It is officially cool to be frugal and there are more ways than ever to have a comfortable and cheaper living style. There are the old standards, such as making a basic spreadsheet that lists all of the monthly expenses and bills, then using it as a guide, a record and a motivational tool. More old standards include less eating out and planning ahead for trips that require burning that expensive gas.
But there are some interesting and unique ways to be frugal that change our ways of thinking about spending. Sometimes our logic gets us into troubles that eventually bust the budget.
Eat the expensive meals at home!
Clark Howard came up with a novel idea. He suggests that we cook and enjoy the expensive dishes at home, then go to the restaurants for the experience, the ambiance and the cheaper menu items! Also, learning to cook or to make simple lunches from fresh and favorite ingredients is destined to be more enjoyable and cheaper than even a fast food special. Why go to a restaurant for a basic sandwich when it takes little time and is much cheaper to make an even better one at home? If wilted lettuce and soggy bread is the problem, keep the ingredients separate, then assemble them when ready to eat!
Taking a homemade lunch even three times a week will put a big dent in that costly work lunch budget. Food Network is a great resource with tons of ideas for easy to prepare lunches.
Some clutter is not clutter!
Yes! Some of our “clutter” includes items that we might not use very often. So we get rid of them and then buy new ones when we need them. Examples include tools, hanging wire, office supplies, sewing items and various items for attaching one thing to another. A sturdy set of plastic drawers or a good storage tub is just fine for corralling and tucking away these rarely used but costly items. Even a set of old clothes and shoes that were headed for the dumpster will come in handy when a painting or other messy project comes up. And at least one older cell phone can be reactivated when the newer model goes missing.
Enjoy thrift and discount shopping!
It might be a little known fact that some major department stores and well off individuals will donate brand new stuff to the thrift stores. Even if the item is only gently used, some very good items can be found while helping out a charity at the second hand, consignment and thrift shops. If a clothing item is used, make sure to wash it or have it cleaned and pressed before wearing.
At the new and brand name item level, a weekly visit to the 99 cent stores and Big Lots will reveal some excellent brand name and other specials that a frugal shopper will appreciate.
The twisted list!
Instead of generalized thinking about controlling the impulse to buy “things”, make a complete list of those desirable “things” that you plan or want to buy. We tend to think that if we do not make a list, then we will not think about those things. But a twisted list does the opposite and will put those “things” into an organized and real form that will help with impulse buying.
When that huge pile of desired “things” is put into clear visual form, it is much easier to remove things from that list, to put of some of them off for the future or at least help us to find out how we are being somehow compelled or motivated to buy things.
More twisted lists!
Whether shopping, travelling, helping with a major event, moving or making any major change in life, make lists of everything that is needed and wanted. A spreadsheet will help to sort the items into categories of essential, important, good to have and pure indulgence. And yes, even an indulgent item or two can be identified and included in the budget.
Lists help to prevent last minute shopping for missed, forgotten or impulse items. It costs a lot more to dash (under incredible stress) to the nearest store for an ingredient or tool than it does to buy that item as part of an organized shopping session. When travelling, we know that those camera batteries will cost a lot more at the tourist shop than they would at home. Lists are easy to make and they do help!
In summary, there are more new and creative ideas about frugal living than ever before. The About.com Frugal Living section is another resource that has page after page of ideas and concepts that help us to change our ideas, thought processes and minds about being consumers and spending money. Frugal Living has ideas that we never would have known or thought of, with “coupon stacking” as a great example.
But in the end, it is our thought processes that can be challenged, our educations that can be enhanced and our habits that can be changed to allow a good transition to a wonderful, full and frugal lifestyle!