Frugality 101

CoinsWe thought we’d start off with some basic money saving tips for everyday life and then move on to more specific matters. The important thing to keep in mind in a frugal lifestyle is that every little bit adds up. A few cents saved here and there may not seem like much at one time, but consistently saving a few cents at a time can and will make a difference amount to a noticeable difference.

A good way to see this for yourself is to start a coin jar or piggy bank and put in every bit of loose change you find lying around the house: in your pockets, desk drawers, under couch cushions, in the car, etc. What starts out looking like a few unpromising handfuls of change can turn out to be $5, $10 or even $15. So it’s not going to pay next month’s rent, but it can pay for many other things that you may need (or want).

So, here are a few rudimentary suggestions for saving a little here and there:

  • As with long distance phone rates, utility companies have peak and off-peak rates for residential accounts – usually 10am-6pm (when most people are at work) are the peak hours . If you happen to be home between those hours on a weekday, try to limit your use of electricity even more than usual. If you can, wait until after 6pm to do the laundry, use hot water if you have an electric water heater, and other electric appliances.
  • Consolidate errands as much as possible. Try to schedule trips to the bank, post office, grocery store, dry cleaner’s, etc. in one outing, planning the most efficient route to save time and gas.
  • When grocery shopping, try to buy enough to last at least a week so as not to have to return in a couple of days. Every trip to the store often results in more purchases than originally planned; thus, the fewer trips the better. In our household, we now shop once a month and have seen a significant decrease in our grocery bill.
  • Eat before leaving the house and take a snack and water bottle with you. Hunger or thirst can cause you to shop less prudently or need to eat out.
  • Before making any sort of purchase, seriously consider whether or not you really need it or just want it, and if you want it, if it will be of lasting value.
  • Patience is a virtue when it comes to prudent economy. Wait a while and see if something you thought you “must have” was something that would have just been “nice to have”.
  • Price or cost doesn’t always determine quality. Just because something (an item, an activity, etc.) costs less doesn’t mean it’s not just as valuable or fun.
  • Find new and less expensive hobbies to substitute a few more costly recreational activities (suggestions for hobbies and activities coming soon).

These are just some very basic frugality tips. We will go into further detail for various matters on future posts.

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