So, what exactly does it mean to be “frugal”? Merriam-Webster defines it as “careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to”. We can also translate this as being “smart” about how we spend our earnings and how we utilize financial resources. With the increasing costs of goods and services, many people cannot fathom the idea of maintaining a strict budget, let alone, actually “saving” the leftovers, so let’s just start with a few basics. Once you’ve tried at least five from the list below, I promise you’ll have a beautiful relationship with your finances.
Get “thrifty” with it.
I recently became a fan of thrifting after going Goodwill hunting with my mom and two sisters. What I would have normally spent on four brand-new items cost me less than $20. No one knows that I am wearing donated clothing except me. Same complements – more money in the bank.
Market your money.
So, that little savings account that you can actually see every time you access your mobile (or online) banking will become a distant memory as long as you can’t actually touch it anytime you want. Research some money market options that will yield you a high return and restrict your withdrawals to once per quarter.
Fill her up.
Fill your gas tank on Sunday evenings. This way you can see just how much fuel you’re using each week traveling to and from work and running errands.
Put yourself on "house arrest".
If at all possible, try not to leave your house every single weekend. Purposely schedule your weekend activities sparingly for at least 3 months and watch your savings grow.
I received this advice recently from a friend. Instead of shopping with just a list of groceries, first plan your meals. Once you do this, most junk foods will be automatically cut out to allow for more nutritional selections. Preparing some light snacks will also steer you away from the impulse to purchase fast foods while on the go.
Leave the check card(s) at home.
Instead, keep a little cash on hand for emergencies. It can be a little frightening with only $20 in your pocket, but eventually you’ll become a pro at making those dollars stretch.
Become the "queen" of couponing.
I once met a lady, while shopping in Publix, who told me that she uses more coupons than cash. I couldn’t believe it. To give me a taste of the “frugal” life, she handed me a stack of her coupons to use during my shopping trip. As I quickly sifted through them, I saw that I consumed most of the items advertised. That day I spent $9 less on groceries and have been “couponing” ever since.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew.
Don’t open new credit accounts or borrow money just because you qualify for it. Your debt-to-income ratio could easily become lopsided once you get on the wrong side of the credit fence. Keep one major credit card on deck, carry a low balance, and continue to make timely payments on any installment debt you might have and watch that three-digit number soar.
Now, if you do plan to use credit for your business or work, apply for cards that will reward you to shop, dine and travel.
Do your own nails.
Now, unless you’re getting hitched or standing next to the person getting hitched, professionally manicured nails are a luxury. If you spoil yourself every two weeks, and then tip the nice nail lady/guy on top of this, you could be spending more than $600 a year. Buy several bottles of your favorite nail lacquers (on sale of course), throw in a few maintenance supplies, and you could be headed to a warm, sunny beach this coming winter with your hefty savings. But, if you just can't resist having a professional do your nails, try this nail care kit to extend your manicure.
By N. Renee McFadden
Chief Bliss Officer
Bliss Virtual Services