10 Things Frugal People Do (Part 2)

Frugal people do things differently. Plain and simple. And regardless of where you stand on the frugality scale, you can incorporate changes today to save you a lot of money (and even stress) in the future!

If you missed part 1, check it out here!

Cut the unnecessary. In our modern world, we are bound to fill up our lives with unnecessary expenses from time to time! Do you use your gym membership? You could easily run around the neighborhood for free or do an at-home fitness video. Do you need your cable TV if you also have Netflix? Do you read all the magazines you pay for, and do you eat all your produce before it goes bad? Think of the ways you can cut out the unnecessary; once you start thinking, you’re sure to come up with something.

Use everything you have. I recently wanted to do some crafting, but I didn’t want to spend any money on any part of the craft. I had some burlap my mom gave me and some cardboard from Aldi, so I made a cute, J-shaped door hanger. When you start thinking of using only what you have in your home, I bet you’ll surprise yourself with how creative and inventive you are. This is also how I stopped buying paper towels in exchange for other household items.

Find ways to make money. Recycle, do side work, sell unused and unwanted items online or locally, sell clothes online (I’ve used Poshmark and Mercari, and they’re both good for different reasons; here is more about that). I’ve taken my juicer to work, along with some produce, and set up shop on my lunch break, making juices for coworkers; of course I also set out a tip jar (just make sure you’re following your company’s protocol for this!). The possibilities are practically endless!

Take care of what you have. Clean your vacuum cleaner when it’s time, not waiting until the belt is broken from overload or the filter is irreplaceable. My husband’s expensive Colehaan shoes have to be resoled and polished regularly, and using a shoehorn is best because it helps absorb sweat and keep a good shape. Resoling and polishing and shoehorns all cost money, but those costs are better than a new pair of expensive shoes! Bottom line: If you need it or if it means something to you, take the time and money to take care of it. Usually the maintenance is cheaper than the replacement piece, and it’s almost always cheaper than replacing it altogether!

Don’t turn down help when it’s offered. It’s amazing to me how God has always given us wonderful friends who love to help us. We have a beautiful kitchen table, thanks to some very wonderful friends. We have a nice 6-foot Christmas tree, thanks to some other very wonderful friends. When you live in a way that is “unlavish,” often your friends or family notice without your saying a word. And they usually want you to enjoy nice things, especially if it’s in their power to help. So if they offer, let them! If they are asking if you want to take home left-overs from an event, say “yes!” (This does not mean to go around, sounding like an impoverished soul that needs some help, in hopes that someone will feel sorry enough for you to offer to have you over for dinner or something!). I can’t count the number of coupons I’ve received – coupons for free things! – because a friend knew I could use some help.

Do you consider yourself frugal? Is there a tip or two you can incorporate today? Do you have tips to add? Let me know what you think of the list! If you missed part 1, check it out here!

Photo credit: Ken Teegardin | Cropped

How to Cut Back on Every Day Expenses (and Be Happier)… for the Working Person

 

What does a normal work day look like for you? Is it scrambling to get to work on time, running to the cafeteria or out to eat for lunch, and then figuring out what’s for dinner while you’re on your way home?

Sometimes when you’re working full-time (or more), it feels like all you can do to just stay afloat, financially and physically. But just staying afloat shouldn’t be the goal for your life or mine.

Did you know that a few minutes of preparation can save you hours down the road? And that doesn’t just apply to areas like travel, vacation, or big events. I’m here to tell you how it can apply to your daily life and to your finances as well!

If you can implement just a couple of these tips and plan out your week in advance, you can absolutely overcome some of the financial, physical, and emotional struggle of the daily grind. (Although, the focus is definitely more on the financial benefit here!)

Use less product. Americans use so many products in day-to-day routines, and we get so busy that we don’t even think about how much we are actually using versus how much we actually need. If your hair only needs a quarter-sized amount of shampoo, don’t use more. If you can feel clean without squirting on the shower gel three different times, then don’t. You’d be amazed how much longer your products last! (We’ve also discovered that we can survive without paper towels – here are some more tips on that!)

I realized how much money I could save in this area when I started washing my hair less frequently than every day. That one trick has saved me money and lots of time! I’ll save the details for another post.

Take your lunch to work. If you’re not already doing this, you’re missing out! Taking your lunch to work saves money AND time! Even if you don’t eat out for lunch but instead go home, you are still saving gasoline and drive time by simply packing a lunch. (Just be sure to get your needed time away from your work station in order to still thoroughly enjoy your lunch, to reduce stress, and to come back more effective.) Take a couple minutes in the morning to pack a sandwich and clean an apple. This few minutes will save you a roundtrip for lunch (wherever that is) and will likely save you some calories and/or some stress on your pocketbook.

Carpool. Despite gasoline not being quite as expensive now as it has been in the past, it’s still a money-saver to carpool. You’re not only saving gasoline, you’re saving the wear and tear on your car (and there’s an estimated average of $515/year that our roads put on our automobiles!).

Use less energy. If you haven’t heard of “ghost appliances,” it’s a real thing! This lady saved 26% by unplugging items when not in use, so let the unplugging begin! Be sure your AC and heat are only set to be on when someone is home. If you can put your dinner in the crockpot on low during the day, it will save you on those summer evenings from your house getting too warm (and thereby causing your AC bill to go up). Think through your personal situation to see if there are any ways you are wasting money while you’re away, at work, etc.

Meal plan. Like I said earlier, a few minutes of preparation can save you hours down the road, and while that applies to many areas of life, it definitely applies to our meals! Meal planning will save you from going out to eat – what a money sucker! – and from going to the grocery store after work, and from buying items unnecessarily. Because if you’re going to the store at the last minute or straight from work, you likely will forget if you also need milk or oil or a particular spice, etc., and, therefore, you end up spending more money on “impulse buys” than you needed to or had budgeted.

Additionally, when you plan out your meals, you lower your risk of wasting food…there’s no wondering how you’re going to use the extra this or that. When you shop, you buy exactly what you need (which also saves you money). Meal planning is a post in itself, but for now, I suggest checking out one of these helpful printables to get started:

Free Weekly Meal Plan, Shopping List, Recipe Cards, Calendar

6 Meal Planning Templates

Isn’t it amazing that daily routines can have such a huge impact on your life? Little things certainly add up. What can you get started on today to make your week better than last week, physically, emotionally, or financially? Let me know if you have any frugal ideas to add to this!

Photo credit: taxcredits.net

7 Killer Tips for Getting out of Debt 

Regardless of the size of your debt or how you accumulated it, it has to go. If you’ve never been debt free before, you can’t imagine the emotional feeling of freedom you will experience! If you chose that reason alone to motivate you to get out of debt, it would be worth it. At any rate, I believe this post will be both inspirational and practical.

How can you begin to tackle that $5,000 medical bill and stay on top of your already tight budget? Or will you ever be able to afford making extra payments on your $50K student loan debt? It’s all possible, my friend! And here are some great tips to start tackling that debt today!

  1. Get serious. As Dave Ramsey would say, “Get gazelle-intense!” Half heartedness will not help you get out of debt any faster. If you are determined, the battle is yours!
  2. Control yourself. Yes, you need to control your spending, but usually it comes down to controlling yourself. If you don’t have it, don’t spend it. Plain and simple.
  3. Devise a plan. Planning and thinking are some of the hardest tasks there are, which is probably why so few engage in them. Create a working budget and figure out how you can live under your means while you pay off this debt.
  4. Save $1,000 for emergencies…before you start trying to pay off your debts! It might sound crazy, but you NEED this $1K for inevitable emergencies. You should NOT go in to more debt trying to pay off your new set of tires, your new engine, or whatever it is that breaks while you’re knocking out your debt. And saving $1,000 feels pretty good, too! Just don’t touch it for anything other than emergencies.
  5. Throw every spare penny at your debt – every chance you get! This is probably where I get a little too crazy. I can bundle up with 5 layers of clothing to avoid running the heat, and I can wear my shoes to a pulp, and the list goes on. But when you’re trying to live a debt-free life, you will absolutely have to make some changes to your spending (if you didn’t have to make changes, you would probably already be out of debt, right?).
  6. Start with your smallest debt and only work on paying off that one debt. Dave Ramsey explains it so much better than I, hence why I included tip #7. You will gain so much momentum from paying off one single debt at a time and then working on each debt – one at a time, from smallest to largest – until they are all gone.
  7. Read Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover. I can’t say enough about this book. I know it has helped so many people get out of debt, including me and my husband. While some of the topics are long-term, it will help you get a great perspective on what financial stages you should be working on and in what order.

“The borrower is servant to the lender,” according to the Bible. Not only do I want to be a good steward of what God has given, but I don’t want to spend my life trying to pay people back, constantly trying to catch up.

Again, no matter your amount of debt, start today with baby steps like these so that you can be on your way to financial freedom!

Why Have a Budget

Yep, I just said the B-word. And maybe you should, too. According to a 2013 Gallup poll, nearly 67% of Americans do not have a detailed budget.

So I’m not surprised Forbes reported last June that 63% of Americans do not have enough cash on-hand to pay for a $500 emergency. $500 is a considerable chunk of cash, but a $500 emergency can easily pop up. Did you blow a tire? Well, of course, you should always replace them in pairs. Poof. You are in debt (or getting in great shape as you ride your bike all over town), and your $500 credit card swipe becomes $600 or more after interest. These statistics say that “normal” means being broke.

Have you ever looked at your bank account and thought, What happened to all of my money? Do you know what it feels like to have the cashier inform you that your debit or credit card was declined? Maybe you’re tired of juggling bills, trying to keep the lights from being turned off. I’m here to tell you that there is a better way, and you can live it! All it takes is a little planning and learning how to control yourself.

Someone smart once said, “Money flows from the careless to the conscientious.”

I’m not here to convince you to sell your furniture, ditch the car, or eat Ramen noodles for the next fifteen years. Gross. All I’m saying is that you don’t have to live that way any more.

How would you like to:

  • Tell your money exactly where to go instead of wondering where it went?
  • Stop going further into debt, and not have to worry about who is calling?
  • Get the best deal possible on pretty much every major purchase you ever make?
  • Never have to wonder if you can pay your bills?
  • Decide for yourself how much you want to have available to cover an emergency?
  • Ditch the debt hole you’ve been digging and start to build real savings?

Okay, so a budget is not magical. It won’t do any of those things for you. But unless you have an uncle on this list (and if you do, call me: we should be friends), it is highly unlikely that you will experience any of these things without a budget. We’ll get to specifics in my post next week, but for now, just answer this question:

Who makes the decisions in your home: you or your bank account?

PS – If I still haven’t convinced you to come back next week for how to create a budget, take a look at this. Or this. Or this.

 

Photo credit: Pictures of Money

20 Items to Remember to Budget!

Ever built a budget for the month and realized later that you forgot about something so obvious? Been there! If you’re like me, you had an extensive meeting with your spouse to make sure every detail was cared for, but yet something came up that you probably should’ve expected and should’ve discussed in that “extensive meeting” and just didn’t.

Well here’s a list of basic things to be sure to add to your budget so you can build your best budget possible. It works for our family of 2, but I think it will be a decent guideline for any size of family (food is still food and bills are still bills, right?). I’ll start with the obvious and move to the less common.

Side note 1: we use a free app called Every Dollar for our budget, and we love it!!

Side note 2: get out your calendar for the month so you have an idea of the extra items like birthdays you’ll be spending money on!

Side note 3: for extra tips on saving money on your bills, check this out!

Here we go! (and if you use Every Dollar, you can choose to have your budget copied from last month, create an entirely new one, or edit your last month’s budget for the coming month…so no need to remember these items each time!)

1. Mortgage/rent

2. Food – groceries and restaurants (will you be having company at all this month?)

3. Gasoline

4. Electricity/gas

5. Water/garbage

6. Phone bill

7. Car insurance

8. Car maintenance/savings for car maintenance

9. Clothing – dry cleaning or needed items

10. Entertainment (Don’t forget your friends asked you to go to that show with them!)

11. Gifts (Whose birthday or baby shower is coming up?)

12. Emergency fund (for a flat tire, sudden death in the family, etc; $1,000 is a good goal for this!)

13. Savings

  • Short term funds (for things like computers and vacations that need more than one month’s budget to purchase)
  • Long term savings (for a house, a new car, bigger emergencies; Dave Ramsey suggest saving 3-6 months worth of income for the bigger unexpected things)
  • Retirement (don’t rely only on the government, please!)

14. Life insurance

15. Health/health insurance

16. Travel

17. Home maintenance

18. Homeowners/Renters insurance

19. Education

20. Miscellaneous

Bet you didn’t think the list could be so long for “basics!” Let me know if I missed something!

Photo credit: Pictures of Money | Cropped