Being frugal is an asset in these difficult times, but for the novice it can be difficult to know where and when to cut on luxuries. This article is a compilation of tips to help you welcome frugality into your life.
First of all, you need an invaluable tool: your brain. Yes, sitting down and reflecting on what you really need can go a long way in saving you money. Not knowing what you want leads you to impulse buying, which is more about satisfying whims than needs. So, take paper and a pen and settle to make one of those old fashioned lists.
We all need to eat, but do we need to eat out every other day? The answer is no. It is not good for our health, and it certainly is not good for our wallet. Stay at home and learn to prepare good meals from scratch. You can take turns with a friend to cook and eat at each other’s home. It will be like eating out, but without the bill at the end.
Grocery shopping is maybe the area where planning is most important, since it takes a huge part of your budget. Always plan your meals and do not leave home without a grocery list. Once at the shop, look for generic brands, they are usually the same quality at a lower price. Also, take advantage of sales and coupons, but only on products that you would buy anyway. And stock on them. Sales usually have 12-week cycles, so if you can buy what you need for three months, you will be set until the next one.
Back home, remember to cook double: one for you and one for the freezer. It will keep you from going out or buying convenience food on those busy, exhausting days. If there are leftovers, do not dump them. At the very least, keep them in a jar in the freezer for soup starters. Research recipes you can make for leftovers as well. Do not waste.
No, this is not about learning to sew although that is a very useful skill to have. It is about planning. Yes, again. A sensible selection of the clothes you need for different tasks is all you need to start saving. Choose quality over quantity, and create your wardrobe around two or three neutral colours which combine easily. That way you are not only saving money, but also saving yourself mind-numbing decisions every morning. Colourful accessories will jazz up your style without dulling your checkbook.
Using different clothes for different jobs is also a sensible idea. When you arrive home, change into play clothes to keep your good ones from staining. If you have to do some hard job around the house, such as painting or spring cleaning, get your shabbiest clothes so you will not worry about having to dump them at the end
These are only two ways you can begin to save money. The lesson here is to get resourceful and being able to manage with less. You can then apply this skill to any expenses: utilities, cars, home, medical needs…etc.