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So, you’ve decided to turn over a new leaf and live life the economical way? Good for you.
Being more conscious of your expenses is more than a huge leap forward in your financial life.
On the other hand, if you’re thoroughly ingrained to mindless spending, it may be somewhat tricky to know where to begin.
A rule of thumb about being frugal is that it’s not all about being stingy or being a cheapskate for the rest of your life. Try to be as resourceful as you can by finding the perfect opportunity to save your money.
Adjust your spending habits and prioritize the things you want in life. This will allow you to save extra cash as well as focus your career around your biggest passions. By adopting a frugal lifestyle, you also get a clear picture of what you want to do with your money.
It’s all about focusing your attention and money to the things that matter. It could be traveling the world, saving for a hustle-free retirement or a life full of financial freedom.
If you have any of these goals on your checklist, keep reading to find out the best frugal tips you can use as a beginner to save big.
1. Prioritize Your Financial Goals
Earlier on, we touched on prioritizing. Fact: it’s not easy to know how and when to prioritize any of your financial goals. Fiction: it’s not an achievable task.
As a beginner frugalist, you can do something meaningful with your life once you’ve decided on a few goals for the short term (next 30 days or so) and long term (next two years). Maybe you’re planning a family vacation as your long-term financial goal.
It’s essential to find out how much you’ll need by budgeting for your trip. Get into the specifics, including how much you’re going to spend every time you go out to dinner.
It’s also important to tie in real figures to all your goals. If possible, ensure you have a timeline that dictates how soon you’d like to accomplish all your objectives.
Being ambitious is great, but don’t set yourself up for failure by limiting yourself as far as time is concerned.
Give yourself ample time to get the right ideas and list them down. As you make a list, ensure you have a clear distinction between your wants and your needs.
Right after you sort out your physical needs – food, shelter, clothing, healthcare – proceed to divert your funds to more ‘societal’ needs.
Try tackling them one at a time or simultaneously save for all of them. Stick to whichever strategy that works out for you.
Saving for the most important goals first is a quick way to achieve them, though you’ll have to sacrifice other enjoyable goals along the way.
If your long-term saving goal is to pay your students loan early, for instance, you’ll have to do away with a few vacations for a year or so.
For each of your goals, it’s usually unclear how much you need to set aside. As long as you have a plan in place, all that’s left is to know which one to work out first and which one to leave out.
2. Analyze How You Spend Your Money
Analyzing your expenses will help you understand where your money goes every month and why you’re left with nothing by the end of the month.
If you have your credit card statement from the previous month, pull it out (or look it up online) and take notes of how you spent the money. Of course, you had a lot of expenses so categorize them into fields such as grocery store, gas, takeout, etc.
Don’t leave out even the small amounts; $2 here and there can add up to jaw-dropping amounts in less than a month.
Take note of your weak areas. For instance, if you have a soft spot for snacks and drinks each time you stop for gas, this may probably not add up.
If you get takeout lunch for three consecutive days in a week, you spend approximately $100 in just 30 days.
In short, try pinpointing the most significant financial leaks and become more and more mindful of any time you spend your money.
Do you by any chance have a budget? If you don’t have one, now’s the perfect time to draft one that goes in line with your spending habits.
Don’t make it too restrictive or complicated. Take some tips from this post to find out how to make a budget that will genuinely work out for you and get your finances in check.
3. Cut Out Unnecessary Monthly Expenses
To elaborate on the previous point, you can have a better chance of knowing where your money goes by making changes to your month-to-month expenses.
One of the most challenging tasks about being a frugalist is to figure out ways to spend less. On the other hand, one of the easiest ways to spend less is to find out the items that are eating up your budget and cut down on them.
The following are a few hustle-free tips to help you make some potential savings from your monthly income:
- Skip using your car every morning. Cars are pricey fuel guzzlers. If you live in an area with public transportation, don’t waste the opportunity to save big on maintenance, parking, and gas over time.
- Update your light bulbs by switching to either LEDs or CFLs. Both of these bulbs are approximately four times more energy efficient and last longer compared to incandescent bulbs.
- Cancel all the club memberships whose services you know you don’t use. If you use your gym membership once a week or don’t use it at all, it’s time you stopped wasting your money.
- Get rid of your cable bill. If that’s too extreme, downgrade your cable from premium to basic. Also, Premium tv has lots of commercials that tempt you to make unnecessary purchases.
- If you receive newspapers or magazines in your mailbox but probably don’t read them, don’t renew their subscriptions. Unread subscriptions are nothing more than costly clutter.
- Get rid of your landline. This being the 21st century, everyone is bound to have a cell phone. Cutting your landline can save you up to $35 each month.
4. Prepare Your Meals at Home
Making a habit of skipping hotels and restaurants can save you hundreds of thousands of dollars every month.
What happens when you’re used to savoring the taste of outside food every other night? Well, it’s going to be difficult having to plan for meals and cook from scratch every night, but it’s worth looking into.
Based on statistics by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average consumer spends up to $ 3,000 annually on outside eateries. If you’re reading this thinking that you don’t spend this much, you’re on track to spending even more if you keep eating out.
We’ll not look into detailed examples of how much you can spend every week or month, but what you can do to cut costs. First things first: start by stocking your kitchen with staples such as spices, flour, and oil.
When you have the basics, you’ll notice that the grocery shopping won’t cost you as much. Look up some straightforward, low-cost, and healthy recipes online for meals you can prepare in your kitchen.
Cook just enough to fit approximately 2-3 meals. If there are any leftovers, reheat them to eat later on or the next day. This will go a long way in getting rid of food waste and save you up to $1,000 each year.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day – that we know. What we don’t know is that sandwiches (the freezer-friendly ones) are more satisfying and cost-effective compared to meals you grab on your way to work.
Make it a habit to have all three of your meals at home. Make a meal plan for the entire week. There are apps to help you with that coupled with lots of meal plan templates.
5. Have Fun the Frugal Way
When you need some form of fun in your life, your first instinct will be to resort to costly entertainment options. Very rarely does frugal and fun end up in the same sentence, or does it?
Even when you’re on a budget, it’s essential to have fun and relax. That can be tough, though. Staying indoors can be repetitive and boring, so much so that you may be tempted to break your budget to ‘enjoy yourself a bit’ at the end of a stressful week.
To have fun, you don’t have to break the bank. The following are a couple of engaging frugal activities you can do alone, on a date or with friends.
Soak in the Fresh Outdoor Air
The outdoors has always been an excellent place to spend some free time, either alone or with a loved one.
Pack some tasty delectable for a picnic and head on to the nearby lake, public beach or local park. None of these will cost you a single cent.
If your city has some hiking trails or greenways, take a refreshing stroll without having to pay any transportation fees.
Host a Movie Night or Book Club
Either of these is ideal for when you have a couple of friends coming over for an evening of fun. If you’re used to going out to the movies, why not bring the movies to your humble aboard?
Choose a theme for every month and pick out movies or books that center on that particular theme. To avoid spending a ton on food and drinks, make the gathering a potluck.
Go on a Vacay During the Off Season
If it’s in your nature to go vacationing at some point in your holiday, consider doing it during the offseason.
Different vacation spots have varying peak traveling times. It’s up to you to do your research and find out the off-season for the place you intend on visiting. Doing this will save you hundreds, if not thousands worth of airfare as well as accommodation.
Try Your Hand at Parkour
Parkour is an athletic activity in the form of an obstacle course in which you have to find the quickest route from one point to the next.
You can do it pretty much anywhere there’s open space – at the park, your backyard or anywhere around your home. Parkour is a fun activity that also boosts your mind and body coordination.
Other fun activities you can do on your own or engage your friends/family include: learning how to cook, camping around a fire in the weekends, attend free concerts around your area, revisit some past photos or even hosting a karaoke night at your home. The fun doesn’t always have to go hand in hand with money.
As you try out any of these activities, you’ll notice that you don’t need to splurge to have a memorable time with those closest to you.
6. Always Know When to Indulge Yourself and When to Sacrifice
Becoming a frugalist doesn’t mean saying ‘no’ to every good thing that comes your way. It also doesn’t mean that you have to say ‘yes’ to all the cheap stuff.
To achieve a successful frugal lifestyle, understand your priorities and stick to them. You probably realize that saving is indeed a huge part of any financial plan; the spending part, however, isn’t always as clear as it ought to be.
No one can tell you when you’re supposed to spend and when to keep your money locked up. It’s up to you to take a closer look at whatever expense that comes your way and determine whether or not it’s a ‘need’ or a ‘want’.
If you choose to splurge on a ‘want’ item, at least pick out those that give you a higher utility over those that don’t give you a sense of satisfaction.
The balance in your bank account should also dictate your spending habits. Typically, your budget will seek out opportunities on when to spend and when to save.
The $20 bill in your pocket is, most likely, already accounted for. Alternatively, if you’ve already exceeded your savings goals, there’s no harm in treating yourself.
Before handing out your cash or swiping your card before making any purchase, think about any other available alternatives.
For example, you can afford a pair of shoes, but it’s probably cheaper to find a similar pair online at a lower price.
Creative brainstorming often cuts expenses, thereby providing a sense of compromise between spending and saving. See how any purchase you make fits into your already-planned-out financial future.
7. Save Money by Using the Best Smartphone Couponing Apps
Frugality is all about taking up the chance to save wherever you can. When grocery shopping, you can save lots of cash by couponing.
Couponing is one thing; extreme couponing is another. The latter takes up a lot of energy. You’ll have to fumble through past newspapers, clip only the best deals and wait at the checkout for them to scan.
If you have a full-time job and you’re busy most of the time, you probably don’t have the time to go through newspapers or the internet for available coupons. Here’s where coupon apps come in.
There are tons of them on your phone’s app store; It may be somewhat confusing to pick out the best couponing apps with the best features.
To save you the hustle, here’s a comprehensive list of ten of the best (and free) couponing apps you should be having on your smartphone right now:
If you’re keen on saving money each time you go grocery shopping, couponing apps are the way to go.
These apps can effectively and efficiently save you money on several purchases. They can also help you in keeping your hard-earned cash.
8. Save Money (and Time) By Engaging in More DIY Projects
How often do you make or fix your own stuff? You may not make such a good handyman or worse still, you’re not proficient with any activity that requires you to use your hands, other than typing.
That shouldn’t be a deterrent from engaging your mind and reverting your energy to any do-it-yourself project that comes your way. When it comes to any money-related matter, you should learn how to rely on your craftsmanship once in a while.
Though the labor cost is one reason to do it, there are also factors to put into consideration. For one, once you’ve gotten the hang of doing things on your own, you’ll understand why certain high-priced services or products are so costly.
Once you become aware of this, you automatically know how to pick out what matters to you and save money by doing it yourself.
Take a significant project like home remodeling. One of the major expenses involved in such a project are the appliances.
There may be a considerable price difference between high-end and ultra-high-end products. If you have a clear understanding of which one will work out for you, you won’t have to pay extra for someone to buy it for you.
Another great thing about a do-it-yourself project is the satisfaction that comes along with it. When you’re okay with the outcome of your project, you’ll be inclined to spend little or nothing for similar projects in the future.
The more you do it, the better you become at it. In the long run, you can end up using your skill as a way to make more money. Learning more than one ability increases your chances of making even more money.
9. Once in a While, Reward Yourself
You’ve done all there is to do in the most economical way possible – logged your transactions, paid down debt, created zero-based budgets – and you managed to save up for emergencies.
You should pat yourself on the back and what better way to do so than by rewarding yourself. Reward yourself in such a way that you don’t need to bust your budget doing so.
When the word ‘reward’ pops up, the next thing that comes to mind is money – and lots of it. Don’t think twice about appreciating your wise financial decisions because you think you’ll need to spend more.
There are tons of ways to notice your efforts; some can even go for as little as five bucks or less. For instance, take a day off and visit your once-frequented coffee shop and buy yourself a cup or two.
With each sip of the coffee, you will notice that it tastes a whole lot better as a treat and not a costly daily routine.
Alternatively, you can take the bold step of buying yourself something worthy of your accomplishment. What you choose to treat yourself with should be simple and of course, inexpensive. Think about something you love.
Buy yourself something that will serve you not only for the short term but for the long term as well. If you love cooking, buy yourself that $15 kitchen equipment you’ve always had your eye on.
If you love running, go get yourself a new pair of trainers for your daily running routine. Also, be creative (and not expensive) when picking out a reward for yourself.
There you go — nine simple tips for any frugal beginner out there. Being frugal is one of the best ways to challenge yourself to something positive you never thought you’d ever accomplish.
Keep in mind that frugality is all about making adjustments to your daily routine that will become habits fast.
Take note of every change you’ve made every month to your lifestyle to know if you’re changing your life for the better. Also, try and have fun while being frugal so that it doesn’t turn out boring and monotonous. In the long haul, you’ll realize that every adjustment you’ve made is worth it.