The frugal mindset is not about doing without although that is part of it from time to time. They say it takes about a month to create a habit and that is what frugal living is about, creating habits that help you not only to make your budget but also to build wealth into your future. Let’s look at some habits that we have adopted in order to live the frugal lifestyle.
- Being purposeful in your spending. This simply means thinking about what you are doing, why you are spending and how you could possibly spend less or not at all! A good example is stopping at the convenience store for a gas and buying drinks and snacks as well. This seems like a pretty innocuous activity but things like this can blow your budget and fast! If you spend $7 a day on each day of the week that is $1820 per year! That is a great deal of money. We all have to eat and drink so I don’t expect this to never happen because we all forget our lunch or are hungry so I’m not saying that you never buy anything at the convenience store but to be mindful of that spending. By purchasing a case of your favorite drink for work and then making your own snacks (think a batch of cookies or muffins) you could save yourself some significant cash! Sometimes it is the little things that get us day by day that seem small but when added altogether are really doing us in.
- Comparing Prices. Whether it be a stop off for gas or buying a bed you will want to be comparing prices when you are making purchases. This is another habit that can help you to make that budget. We all do it, you walk in the grocery store with a meal plan and you buy the ingredients but those things are not on sale and you just spent more money than you needed to. Generally, I take out my sales flyer and base my meals off of what is on special or even better on what I already have and then just need a few ingredients for.
- Saving for Big Purchases. Savings was a hard thing for us to do early in our marriage. I always felt there was nothing left to save but we did it anyway when we purchased this house. Saving the $5000 we needed for the down payment (this was back in 1990’s) seemed a daunting goal but somehow we managed to do it. If you need a new bed, a new couch or whatever it is much better to save for that purchase then to take out credit to buy it. A costly mistake is looking at just the monthly payment for the couch or tv rather than the total that you would be paying. I saw an add for a rent to own 47″ TV for only 19.99 a week. Seems like a good deal right? The total purchase price on this tv by the time you own it would be $2078.96. You can buy a TCL 48 inch 1080 Roku Smart LED TV from Amazon for $329 !! You could pick up an extra couple shifts and earn this in no time at all!
4. Basic Money Management. This is NOT a skill we are born with and learning money management is one of the best ways to ensure you are successful. Someone recently said to me “But by getting the new job with a big raise, I thought I would have enough”. It turns out this person was thinking that with all this money they wouldn’t have money problems but they spent every single penny of that new raise and then some because they had this perception that they were doing so well. So, what does “Financial Independence” mean to you? Once you define what that is you have to take responsibility to make that a reality because no one can accomplish that but yourself. You will need to create a budget and stick to it. This might mean creating a budget for the month and then evaluating at the end of the month how well you did and then making a whole new budget. Yes it takes time, isn’t it worth the investment though. Here are some great resources for you to check out.
2. MoneySKILL at AFSA Education Foundation. http://afsaef.org/
3. UCIrvine Distance Learning Free Course http://cat.ocw.uci.edu/oo/getPage.php?course=AR0102092&lesson=001
4. CollegeInColorado.org Money Management Course http://www.cicmoney101.org/Course-Catalog/Money-Management.aspx
5. Money Management Internationational has webcasts you can watch on all sorts of topics from Financial Aid Advice to Budgeting etc. https://www.moneymanagement.org/Financial-Education.aspx
I am sure there are more available, the point is for a little bit of your time you can learn more about how to manage your money, the tools are there for you!
5. Planning Ahead. I am a planner, I don’t know when or how I got this skill but I just plan. I am always thinking in every situation about the best way to approach it. It can be having an outing with my grandchildren or the week ahead for work. My eldest once told my youngest daughter that if she brings a problem to me that I will plan it all out what she needs to do! That is true, I will. You can learn this skill too, though. It kind of goes back to being purposeful. So if I am going on an outing with my grandkids I am sure to pack a snack, drink, diapers, sweater……whatever I might need while we are out so I don’t have to spend needlessly. I don’t commute to work anymore because I work from home but when I did, I packed my lunch, I filled my gas tank on my day off (this kept me from buying snacks or coffee when I was there) and I made my own coffee and put it in a travel mug instead of buying one.
5. Doing without! I think this is the hardest thing to get used to doing and that is for a time doing without something. This comes down to needs and wants. You might want a new outfit but you really don’t need one and can likely put together a nice outfit that is different right from the things you already have! I have to admit this is the thing I struggled with in years past. I learned how to fix many things from sewing up tears, getting out stains in clothes, replacing my car’s air filter, and once I took one of dress shirts and reworked it into a shirt for my daughter. She had to have a white shirt for the concert and I just didn’t have any money to buy one. There is a wonderful resource called YouTube. When I learned electrical wiring it was with a screwdriver in one hand and a Time Life book in the other. Nowadays you can probably find the directions on how to fix just about anything! What a great resource. USE IT. So if you think you need a new couch because the springs are going just look it up! You can probably tip that thing over and fix that thing in no time flat. Then you can take the time you need to save for a new one!