When it comes down to it there are only two ways you can live – within your means or beyond your means. When you live within your means, you’re not creating debt and saving money to achieve your life’s goals. On the other hand, if you’re living beyond your means, you are undoubtedly creating debt – and maybe to the point where it becomes a really serious problem. If you’re in the latter group and living beyond your means, here are 13 tips for frugal living that could help you get your spending
1. Have just one car
If you have more than one car, transportation is probably your second most expensive item after your mortgage or rent. If you can get by with just one car, you’ll cut your transportation expenses essentially in half. You would have half as much maintenance; require half as much fuel and need to buy half as much automobile insurance.
2. Move to smaller home
We downsized about five years ago and as a result no longer have a mortgage. You might be able to afford a larger house but that doesn’t mean you need one. You should live in a house as small as you can while still being comfortable. Of course, that doesn’t mean living in a one-room apartment when you have a family of four. It just means a smaller house. This alone could save you thousands of dollars a year. Plus, you would get rid of a lot of clutter when you move to that smaller house.
2. Buy used first
You can want things and you can need things. You should buy only those things you really need. When you do need something, look for used before you buy new. Just ask around among friends and family. You might be surprised at what you learn. You could also try Freecycle.org or Craigslist.org. Think about shopping garage sales or thrift shops. If you stop to look around, you might be surprised at the bargain you find.
4. Stop those online impulse purchases
If you go online a couple times a week, it can be easy to find things that look very tempting and just put the purchases on a credit card. It’s better to go online only once a month or every couple of months. This will cut down on those impulse purchases. And when you buy online make sure it’s something you need and not just want.
5. Have a minimalist wardrobe
Buy casual pants, slacks, blouses, skirts, shoes and polo-type shirts in plain, solid colors. That way everything goes with everything else. You won’t have the stress of picking out an outfit every day and you may find that you don’t need as many clothes. If you don’t think that’s true, here’s a video showing how one woman gets along very nicely with only 33 pieces of clothing.
6. Make a 30-day list
Another way to curb impulse spending is to create a 30-day list. If you want to buy something that’s not a true necessity, put it on the list with the date that you added it. Then, don’t buy it for at least 30 days after you put the item on the list. If you stick to this, you will likely find that you buy a lot less.
7. Look for free entertainment
Did you know that the average person spends about $1800 a year on entertainment such as going to the movies or a night out? If you work at it, you can find cheap ways to have fun. We checked our newspaper recently for free things that we could do as a family and found almost a dozen. This included free art shows, free concerts, walking tours and lectures.
Stay healthy and you will save a lot of money on hospital bills, medicine and doctors’ visits over the long run. It’s that old ounce of prevention thing. Just eat healthy and exercise. It’s really very simple.
9. Sell your junk
Look around. I’ll bet you can find a lot of stuff that you could sell on craigslist or with a garage sale. You might even have stuff you could sell on eBay and make money. It’s absolutely true that one person’s junk is another person’s treasure.
10. Moderation in all things
Do you drink a few beers or a few glasses of wine a day? This can add up to big money every month. You could cut that back to one beer or one glass of wine and save money. You should also eat sweets in moderation. Desserts and sugary snacks provide a lot of calories but no nutrition. And you pay a premium price for them in both money and deteriorating health. Just cut back on those sweets.
11. Combine your errands
Don’t run one or two errands every day. Combine them into one trip a day or better yet one a week. Also, be sure to plan your best route to save on gas and time. You should also do as much of your bill paying online as possible as this should eliminate some errands.
12. Cancel subscriptions
Do you really need to have magazine subscriptions these days? For that matter, there is such a wealth of information and entertainment available online you might not even really need a newspaper subscription anymore. Do you need a Netflix subscription? There are so many DVDs available for free or cheap you might be able to cancel it. It’s not that you don’t need any of these, it’s just that you need to ask yourself whether or not they’re really essential.
13. Don’t pay interest
If you can live within your means, you won’t be paying interest on any debts. You should be able to live on a budget and without credit – especially high-interest credit cards. You might do as some people have done and freeze those credit cards so that it would be difficult to use one unless it was an emergency. Beyond this, look at other accounts or loans where you pay interest and see if there isn’t some way you could zero them out.