Be Frugal Where it Counts

Be Frugal Where it Counts - picture of piggy bank next to increasing stacks of coins

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Frugality is one of the Puritan virtues, and is a founding philosophical precept of this country. It’s wrapped up in a mythos of self-determination and self-reliance…and it has fallen somewhat out of favor with modern audiences.  Look at me, being all philosophical…..

Still, just because frugality isn’t fashionable doesn’t mean it’s not important. To me, frugality means getting more out of life, and getting more out of your limited resources. It’s easy to conceptualize, but it’s a matter of setting habits, not a quick fix. Make frugality an emphasis in your day-to-day life, and it will extend to the rest of your life as well.

Make A Budget

When it comes to budgeting, I recommend a zero-sum budget or the envelope system.  If you opt for the old-fashioned cash-only method, put up a corkboard with six envelopes, labeled “Car”, “Rent”, “Groceries”, “Utilities”, “Fun” and “Savings,” or whatever your categories happen to be.  Put your receipts for these items into these envelopes and tally them up at the end of the month. You’ll probably be surprised at how much you spend when you’re not paying attention.  In fact, it can be rather shocking.

Track your income and compare it to your expenses, and start trying to shift things away from expenses and into savings. Look for things you’re buying but not using (like gym memberships), and make an effort to cancel them. Also look for ways to cut out small expenditures like lattes, your daily iced tea fix, or a nasty cigarette habit.

Frugality: The Simple Life

“People Buy Things They Don’t Need With Money They Don’t Have To Impress People They Don’t Like.” — Will Smith

If that phrase hurts, it’s probably time to consider simplifying your life.  Are you one of those people who trade your car in every few years?  If so, you’re blowing a ton of cash on cars you’ll never truly own.  Are you the target demographic for those Lowe’s commercials about home remodeling?  Unless you’re planning to sell your house in the near future, maintain it, don’t remodel it. Those ads (and those programs on Home & Garden TV) are meant to make you feel insecure about your house.  Don’t listen to them. Maintain your home, but only remodel if it’s an enjoyable task for you or if you plan on selling in the near future.

Protect What You Have

Everyone should take the time to catalog their possessions in case of a break-in, natural weather event, or fire. And that is also the perfect time to find things you aren’t using and sell them. Try, as always, to simplify your life, and focus on the important things. Instead of keeping up with the Joneses, focus on making good decisions that will affect your financial future. That also includes investing in life insurance and the different types of insurance that can protect against the unthinkable.

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  1. I’ve blown way too much cash on financing expensive cars. I’m such a silly girl. Now I’m paying for it. Grr!

  2. I like the idea of frugality being “getting more out of life.”

    Frugality might not be fashionable at the moment but as soon as the economy goes through another bad cycle like after the 2007 crash, frugality will be back in. Hopefully the economy won’t take as big of a tumble though next time.

  3. I’m always looking to cut out things that we don’t use. The cell phone bill is the big kicker and I’m thinking of making the move from Verizon to Republic Wireless. Might not have the best service around here but will save me a ton of cash.

    1. We balked at getting a cell phone for some time but finally went with Republic and are very pleased. They offered a good deal on a Motorola phone and it has many features. If you can find other reviews online they might give you a fuller view as we have nothing to compare it with (except a short stint with Tracphone). By now you’ve probably already made your decision but I just stumbled on this site today.

  4. Great article! I wouldn’t say frugality is completely unfashionable…it’s one of the many things that attracted me to my wife. lol

    I love the Will Smith quote, it’s so true.

    I like being different and having money, even while I watch so many others with brand new cars that they can’t afford.

  5. Reducing what you spend money on is critically important.

    However, you do have to be careful not to take it too far, especially when it comes to personal services and hiring someone to do something for you.

    The easy trap is to think I can do it myself, and my time is worth $X/hr where X is their hourly rate. This results in almost anything being worth having someone else do for you.

    However, once you’ve adopted the frugal habit, and understand your money, you know that X isn’t your hourly rate. X is actually how long would it take you to save that much money not earn that much money. Even when you’re frugal, with taxes, living expenses, and the like, it always takes several times longer to save X than to “earn” it.

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