Frugal Living Made Easy


frugal livingFrugal Living – As Easy as You Want it to be

Frugal living is all about making informed and deliberate choices in how to spend money. In other words, frugality allows me to get more value for my hard earned dollar and who wouldn’t want that? Do I spend hours cutting coupons or drive to the next county to save $2.50?  Of course not. There is a misconception that frugality is time consuming and inflexible.  My answer to that is it’s your life, make it what you want.  So how can Frugal Living be made easy?

  • Start with a Plan – Like any important task in life you need a plan. What are your personal and financial goals? Write them down on paper and revisit them often. If you earn $35,000 a year, a beach home is probably not in the cards for you so be honest with yourself when setting goals. If you find your income is not sufficient to fund your goals, number 1 on your list should be to acquire the education and training necessary to boost your income. The sacrifice required to obtain those skills is huge but so is a life of struggling to pay your bills. If you don’t have a plan for achieving your dreams, how are you going to get there?
  • Allocate Resources – In short, create a budget. Budgeting has a negative connotation and I’m not really sure I understand why. Perhaps it is because it involves setting limits on spending or forces one to confront inadequate income. It is a very simple process that can be the difference between achieving your goals or not.  If your goal is to retire early you better know how much money you will need to save each month. There are many free websites and apps that make budgeting easy so there really isn’t a reason to not have a budget.
  • Spend Smart –  If you didn’t know before reading this article, you now know that budgeting can be an easy process. The next step is to follow the budget. How hard can that be? As difficult as you care to make it! If you have $50 left in the food budget you have two options: 1) Prepare inexpensive meals or 2) Spend the money. Use price comparison sites like Pricegrabber or Smartphone apps like RedLaser to quickly and easily find the best deals. Technology gives consumers unprecedented bargaining power, so take advantage of the savings.
  • Re-evaluate Priorities – If you find you are spending more in one category than you planned take some time to look at your purchases and the reasoning behind them. If you enjoy eating out or traveling, look for areas where you can cut back on spending. You and your family will decide what your spending priorities are, and the will change over time.

Frugal Living is all about how we spend money and not what we spend the money on.  You can live a frugal lifestyle and still buy the things that are important to you. You can have just as much fun going to a free concert in the park as spending hundreds of dollars on a concert at the local performing arts venue.  Only you can decide if the concert means more to you than other spending priorities. By following a plan, you can have the lifestyle you desire and achieve your long-term goals.

Readers: How do you balance daily lifestyle choices with saving for future goals?

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31 Responses to Frugal Living Made Easy

  1. krantcents 06/01/2012 at 7:57 pm #

    I put my savings on automatic with a payroll deduction. I then live on what is left. It simplifies my life and gives me the discipline to make sure I save.

    • Paul 06/01/2012 at 8:22 pm #

      So do I KC, can’t imagine doing it any other way!

  2. Vincent Turner - Planwise 06/01/2012 at 6:50 pm #

    Great article, I think sometimes it takes a period where you are forced to live frugally to adopt new behaviors (as I have found out in the last 12 months!), that’s certainly what happened with me anyway!

    • Paul 06/01/2012 at 8:22 pm #

      There are different levels of frugality and each of us needs to find what lifestyle is comfortable for us. You can live frugally and still enjoy nice things! Thanks for stopping by Vincent!

  3. Maggie@SquarePennies 06/02/2012 at 3:21 am #

    I like to say we have a Plan B, a Plan C, and a Plan D. We know we can go to any of them as needed. No one can anticipate everything, but we can be a bit flexible.

    • Paul 06/02/2012 at 4:02 am #

      You are way ahead of most people Maggie, including myself! It must give you great comfort knowing you are prepared for just about anything!

      • Maggie@SquarePennies 06/02/2012 at 4:16 am #

        I does give me comfort and I can sleep at night. But anybody can do this if they just sit down and think about some “what if’s.” The important thing is to start thinking about it.

  4. Jeff @ Sustainable Life Blog 06/01/2012 at 8:36 pm #

    I cant say enough about the importance of a plan. Not having one has totally tossed my life upside down during this last few months and its cost me quite a bit of money

    • Paul 06/02/2012 at 3:17 am #

      It’s not possible to have a plan for every situation however, having an idea what plan B would be if things go south is a good idea. Really sorry to hear about your trouble Jeff! Let me know if there is anything that I can do!

  5. Daisy @ Add Vodka 06/02/2012 at 3:52 pm #

    I try to cut out the expenses that don’t give me joy. For instance, parking. I have to pay for parking at work if I want to park in the work parking lot. But I can park 6 blocks away and walk for 10 minutes and save $4.50/day.

    With $4.50/day, I can easily go out for dinner and drinks with a friend each week (which gives me joy), pay for a movie with my boyfriend (joy), or put it toward my retirement fund (future joy).

    • Paul 06/02/2012 at 10:21 pm #

      $4.50 for dinner and drinks! I want to eat where you eat!

  6. SB @ One Cent At A Time 06/03/2012 at 7:56 pm #

    This is ever tricky question. No clear answer except that do as per your choice with the aim of spending less than you earn. And have targeted saving.

    • Paul 06/04/2012 at 11:46 pm #

      That’s why we call it Personal Finance ;) Each of us needs to figure out a balance between spending and saving that allows us to live as we wish.

  7. AverageJoe 06/06/2012 at 7:04 pm #

    I try to spend as little money as possible on things that don’t matter each week so I can go big on expenses that I will appreciate.

    BTW, I’ve forgotten to say this before, but sweet new layout.

  8. Kevin Mzansi 06/13/2012 at 9:28 pm #

    I like the last point – in the end it is all about priorities. If there is a big enough “why”, the “how” will appear. Daily lifestyle choices are easy to balance when there is an important enough prize at the end.

  9. tj@obama student loan 07/07/2012 at 4:40 am #

    when the first time i decided to acquire education to boost my income, It was really hard to change the lifestyle. I like to eat in cafe , watch movies but i can not do that to often now. At the time It really makes me feel frustrated but now i used to live like this and i started to enjoy it

  10. Jose 02/11/2013 at 5:29 am #

    Creating a budget and then following it are probably two of the most important aspects of PF. Creating a budget is relatively easy (IMHO) following it can be a bit harder and really does require a great deal of self discipline!

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