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.