How to Improve Your Life with a Frugal Lifestyle

 

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Sometimes frugal living is a choice and sometimes it isn’t (or at least not our first choice). Maybe you’ve started a family and want to be able to stay home with your children but have always relied on two incomes. Families have been struggling through economic hard times over the last few years and during that time, many people found themselves unemployed or underemployed.  It can be scary. The time to adopt the frugal lifestyle is when it is still a choice.  It gives you the opportunity to decide what’s important to you and what isn’t.

So the next question is, how do I do this? The first thing that you need to understand is that frugal living, at least for me, is the ability to be more reliant on myself and live a simpler lifestyle.  A side benefit of that is that it takes less money to do that. It’s not about going without the things you love. It’s about finding the best way to have or do the things you love.

Let me give you an example. I love cooking with fresh herbs. Fresh herbs can be pricy. My solution was to grow my own.. I didn’t do this because I can’t afford to buy them.  I did it because I don’t see the value in buying them. Not only was it a quick, easy and inexpensive project but it added a decorative element to my deck in the warmer months. I started my herb garden with plants from my local greenhouse but I could have very easily started from seed at a lower cost with the same results. Now, I have all the fresh herbs that I need and it doesn’t cost  me anything more than a little time to take care of them. Let’s take this one step further. I can grow more plants with clippings from my current plants. Now I have some lovely gifts to give. I have friends and family who love to cook and would be appreciative of this type of gift.  It makes a great hostess gift when visiting friends. The possibilities are endless. Did this change make my life better? Yes it did.  Was it a major lifestyle change. No it wasn’t. I didn’t have to give up something I loved. I just found a better way to do it.

When I decided to live a more frugal lifestyle the first thing I did was take an inventory.  What was I spending my money and my time on.  Time is just as valuable a commodity when choosing a simpler lifestyle.  The next step was to see where I could make better choices.

Start with the incidentals. Do you stop and buy coffee every morning on your way to work? Look at why. Do I stop and get that coffee because it’s my favorite part of the day or do I stop and get coffee because I don’t have time to make my own? If it’s because I don’t have time to make my own then look at why. Am I trying to get too much done in the morning? Maybe the easiest thing to cut out of the routine is making coffee to bring to work. See if there is something that you can move to the night before. If it’s the best part of your day and it’s something that you love then continue to buy your coffee on your way to work. Remember that it’s all about making choices and not about doing without. If you’re not sure which it is then why not try making your coffee every day for a week instead of stopping to buy a cup. Maybe you’ll enjoy your coffee more because you’ve made it exactly the way you like it.  Now you have one less stop to make in the morning. Think about how many times you’ve stopped for coffee and the order wasn’t right. You know exactly what you like so your coffee will be “as ordered” every day. Pick up a good quality travel mug that you can use every day. HERE  is a favorite mug of mine. You can buy the travel mug with the money you saved over that “homemade” coffee week. If you enjoy your coffee that week then continue to make it at home and throw that $10 (or whatever it is that you spend buying coffee) into your emergency fund. You’ve just grown your emergency fund by $500 a year (for other easy ways to fund your emergency fund, click HERE.) without taking anything away.

After you look at your incidentals, take a look at your regular monthly expenses. Television costs continue to rise and also continue to be a bit of a hot button. Broadcasters charge more and more so that your cable company has the ability to retransmit their programming to you. There are lots of options our there to explore. Again, you need to decide what is important to you and then find the best options our there.  Our friends at HowtoShopforFREE.net have put together some great alternatives. You can check out their finds HERE.

There are so many ways that you can make your life better through frugal living.  There are lots of other options that we can explore. These are just a couple ways to living better and being Simply Frugal.

 

 

 

 

10 Money Saving Tips that Will Reduce Your Food Waste

10 Money Saving Tips that Will Reduce Your Food Waste

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it is estimated that in this country we throw away anywhere from 20% – 40% of our food supply.  Food is one of the largest components of solid waste in our landfills. The good news is that with a few simple changes to the way we do things and think about food, we can significantly reduce the amount of food waste in our own homes.

    1. First In, First Out – Make sure that when you bring your groceries home and put them away that you are rotating your stock.  Put the new items in the back. If you put your newest items at the front of the pantry, you run the risk of the food in the back expiring before you can use it.
    2. Eat leftovers – If you’re going to make it, you’re going to eat it.  If you don’t like leftovers then adjust your recipes so that you are making just enough for the meals.  However, learn which leftovers you do like and then make enough for a second meal or to bring for lunch the next day.  Not only is this a money saver, but it’s also a time saver.
    3. Take Inventory – Before you go to the store, make sure you know what you’ve got.  I’ve been guilty of picking up a gallon of milk because I couldn’t remember how much I had left.  We don’t use a whole lot of milk in my house so if I already have a gallon one of them will surely go to waste.
    4. Store Properly – My grocery store does some amazing meat markdowns when they are getting close to the sell by date.  I get my meats for next to nothing by shopping the “manager specials”.  The key to it being a great deal though is proper storage.  Once I get home, I portion the meat out into meals and use a Food Saver to ensure that my food is properly sealed and portioned. Probably one of the biggest areas for waste is freezer burned food.
    5. Use it All – You can eat the skin on foods like potatoes and cucumbers. They are delicious and nutrient rich.
    6. Find New Uses – Maybe your bananas got a little brown. That would make an awesome banana bread.  Maybe your fruit is a little soft.  That would make a great smoothie.  Think outside the box before you toss something out.
    7. Start Canning – Did you go the Simply Frugal route and have a garden this year?  Did you end up with more fruit and vegetables than you can possible eat or share?  Can those goodies and have a taste of the garden all winter long.
    8. Donate – Periodically go through your pantry and find the items that you won’t use or are nearing their expiration date.  Food Pantries are almost always looking for donations, especially this time of year.  People always think to donate to the Food Pantry around the holidays but people are hungry all year round.
    9. Know when an Expiration Date Isn’t Really an Expiration Date – Most foods have a sell by date.  That is rarely the date that the food is no longer safe to eat.  Foods like dry pasta and canned goods are actually good for a couple years after the sell by date when stored properly.
    10. Be Conscious of What You Throw Out – Before you throw something out, write it down. At the end of the month add up what you’ve thrown out and figure out why it went to waste.  Knowledge is power. When you figure out why you threw something out you can avoid that situation in the future.

These are some very simple ways that you can reduce the food waste in your own home.  I’m sure you can come up with more if you take a few minutes and think about it.

Now that you’ve made an effort to reduce the food waste in your home, you are one step closer to Being Simply Frugal!

One Simple Way to Build Credit and Save Money

One Simple Way to Build Credit and Save Money

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Part of living a Simply Frugal Life is keeping debt to a minimum.  Credit can be a double edged sword.  It’s important to have good credit when it’s time to buy a car or house. It’s hard to establish credit without establishing debt. Here is a great way to either establish credit or rebuild damaged credit without adding debt.

Self Lender has a program  called a “Credit Builder Loan” and here are the details:

A credit builder loan is a small loan that’s held in a CD account for 12 months. The account is FDIC insured, earns 0.10% APY† interest and is deposited  in your name during the term.

The credit builder loan is designed to help you save money and establish a credit history in a safe, responsible way.

The credit builder loan offered inside Self Lender works like this:

  • Self Lender’s banking partner lends you money that is deposited in an FDIC insured, certificate of deposit bank account (“CD account”) for 12 months.
  • Next, you make 12 equal payments ($97.00)  over the course of your term to repay the credit builder loan. Payment history is reported to the credit bureaus each month.
  • At the end of the term, you’ve paid off your loan and your CD has matured (and earned interest!). Plus, you’ve demonstrated months of payment history to the credit bureaus.

There is a $12.00 Administrative Fee to set up the loan and you are paying interest (10.57%). It’s a low cost option for limited or damaged credit.

At the end of the loan term, you have $1100 plus interest.  Not only are you building your credit, but you have just established an emergency fund!

Are you ready to get started? Sign up  HERE !

Now you’re one step closer to living the Simple Life you desire.

 

 

Please note that this post may contain affiliate or referral links

A Simple How To That Will Pay Off Your Loan Quicker

A Simple How To That Will Pay Off Your Loan Quicker

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If you get paid on a bi-weekly basis (every two weeks) I’m sure you’ve planned your budget around two paychecks each month.  There are actually two months during the year when you will receive three paychecks.  It’s like having a paycheck not earmarked for anything. In our Simply Frugal Life, every dollar has its place.  Here is a suggestion that will allow you to pay off your car loan several months early.  You’ll be making extra payments that won’t seem like extra payments.

Let’s assume that you have a $15,000 car loan.  The rate is 3.9% and the term is 48 months. That would give you a monthly payment of about $340.00. When planning your budget, put aside $170.00 from each paycheck towards your car payment. Let’s assume that you make a $170.00 payment every two weeks.  When you first start doing this, make sure that your second of the two payments is before the due date of your monthly payment.  This will ensure that your payment is on time each month.  It will also avoid unnecessary late fees and interest accrual. Continue making your $170.00 payment every two weeks.  At the end of the year, you have made an extra full monthly payment. All without making any other adjustments to your monthly budget.  So, what does this mean? You will pay off your loan in 44 months instead of 48 months and save yourself $116.00 in interest.

We’ve found a quick and easy way to pay off your car loan early without making any adjustments to your budget. Now, let’s take a look at the biggest mistakes people make when taking out a car loan. Continue reading A Simple How To That Will Pay Off Your Loan Quicker

How to Make a Simple and Inexpensive Black & White Photo Wall

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Recently, I decided a small section of wall in my home needed some sprucing up. I love the look of black & white photos and find them to be impactful. One thing I don’t love is the price tag. I took a peek at a favorite online retailer. I found the price for four framed pictures to be around $50.00. I knew that I could do it myself and do it for less. I also knew that by doing it myself, it would be more personal.

I prefer candid photos for black & white but you can use whatever you like.  I  took the pictures with my iPad because of the filters available for black & white photos.

Here are a couple of the photos I used for my project. All I had to do was take my original photo and use the edit feature to turn the photo black & white.

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imageimage Continue reading How to Make a Simple and Inexpensive Black & White Photo Wall

How to Make an Awesome Herb Garden in 10 Minutes

How to Make an Awesome Herb Garden in 10 Minutes

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Container gardening is a quick and easy way to experiment with your green thumb. I love my bright, colorful flowers as a decorative element.  I also think container gardens can be functional.  An Herb Garden is a great fit. Once I had my supplies, it took less than 10 minutes to put my Herb Garden together.

Pick Your Container

Just about any type of container will work as long as it drains well. Be creative with your container choice so that it fits with your style. Terra-cotta pots are a popular choice because have a natural wicking ability. Anything will work well if it has enough holes and it drains well.

Choose the right size container.  A container that is too small will cause your plants to get root bound. A container that is too big will cause the plants to spend all their time on root production. Start with the right size container and remember as the plants grow, you wIll be using the herbs. If the herbs start to outgrow the container, you can create additional Herb Gardens with the growth or transplant the Herbs to a larger container. Continue reading How to Make an Awesome Herb Garden in 10 Minutes

4 Simple Thoughts When Setting up Your First Garden

4 Simple Thoughts When Setting up Your First Garden

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Growing up I remember my grandfather’s garden. There always seemed to be plenty of fresh, delicious vegetables. Enough for us and enough to share. My grandfather was extremely proud of his garden and regularly gave visitors a tour. Gardening wasn’t just a hobby for my grandfather but also a way to provide for his family.

Have you ever thought about starting a garden but didn’t know where to start? Have you wondered if it would be worth the cost? Are you concerned that you won’t have time to maintain your garden? Are you concerned about pesticides and other chemicals in the produce you buy ? Here are some tips for starting your garden and moving you closer to that simple lifestyle you desire. Continue reading 4 Simple Thoughts When Setting up Your First Garden

4 Simple Steps to Save Time through Better Organization

4 Simple Steps to Save Time through Better Organization

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One of the things that I hear most often is how life would be simpler with a little more time in the day.  Well, I can’t extend the day any longer than the 24 hours it already is. I can give you some thoughts about making the most of the time in that day to give the feeling of having more time.

Get yourself on a schedule or into a routine

If you enjoy watching the news or relaxing with a cup of coffee in the morning, work that into your schedule. This will set the tone for your entire day.

If mornings are busy in your home, start by looking at some of the things you may be able to move to the night before.  One time saver may be to prepare lunches the night before or pick out your clothes the night before.  This will give you a sense of order and help reduce the feeling of having too much to do in the morning. Continue reading 4 Simple Steps to Save Time through Better Organization

5 Simple Ways to Save for an Emergency Fund

5 Simple Ways to Save for an Emergency Fund

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There’s nothing worse than having a financial emergency come up and not knowing how you’re going to pay for it. More often then not, you’ll  end up paying for your emergency using a credit card or taking out a loan. These options always cost more in the long run due to the interest that you’ll be paying. Part of living a frugal lifestyle is eliminating waste and unnecessary expenses. That interest would definitely qualify as an unnecessary expense that can be eliminated by some planning ahead.

Throw your change in a jar at the end of the day

Most of us come home at the end of the day with some loose change in our pockets. Set up a jar that is in a convenient place and simply deposit your change in the jar when you get home. You’ll be shocked how quickly it adds up. Don’t be surprised if you have a couple hundred dollars or more at the end of a year. Continue reading 5 Simple Ways to Save for an Emergency Fund

5 Easy Ways to Save Time and Money on Meals

5 Easy Ways to Save Time and Money on Meals

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Meal Plan

Pick a day each week and sit down to plan your meals. Plan for all meals – Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks. Use a combination of pantry items already on hand and items that are on sale.  You will find that you’ll spend less money if you already know what you’ll be preparing for the week.

Prepare Your Lunch the Night Before

Mornings in many households can be action packed and at times rushed. If you have packed lunch the night before it’s just grab and go. If you’re running late in the morning, it’s more likely that you’ll skip the lunch prep and grab some unplanned takeout. Continue reading 5 Easy Ways to Save Time and Money on Meals