Living frugally has become a way of life for many. Learning the difference between wants and needs has become the norm for many. How to distinguish the difference is the trick to simple living. When deciding to make a difference in your lifestyle there are certain steps to take to ensure you reach your goal. Living frugally doesn’t mean having to give up everything you desire it simply means learning to live within your means.
The first step to living a simpler life is to ask yourself if the simple life is something you can life with. Look around you and see if you can honestly answer yes to that question. If your used to high maintenance then living a simple life may seem boring and you may lose interest fast. You may have to train yourself to accept the way of living a simpler,and more frugal life.
Some people are being thrust into the frugal life due to employment downsizing and the loss of employment opportunities. Don’t despair as surviving this downward trend is possible and it may free you from the stress of everyday life in the long run.
So where do you start when deciding on the simple life? With so many losing their homes due to foreclosure, they are then opting for smaller homes. This will free up the cost of maintaining a larger home and less money spent on utility bills each month. This creates less of a financial burden on the family. Take a look at the amount of money to maintain your living space and see if you really need that much room. Perhaps a smaller home is in your future.
With money getting tighter, a family conversation to discuss the difference between wants and needs may be in order. While a child may want a $150 pair of shoes or a $40 pair of jeans from a store in the mall, the realization that the family can not afford such items during this time needs to be addressed. There are stores that offer clothes at a discount. Resale stores are a great place to buy the clothes your children will wear. Consignment stores are another place to find reasonable priced clothing. As for the expensive shoes many stores like Payless have great looking shoes at bargain prices. They can get one pair at regular price and a second pair at half price. Many of their friends will be shopping in the same places as they will since the economy is in such dire straits. Garage sales are another great way to save on children’s items. Many times the clothes are still in new condition but the children have simply out grown them.
The need is to plan within a budget and stay there. If you need help putting together a budget simply google the phrase “setting up a budget ” in your search engine and there are numerous sites to choose the right budget for you. A couple of sights to try are www.about.com and www.msn.com/money, both offer articles on setting up a budget. When setting up a budget remember to add funds for entertainment or you may find yourself bored and give up.
Feeding the Family
Going to the grocery store can be one of the family’s biggest expense, especially if you are used to impulse buying. Grocery stores love people who impulse shop. The way around this is to make a menu and shopping list before you go shopping. Clip coupons and never go shopping when you are hungry. Allow for snacks and sweets on your list but instead of buying an already made cake, buy a box of cake mix and make it at home. You can make a cake for $2 (cake mix and icing included) which will save you at least $15 when buying a store made decorated cake. Buy sale items and stock up on non perishable foods. Freeze meats you find on sale and buy the larger packages then divide them when you get home before freezing them.
Plan on eating at home and taking homemade lunches to work. Each stop at a fast food restaurant can cost upwards of $5 to $10. If you eat dinner out it can run anywhere from $20 and more. Use that money to stock your refrigerator with food. You’ll be surprised at the amount of food those dollars spent eating out can buy for the family.
If you drive through the local coffee shop each morning consider making coffee at home. Save the trips to the coffee shop as a treat just like the trips to a restaurant, the experience is more enjoyable if you only eat out occasionally or stop for coffee once in a while.
Try renting a movie when it comes out as a new release instead of going to a movie theater. A new rental is $3 to $3.50 while a trip to a theater can cost from $10 to $15 a person. Once in a theater the establishment is banking on you spending for refreshments. Make popcorn and snacks at home to eat while watching a movie. This is another great way for the family to reconnect and simplify your life.
Set up game nights with other families who also are opting for a simpler life. You may start a trend in your neighborhood.
Visit the local libraries, museums and parks as a way to beat the boredom from the down time you experience once you simplify your life. Check out the free activities in your community. There are many activities going on, so watch your local newspapers.
Learning to Live Frugally
When you decide to live the simpler life and to live frugally, it may take some research on how to do this. The Internet is filled with pages by people who live the frugal lifestyle. Simply enter frugal or frugal living in your search engine and you’ll be amazed all the responses you’ll get. Scour a few of these sites and adjust your lifestyle to the things that are right for you. There is a website called www.frugalliving.com that has wonderful ideas and solutions to living the simpler life.
Living a simple frugal life isn’t about depriving yourself of all life has to offer, it simply means taking advantage of all life has to offer without running yourself into the poor house.