10 Things Frugal People Do (Part 1)

budget-savings-danaleighjones-dana lee jones - simpleWe can all agree that managing our finances is not always easy. Sometimes we need a little reminder of what direction we are supposed to be heading. Sometimes we need a reminder or an idea of how we can be saving more money for a better financial future.

I like to think I grew up learning frugality. I know that I am frugal, regardless of how I arrived here. I don’t mean I have arrived and know it all; I certainly do not know it all! But for lack of a better term, I’ve arrived at being cheap. Plain and simple. Regardless being frugal or needing to learn it, I hope some of these tips will help you toward your next financial goal.

Don’t buy anything at the store that you can make at home for cheaper. Now the list of things you can make at home for cheap is seemingly limitless, so you have to know your personal limits. I work full time and have chosen a rather busy lifestyle, so there are some things I need to buckle down and learn…when I have time. However, with our loose “no spending rule” going on right now, I’ve learned how to make homemade spray starch for clothes (no chemicals and way cheaper? YES!) for starters and am excited to learn more! What can you make instead of buying?

Borrow instead of buying when possible. We don’t buy movies, games, or tools. We borrow. We have enough friends that movies, games, and tools are more than readily available in a wide variety. Not only do tools and toys cost money, there’s maintenance too!

Don’t eat out. This is similar to #1, but it’s so important that it has to be reiterated and in a category all its own. Eating out is such a money sucker! It’s literally a moment of pleasure for double or triple the cost if you had bought the ingredients and made it yourself. Don’t let convenience win out. Plan your meals ahead of time, so you don’t have to wonder about dinner when you’re already starving. For the occasional times your spouse is treating you, even if it’s an anniversary, check Retail Me Not for good deals and choose where to go based on coupons you find.

Look for the best price possible. Using Krazy Koupon Lady, the Sunday morning newspaper, and countless other tools, you can easily find the best deals. Tiffany at Don’t Waste the Crumbs has this awesome idea of keeping a “price book,” suggesting you take a journal shopping and make a list of the main grocery stores you shop, the main foods you buy, and their prices per units, then refer to that when you’re wondering where to buy what. Such a novel idea.

Never pay full price for retail items. Not paying full price would apply more to clothes, shoes, home goods, etc. After all, sometimes you have to pay full price for gasoline, but you can still be getting the best deal. I always shop the clearance racks and cannot remember the last time I paid full price for our clothes. We just don’t go there. And even with not paying full price, I still look for coupons. There are too many clearance items, great sales, and coupons out there to pay full price for anything.

Part 2 of 10 Things Frugal People Do will be continued next week. Until then, let me know what you can implement this week!

Photo credit: Ken Teegardin | Cropped

5 Ways to Enjoy Life: Simple and Free

It’s amazing that with so many people in the world, this still remains: Everyone is different! We all require something different to make us “tick.” Maybe you’re not naturally a simple person. My sweet husband isn’t. If the choice is between Best Western and Hilton, you can bet we are going to the Hilton. Does that mean he buys all expensive stuff? Nope. He’s awesome. But no doubt, his natural bent is toward life’s finer things.

Regardless of being naturally practical or high maintenance or whatever, you can enjoy the simple things. It’s all about the mindset. Simply put: determine how you will save money, realize that simple can be fun, and get some sheer grit to stick to it (regardless of complaints from family or friends!). Here are ways you can enjoy the simple life today:

Read books. Books take you places. If you’ve never experienced a book taking you somewhere: don’t knock it till you’ve tried it! And not only does it take you places, you grow as a person. Books are cheap if you look for deals; they are free if you borrow from a friend or become a member of your local library.

Be recreational. Go for walks around the neighborhood, so you don’t have to drive anywhere or pay for a membership. Take your kids and/or pets to the nearest park; play football, basketball, soccer, or create a game using materials around the house. You never know what family memory you are creating! (Just writing this brings back fond memories of packing a PB&J picnic lunch for my younger brother and nephew and walking to the nearby park… those were some GOOD times; I still love driving by that old park!)

Watch only the free/paid for stuff. If Amazon prime is worth the money to you, only watch movies on there. If an extended family member is willing to share their Netflix, only watch that. Then there’s that library again; they have movies as well! I’ve been known to borrow movies from friends. Just be sure to return it promptly so your friend happily lends you movies next time.

Enjoy nature. Get up early to watch the sunrise or enjoy the sunset with friends or go for a hike. There’s something about nature that reminds us that life is bigger than ourselves. Our Creator God would love for you to enjoy nature and become closer to Him through that enjoyment.

Host a potluck. If you’re living on a budget and missing your friends, host a potluck! You’ll have fun with friends without putting out more food than you can afford. If you don’t have games or a TV to offer, ask a friend to bring a game or find a free game online (like Headbands).

I know there’s more out there than just this short list, but I wanted to keep it simple. 🙂 How about you? How do you like to keep life simple and enjoyable? Let me know in the comments!

Photo credit: Unknown

5 Foundational Money Saving Tips

Saving $1,000 may seem impossible. Just when you start saving money, something breaks.  And don’t get me wrong, it happens. Life happens. Stuff really does come up that you HAVE to tend to. You can’t drive around with a flat tire.

Sometimes that “have to” is imagined though. Friends drop in; you don’t “have to” feed them an elaborate meal outside your means (that’s a “want to”…impress). Here are five basic tips that have helped us save money lately:

Define necessities. We are spending only what is truly necessary. Defining those necessities can get tough, particularly if you’re married because of those “seemingly-pesky differing opinions.” Even within the realm of food – a basic necessity – we differ in opinions. Personally, I don’t think it’s wise to cut produce from our groceries. My husband, however, can get so into our “strict rice diet,” that produce is cut quite easily. Anyway, opinions differ. It’s important to define true necessities (and agree on them if you’re married).

Create a budget. To fail to plan is to plan to fail. A defined budget means you tell your money where to go instead of wondering where it went. For starters, try a journal or Excel. My favorite is a free mobile app, Every Dollar. If you aim for nothing, you’re sure to make it. Why not at least try? You have nothing to lose and much to gain, so start your free budget today!

Live within your means. If you’re living by a budget, you’re living within your means, right? Not necessarily. You can definitely have a budget and not stick to it. And you can absolutely still be using a credit card. Only buy what you can truly afford. If that means telling friends that you can’t go to their fun event, so be it. Live within your means.

Be realistic. You know you have a required meeting that’s 50 miles round trip, so plan your gas money accordingly. You can’t think, “I’ll just make it work,” and then run out of gas before the month’s end. For me, I have to be realistic about how much produce we’ll actually eat in a week. 🙂

Enjoy the simple things. If you’re truly living within your means, you may have to adjust your lifestyle a bit. But boy is it less stressful! Here’s my list of ways to enjoy the simple (and free) life.

Can you implement one of these today? If you’re married, talk to your spouse about what you can work on together. It’s amazing how fast money adds up…either in your savings or on your credit card. What can you do today to make a better financial future?

*A note to those in debt: these small steps matter (just see Dave Ramsey in his Total Money Makeover). However much debt you have, you can beat it! Promise. But every day you wait, it’s only getting worse. So what are you waiting for? Start today!

Photo credit: Frankieleon | Cropped