Just send $19.95 and we will send you our fantastic e-course. . .. .
Just kidding. . .You thought I was channeling one of those infomercial dudes for a minute there didn’t you?
Since I am away at yet another conference this week (Blog World Expo in Las Vegas) I thought I’d give you this great “Best of” that I originally published almost a year ago.
I hate to break this to you, but becoming frugal is going to take some time, thought and effort on your part. you can’t just send me $19.95 and be on your way
Every person, every family, every situation is so individual. There just isn’t a one size fits all solution. I can’t just list a series of steps that, once implemented, will lead you to instant frugality and happiness (because we ALL know that frugality and happiness are linked!).
What I can do is teach you some techniques that will help you on your frugal journey. You know what the great thing about a technique is? It doesn’t cost you anything.
Technique 1 Be conscious of your spending
Before you can get control of your money and start living the frugal life, you really need to figure out where your money is going. You may think you have a good general feeling for where your money is going, but chances are you are missing some “leaks”. And those little leaks add up to a lot. I’ve discussed the “latte factor” before-how a cup of coffee a day on the way to work can add up to a whopping $453.60 a year! The same is true of that candy bar, lunch out, cigarettes, a couple of drinks on a Friday night, or that weekly trip to the craft store “just to look”
One great way to be conscious of your spending is to spend a couple of weeks writing down every time you spend money. Try it-you might be surprised by what you see.
Technique 2 Consider Priorities
If you are going to be more frugal, you are not going to be able to have or do everything you want. You need to spend some time really thinking about your priorities. What things in life mean the most to you, and which-while perhaps enjoyable-are not as important. This is such an individual thing. What is a priority to one person may seem like a useless extravagance to another! That is OK. Once you know your priorities you can make thoughful decisions based on them.
Let me give you a few concrete examples from my life.
When Yankee Bill and I were newlyweds, we were both working full time as officers in the Army. Our cars were paid off, we were saving money, and we didn’t have a mortgage. We enjoyed spending time quite frequently meeting friends for dinner at local restaurants and watching movies almost weekly. I accumulated quite a large paperback book collection as I read my way through the recent releases. YB bought a Road King and tricked it out with all the shiny bits that motorcycles seem to require
Then came kids, and I left the service to raise them. Suddenly we had some choices to make. Not only did we have less time, but we had less money. What were our priorities, and how could we accommodate them.
In our case we made the following decisions.
We rarely go out to eat or to the movies anymore, maybe once every two months or so. Although we enjoy the time together, enjoy tasty food and think it is important to have a “date” occasionally,it isn’t a priority. I enjoy cooking and can cook tasty food at home, and am quite happy to watch movies on the couch with my sweetie.
I now get 100% of my pleasure reading books from the library. I still get the enjoyment of the book, but for a fraction of the cost. I would say for no cost, but I do get the occasional late fine. . . I’m happy to pay it! Libraries are fantastic and deserve the money.
Yankee Bill is now up to 2 Harley’s, and I have a little used Honda Rebel that I re-took the rider’s course for last fall. Yankee Bill LOVES riding his motorcycles. There is something about the freedom, the ride & the wind that just bring him a great deal of joy-and actually peace. Motorcycling is actually how he got his nickname. When we lived in the south (Huntsville Alabama Y’all) there were two guys named Bill in our motorcycle club. Since my Bill was from the north, folks started calling him Yankee Bill to differentiate.
As you can see, these are extremely individual choices. Someone else might be a huge foodie and just love going out to eat, but decide that having a new car and a new TV are no where near as important to them. Loving motorcycles, loving eating out, loving pretty clothes, none of these are BAD things inherently. The point is not to stop doing everything you enjoy, but rather to make sure that you are consciously choosing to have your money go into the areas you enjoy while conserving everywhere else.
Technique 3 Differentiate between wants and needs
want: desire: feel or have a desire for; want strongly
need: a condition requiring relief; anything that is necessary but lacking
At the most basic, our needs are food & shelter. Take that a little farther for our current society and you could flesh it out to food, shelter, climate control (ie heat or AC), transportation and communication.
There are many ways to meet each of these needs-and that’s where the difficulty comes in. Transportation is a need for most of us these days-a very small percentage of the population lives where they can walk to take care of their every need. But there are many forms of transportation. Lets face it, both a beat up 1989 Subaru and a 2009 Mercedes will get you where you are going. . . at what point do you pass need and turn into a want.
This area is one of the biggest challenges for me. I am rather like a crow. I like bright, shiny pretty objects. Because of this I really have to ask myself the following questions when I find something that I just “NEED!”
- Do I have something else that does the same thing?
- Did I know I “Needed” this item before I saw it in the store?
- How often would I really use it?
- How much would it really improve my life to use it, and is that amount of improvement really worth the amount I’d pay for it?
Technique 4 Delay Gratification
This one is so easy, and yet so hard at the same time. Simply put-Stop!
I know this is easier said than done. Everything around you from the moment you walk into a retail establishment is aimed at separating you from your hard earned cash. So be strong and resist. Think honestly about it-do you really need whatever it is right this very minute? I know you are busy, and maybe you won’t be back to the store for a while, and, and, and. . .
But if you are at all suspicious that an item is a want rather than a need then gently place it back on the shelf and walk away. It is amazing how many times that item that you just couldn’t live without turns out to be something your really didn’t need at all.
Or maybe you do need it, but you realize you don’t need it right away and you can be patient. Good things come to those who wait! You may be able to find it cheaper online, on eBay, a yard sale, be given one by your grandmother (grandmas have 2 of everything) or catch it on sale!
Technique 5 Get Creative
When I was in the Army they used to talk about thinking “outside the box”. I never really knew what or where the box was. . .but I got the general idea. Try to think about solutions in unusual ways.
Thinking creatively is a skill, the more often you do it, the more easily it comes! Some examples of out of the box thinking:
My friend needed to pour gas into his lawn mower, but had lost the spout to the gas can. There were some 2 liter soda bottles waiting to be recycled so he cut the top off and used it as a funnel for the gas.
Many of the recipes in my cooking arsenal are written for “Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts”. I liberally substitute other chicken parts, turkey and occasionally ham-depending on whats cheapest.
Princess was taking dance lessons last year. Right before the recital they decided all the girls need to have black ballet slippers. Of course ours were pink. I used shoe dye and a sharpie to transform the shoes we already had.
And there you have it, 5 techniques that will help you to become more frugal. Do you think I’ve forgotten a technique? Have you used any of these successfully? I’d love to know.