The ABC's of Frugal Living
Living a frugal lifestyle is becoming more and more essential these days. Hard economic times have forced people to move outside their comfort zone and become more frugal. I thought I would share my ABC's of frugal living. This might vary from person to person, but hopefully it will give you some ideas.
A is to remind you to always check before you buy something new. Try to find what you need used. It will be cheaper and help the environment. OK, maybe don't buy your food used, but just about everything else anyway.
B stands for barter. Bartering is a great way to save money and get what you need. You can barter food items (your garden produce for someone else meat they have hunted for example.), babysitting, haircuts, house cleaning, services, etc. Think outside the box on this one and see what great bartering ideas you can come up with.
C stands for cooking from scratch. The best way for a person to save money in the kitchen is to start cooking from scratch. Basic ingredients are typically much cheaper and can be stretched farther than a box of hamburger helper or chicken nuggets.
D is to remind you to do it yourself. Paying someone else to do something that you can take care of yourself is the most expensive option out there. If you don't know how to do something, borrow a book from the library, take a class or look it up on the internet. In the long run you will save a lot of money by doing things yourself.
E is for eggs. Eggs are a very cheap source of protein and are packed with vitamins and nutrients. You can have them for any meal of the day and for snacks. People forget that protein does not have to be meat.
F is for fluorescent light bulbs. Yes they are more expensive up front, but you can lower your electric bill substantially if you replace at least your most frequently used light bulbs with fluorescent.
G is for garage sales. You can find just about anything at garage sales. Some of my recent finds were a wheel barrow and canning jars.
H is for hanging laundry. This is another great way to lower your electric bill. Energy costs have gone through the roof over the past couple of years and for every load you put in the dryer you are spending between $.75 and $1. I do a load a day, so my savings are around $25 a month or $300 a year.
I is for the internet. There is a wealth of information to be had on the internet. It is really never ending. It costs very little each month, and can pay itself back quickly if you do research online before buying. No more running from store to store looking for something. No more driving to the library to see if a book is in - request it online and you should receive a notice when it is ready to be picked up. You can also learn anything about any subject on the internet.
J is for the Jones's. As in don't keep up with the Jones's. What someone else has shouldn't matter to you. Especially if it might mean going into debt in order to have it. If you can stop comparing yourself to others you will definitely save money.
K is for the Keeper, or something else like this. Using reusable feminine products will save you a lot of money over the years and is better for the environment.
L is for the library. You can get books, magazines, DVDs, music and more typically for free from your local library. You can take classes or sign your kids up for classes and activities. You can use their computers even. The library is one of the most frugal places there is.
M is for making do. Making do with what you already have is the most frugal option. It saves more money even than buying used.
N is for neighbors. Get to know them and it could help you to save money. Helping each other out typically saves people money and having a reciprioal borrowing arrangement for seldom used tools can save you money and space.
O is for online bill paying. This saves time and money. Stamps have gotten expensive and you could save several dollars a month by paying online.
P is for planning ahead. Planning ahead for a long afternoon out by packing snacks and drinks, planning ahead for a vacation by making sure you have what you need before you go, planning ahead for next seasons clothing, planning a menu the week before based on what you already have and what is on sale that week. The list could go on and on. The better job you can do planning the fewer surprises will come up. This will usually result in less money spent.
Q is for quiet. Turn the TV, the radio, and the computer off. Enjoy the silence or a good conversation with someone. Unplug your life a little and you will definitely save money on your electric bill, but also improve your life.
R is for reusing. Instead of buying disposable items such as napkins, diapers and rags, get something that can be used time and time again. In the long run it will save you money.
S is for stockpiling. I am firm believer in stockpiling as much as you can. This doesn't mean run out and purchase ten of everything you use. When something goes on a great sale, buy more than you need that week. You will save money in the long run buying it on sale, but by having the items on hand it will help you with your meal planning and will reduce the number of trips you need to make to the store.
T is for the Tightwad Gazette. This book is loaded with ideas on frugal living. From the minor to the extreme, wherever you are at on your frugal journey, this book has something to offer you.
U is for understanding your finances. In order to get anywhere financially, you have to have a good understanding of your money and where it is going each month. Without this, you will never get ahead.
V is for vegetable garden. For under $20 this year I was able to grow enough tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, garlic and potatoes to feed my family all summer and put some away for the winter. Growing your own food is a great way to lower your grocery bill.
W is for water. Water is the best drink for you and shouldn't cost anything. You don't need to buy water in those neat little plastic bottles. From the tap is typically fine, although you might want to run it through a filter. Running it through the filter will cost you pennies instead of the dollars that bottled water costs. Not only is it cheap, but if you are drinking water then you will drink less of other expensive drinks like pop.
X is for eXercise. Keeping healthy and fit through exercise will help you to be frugal in life in general. It is very expensive to be sick or unhealthy.
Y is for taking care of Yourself. The more you can be self sufficient in taking care of yourself and your things the better financial shape you will be in. The less dependent on others you can be the better.
Z is for zero debt. If you make it your goal in life to not carry debt (a mortgage is the only debt I think is OK) you will always save more money than someone that does carry debt. It is always going to be cheaper to not owe other people money.