There’s a difference between being frugal and just being cheap. I have plenty of friends that are cheap, skipping their turn to buy a round of drinks or don’t tip and we have to make up for it. No, I’m more talking about being frugal, which, in my mind means you can still enjoy what life has to offer, just maybe being smart in some areas that will add up to savings in other areas.
Have More Coming In, Not Going Out
Sure, it seems like a simple concept; spend less than you make, but for many this falls flat. If you can be in the minority that actually has a hold of their finances with a successful budget you and be sure that you have the correct allotted funds for bills, food, gas, and spending. From there you can begin to track your spending, even if it means taking the actual credit card statement and going line by line, figuring out what was a necessary expense versus an unnecessary. Where you get into trouble is when you more money is going out than coming in and you are carrying over a balance and start to pay interest.
Less is More
You do not have to look the part like you have money, when in fact no one can see your bank account, or lack of, except you. If you are carelessly spending money and flaunting it, you are the one making the payment when the statement comes due. You can earn a comfortable living with a nice new modest car lease, and clothes do not have to be premium, luxury brands, when in fact no one will know the difference if you are wearing a $8 V-neck t-shirt from Target or a $40 high-end. When it comes to what you own, less is more, especially to your bank account and saving for the future.
Turn Items Collecting Dust into Cash
Now that you are cutting back on the careless shopping, what about all of the items that you have already bought in the past and are now collecting dust someone in storage in the basement or attic? Well you can either load everything outside and have a good old-fashioned garage sale like when you were a kid, which surprisingly still pulls in a little money. You could sell on eBay or Craigslist, or if you are looking for a little tax write-off, donate to the Salvation Army and keep your receipt to get a little back around tax time.
Stick to a Grocery List
The old saying seems dated, you know, the one where you run into the grocery store for milk and bread and come with many bags and spent over $100. Well if you go without a list, it can be true just about every time, just maybe mild cases of it. The more you are free to roam around the grocery store the more likely you will be to make impulse purchases and go over what you were planning on spending. The best way to tackle the grocery store is to make a list, and stick to it.
Ease Up on the Bars and Restaurants
Now I am in no way saying that you should never go out to eat, or would I ever give the impression of being against drinking, in fact, I think eating and drinking are two fun activities. These can add up to huge spending though, so you can still enjoy, just maybe a little less and appreciate it more when you do it. If you are meeting up friends at the bar, try having a few (free) drinks at the house first, and going out to eat, eat at home first and enjoy an appetizer out, and still get that feeling of going out on the town.
Drink More Water
Water is important to being healthy, yes, but that is not entirely of what I mean when I say to drink more water. What I mean, more importantly to your finances, is ditch going to the gas station or liquor store to pick up single drinks such as energy drinks, sports drinks, sodas, and even buying bottles of water at premium prices. You can pick up a case of water for a few dollars compared to paying that for one at the store. To take it even a step further, you can ditch the bottles of water and get a large water cut and just refill from the tap (or with a filter if the tap grosses you out for some reason).