Frugal 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?