us buy used clothing from garage sales or thrift stores, though I did wear a lot of hand-me-downs from my older cousins.

The older I got, the more I cared about people?s opinions about me, my clothes, and my belongings. I didn?t know then that what I really cared about was what people thought my family could afford. Wearing name-brand clothing was definitely a symbol of wealth, although I didn?t fully understand that at the time.

Now that I?m an adult and I?m working hard to pay off my?debt, much of it from still caring too much what people think I could afford vs. what I could actually afford, I actually like using coupons at the grocery store and shopping sales whenever I need new clothes. In a way, frugal has become cool to me.

Promotion of Sales

One of the ways you can tell that frugal has become cool is how often stores promote having sales. In my opinion, there are more sales fliers, radio ads, and tv commercials than there ever were when I was growing up.

Shopping sales has become a hobby for some and they even like to brag about how much money they saved by buying things on sale. You just have to be careful to avoid sales?if they cause you to spend money you don’t actually have. 🙂

Coupons

I kind of mentioned this one already, but couponing has also changed a lot from when I was a kid. Back then hardly anyone used coupons, or so it seemed anyway. In reality, most people were using coupons when they were easily accessible to them, they just never talked about it.

These days couponing has become a pretty hot topic. There are lots of blogs and websites dedicated to teaching people how to use coupons to get the best deals, and there?s even a TLC show ?Extreme Couponers? about how people are able to feed and provide personal care products for their families for little to nothing.

DIY

Thanks to sites like Pinterest and YouTube, DIY has exploded as a trend. These days people DIY everything from home repairs to craft projects for events, making their own laundry soap, and more. People usually decide to DIY things for one of two reasons. Either they want something unique and can?t find it in a store so they decide to make it themselves, or they want to cut down on the cost of buying something or hiring a professional. Personally, I love DIY-ing as many things as possible as it gives me a reason to learn new skills and it usually saves me money too.

I?m so happy that frugal has become cool in a lot of ways. It sure makes it easier to want to be frugal and to not care as much about what people think.

 

How else do you think frugal has become cool? What is something that mortified your younger self that you do now to save money??

 

 

Photo courtesy of: Justin Jensen