Everyone loves a fresh start right? The clocks have been changed, the weather is warming up, and it’s time to start the spring cleaning. So why not use this renewed energy as a push to live a more frugal lifestyle? I’m not saying to flip your life upside down overnight and start sacrificing everything in the name of frugality. That’s just asking for failure. This fresh start is about making sensible choices that allow you to live a happy and balanced life on a small budget. If you want to start living frugally and actually make a lifestyle out of it (not just another passing phase) it’s important to take a slow and steady approach.
Here are a few changes you can make today that will help you take a step into a more frugal lifestyle. Remember, take it slow and steady. Implement one change at a time, make it a habit, and then try something else.
Take a second look at reoccurring costs like your cable, internet, phone, and magazine subscriptions. Start cutting where you can. For me this meant getting rid of the premium movie channels (we usually end up renting from Red Box or On Demand anyway) to cut out a fraction of my cable bill. Maybe for you this means getting rid of one of those magazines you don’t even end up reading. It’s also important to review your internet and phone bills and start shopping for better plans.
Plan your dinners in advance. Set aside a time (Sunday night works best for me) to sit down and plan what you are going to eat throughout the week. Post it somewhere in your kitchen where you can reference it easily and stick to it. You will be less likely to grab takeout or go out to dinner if you know what is on the “menu” for the whole week. Especially since you know that the ingredients are like ticking time bombs in your fridge and if you don’t eat them they will spoil.
Leave your wallet in the car! Next time you go out for a night on the town or go for a “window shopping” trip through the mall; bring only the cash you are allowed to spend. By leaving your wallet, credit cards, and debit cards in the car you have completely eliminated the threat of over spending. Seems like a no-brainer to me!
Take the wine out of wine and dine. It may seem impossible (well to me at least) but try to only drink wine at a restaurant if it’s a special occasion. The average markup for bottles of wine is 2.5-4 times the normal retail cost. The worst part of it all, restaurants are getting these bottles at a wholesale price so their profit margins are even higher than we think. And for those special occasions when you do splurge, beware of brand names. Popular brands always get the highest markup because they sell no matter what.
Remember, it takes 21 days of doing something to make it a habit so allow yourself time and don’t get frustrated.
These changes are just the tip of the frugal living iceberg. What are some other changes you have made towards a life of frugality?