Frugality might sound like an embarrassing infection of intimate areas, but it is a valuable and much under-rated life skill. If times are generally hard, if you personally have a cashflow problem, or if you just want to save some cash for one of those 3D TVs, there are some sensible frugal habits which you can adopt right now to save some money.
This article will look at a few frugal habits which you can adopt now, without going to the extremes of washing all your windows in vinegar and newspaper.
First, food. Food should always be an essential part of your budget. You have to eat, and for the sake of your health and quality of life, you should try and eat well. Don’t compromise on the quality of the food you buy. But make your own packed lunches for work. You can save a small fortune on pre-prepared sandwiches (which are generally loaded with added salt anyway) over the course of even one week. It could add up to thousands of dollars over a full year.
Then, leftovers. People in the developed world are, by and large, incredibly wasteful of food. Now, you’ve all seen those horrible programmes where they take pan scrapings and cook them into a ‘delicious and nutritious’ meal that invariably looks like a plate full of warm sick. If that’s your bag, well, there’s no denying it’s frugal. You may however consider cooking a little bit more of your evening meal, chilling and freezing half of it, and making it last two days.
The advantages are that you are likely to exercise greater care about portion control (one of the overlooked factors in the rise of obesity), as you do not necessarily have to double the amount of food in order to get an extra meal out of a dish. Also, you will find that cooking one dish for two days works out cheaper even than cooking exactly the same dish with the same ingredients two days running. You save on staples such as cooking oil, garlic, etc, and you save on the energy needed to cook the meal (reheating the second day’s batch should not take nearly as much energy).
Your frugality in this case also saves you the most precious resource of all: time. It takes virtually the same amount of time to cook chilli con carne or lasagne whether you are making enough for four or enough for eight, and the next day you just need to fire up the microwave, all the work already done.
Bulk buying is also an excellent idea for frugal living. You don’t have to get catering packs of biscuits or other occasional items, but for staples such as rice, cooking oil, pasta, flour, sugar, salt, buy the largest pack you can carry! One 10kg sack of rice will be much cheaper than ten 1kg packets of the stuff, and of course you will not need to go shopping as often, cutting down on car journeys.
Finally on the food side of things, although the range of bottled waters available to consumers is mind-blowing in terms of prices, flavours and brands, absolutely none of them are as cheap as the water that comes out of your tap at home. Bottled water is the true Emperor’s New Clothes of our modern consumer culture, save yourself a fortune and stick to the tap.
Transport is another key area for frugality. Whenever you leave the house, just ask the following question: “Do I REALLY need to take the car?” Brisk walking is excellent exercise, and after you factor in petrol costs, parking costs and the sheer hassle of things like parking properly and finding your keys, it should be an absolute no-brainer to cut out any car journey less than a couple of kilometres.
For slightly longer journeys, still leave the car. Buy a bicycle and a rucksack for those daily grocery shopping runs, and save the car for occasions when you really need it. If you cut out one car journey a day, you will soon save the cost of a decent bike in petrol charges.
Opportunities for frugal habits you can adopt can be found in every aspect of your life, but many of them will depend on your individual circumstances. Apply the above lines of thought to your spending and you can certainly find your own frugal habits quickly!