We live in a consumer society in which credit cards have spoilt us, and as one purchase only leads to another we get caught in this vicious circle of never-ending shopping that does not truly fulfill us, though it does leave us with empty bank accounts at the end of the month. If you are tired of living above your means, frugal is the way to go. This by no means implies that you are stingy; it simply signifies that you are ready to make changes in your lifestyle. Life is highly unpredictable and the smartest thing you can do for yourself and your family is to plan ahead, adopt clever spending habits and save your check-book. In that spirit we have created a list of money-saving practices, tips and tricks on how to live on a budget and still live well.
Create a budget and stick to it
When you know your monthly income, it is easy to allocate means accordingly, and creating an excel table could be a great tool for keeping track of your monthly expenditure. Establish your priorities – rent/mortgage is number one, followed by utilities and groceries. Once you have settled the essentials, create categories for transportation/gas, dining out, and finally – clothes, and cleaning products.
Learn to cut back
Living on a budget entails making a few sacrifices, but these are not so huge that you won’t be able to adapt to the changes fairly quickly. If you have a household where one or both spouses/partners are working, make a habit of getting up a bit earlier and prepare your own lunch and put on a fresh pot of coffee. Place them in a nice plastic container and thermos respectively, and bring them to work. This will save you tons because the food you prepare in your own home is at least three times cheaper than what you would pay in the restaurant near your office. The same goes for dining out. Make your own meals, and have friends over for dinner or game night instead of going out and spending abundance on overpriced meals and drinks. As for regular grocery shopping, the first golden rule – never go shopping while hungry, as numerous studies have shown that people buy completely unnecessary stuff, (not just in the food aisles) when shopping hungry. Another great hack is couponing. You do not have to turn into a crazy coupon person, but having a few of those up your sleeve is highly recommended, and when you get the receipt at the end you will pat yourself on the back for it, especially if you buy certain items that have a long shelf life in bulk.
Make your own
Household cleaners can be very pricey, and more often than not, they do not live up to their promises, so why not dab in some DIY and make cleaning products from the items your already have in your pantry. From coffee grounds you can use to get rid of an unpleasant odor from the fridge, white vinegar for cleaning your washer, to baking soda and chalk, All You has got you covered with dozens of clever and money-saving recipes for an impeccable home.
Accidents happen, house appliances give up, and that results in unforeseen costs. When it comes to this, play it smart. The first thing you can do is try to assess the problem. If for example your fridge is giving you trouble in the form of noise, refusal to let the water out of dispenser, do some research and then you can make an informed decision and answer the question: replace or repair? There are times when you can be your own repair person, and fix the problem with very little investment, or have someone come and do it for the fraction of the price of a new one, so before you go rushing to the appliance store for a new one, do your best to salvage what you already own.
Thrift, Donate, Repair, Repeat
One of the key elements of going frugal is making smart decisions when it comes to your wardrobe. One brilliant option that has been around for decades, and thanks to hipsters it has reclaimed its status as the ‘it-thing’ is thrift shopping. Thrift shops are amazing! They carry used but well-preserved clothes that more often than not have far better craftsmanship and quality than most of the new things out there. Aside from them being a great source of fashion inspiration for you, thrift shops are great if you are a mom. As one, you know the struggles of buying children’s clothes and having the kids grow out of them in a second, taking you back to square one.As for clothes you love, but they do not fit anymore, do not be quick to jump to the dump – pay a visit to your tailor, see what can be altered and salvaged. If you are not a fan of second-hand clothes, try practicing patience. Everything you like is bound to be on sale, so set money aside for shopping ahead, and then get everything at greatly reduced prices.