Frugal Living

Learning to live frugal can be very difficult at times.. at least for a person likefrugal living
myself.  I am having to train myself to think differently about many things.
 I looked at several different websites, wrote down pages upon pages of notes and then tried to figure out what worked best for me.  I am sure you all have heard the age old saying: “You can’t have your cake and eat it too“, but I can’t jump into this penny pinching mindset and just starting living frugal all at once!  You don’t just send your kid out on a bicycle for the first time without training wheels.  Using this as my guide, I made my list of ways I could cut spending, pinch Penny’s and begin to live frugal but not all at once.

I am still working on getting the things below down to an art.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.  Once I have these down like tying my shoes, I’ll add some more things in the mix.

Frugal Living 101
(I am going to give you the steps that is “recommended” and then what modifications I made to make them for for me.)

  • Befriend the Library – Instead of buying the books, you can get a library card for free.  If you look at your local library, they usually have the book you are purchasing and it is free to read.  Many libraries also carry movies that are free for you to check out.
    - My Modifications
    I am not a huge reader.  In fact, about the only books I read are dealing with my trade and they are more for reference.  The only book that I “read” on a regular basis is the Bible.  However, I am a movie watcher… A big one.  I would not typically go to the local video store to rent movies.  I liked the convenience of not having to leave my house to watch the movies I wanted.  Thus, I would just order all my moves through Pay-Per-View via DirectTV.  I looked at my statements over the last 3 months and I would typically rent 1-2 movies per week usually for $3.99 each which added up to around $30 per month ($360.00 yearly)!I decided to go with Netflix.  They offer a free trial and a few different billing plans.  I selected their unlimited rental plan since my family rents several movies a month for $8.99 per month.  They have plans that range in price depending on how many movies you want to watch.  For those of you that don’t know how this works:  You go on their website, select from literally thousands of movies and choose the ones you want to watch.  They will send you the movies in the mail and you watch them on your schedule.  Once you are finished, you just put them back in the package they provide, mail them back and they will send you the next movies in your list.  Since I have started this process, I am not only saving $20 per month… I think I like this much better than the renting PPV movies due to the selection they offer.
  • Clip Coupons – The best tactic we have found to maximize savings clipping coupons is the local Sunday Paper.  We will buy two papers on Sunday morning and my wife neatly organizes them in your “coupon organizer”.  We then make our shopping list based off the coupons we have.  We also try to shop at the local stores that double your coupons.  We have Kroger in our area that always doubles coupons.  It may take you a little research, but I am sure you can find one in your area that does the same.  Using no other process but this one, we have cut our weekly grocery bill by 25%.  If you are just starting, don’t expect to save 25% your first time though.  It will take you a couple weeks of getting Sunday papers to have a variety of coupons to maximize your savings.Tips For Clipping Your Coupons
    1.   Develop a filing system – Many people organize their coupons by category – dairy, frozen foods,deli, etc while others organize them by aisle in the store.  It is all a matter of which works best for you, but organization is key.
    2.   Find A Container to hold your coupons- My wife bought a recipe book that holds all her coupons, but you don’t have to go this route.  You can use any kind of container from a shoebox to a plastic container.  Whatever works best for you.
    3.   Clip And File Coupons When You Get Them – If you let the papers pile up, you will get lost and it will be a very difficult and time consuming task to get back on track.  Clipping and Filing them the day you get the coupons will minimize the time and keep you organized.
    4.   Purge Regularly – Expired Coupons will not save you any money.  Set a date (weekly / biweekly) that works for you where you go through your old coupons and throw away the ones that are no longer valid.  You don’t want those expired coupons taking up space in your container.
  • Eat Out Less Often – (One of the harder things for me to do).  Eating out is fun and convenient, but it is also more expensive.  At first we tried to stop eating out all together, but we quickly failed because we had been used to eating out so often.  I disagree with the reviews that tell you that you should not eat out at all.  If you do not treat yourself sometimes, you will not stick to the program.  We decided to just limit the times we out per month by cutting it down to only eating out 4 times per month.  We still get to eat out, but not as much as we did and you will see an immediate positive cash flow by only cutting out a few times a month.
  • Switch To Online Bill pay - Save yourself a stamp, and avoid late fees by paying your bills online. You can pay direct to your creditors, or set up automatic bill pay with your bank; and take yourself out of the equation entirely.
  • Group Errands – Instead of jumping in the car a dozen times a day and running several small errands, plan out your errands and group as many together as you can.  This will save you more money on your gas bill than you think.
  • Flip The Switch-I know this one sounds like a no brainier, but most of us are guilty of leaving a light on or the television playing while we are not there.  While turning out lights and turning off appliances may seem like a very small thing, you will see a noticeable difference in you’re electric bill by doing these simple things… And you will be Going Green!
  • Find Those Freebies- You can find several free things on the internet.  It may require filling out a short form or taking an online survey.  Be warned of the scams though!  Never give out your credit card information to a site offering “free stuff”.  While you may get the free product being advertised, if it asks for your credit card odds are they are sucking you into some kind of monthly payment that is hidden somewhere in the user agreement.  Check out the Free Stuff link on my blog.  I will continue to post to this section when I run across some free offer that I think is worth noting.  Some of them are “chances to win” while others are just plain free stuff.

More Frugal Living Tips To Come…