Top 5 Frugal Tips
I consider myself a bit of a 'digital nomad' of some sort; I'm less focused on going after the usual house, cars, executive career in place of a sensible but flexible lifestyle. One part of me is completely geeky (because I love computers) while the other half is a bit 'hippie' (because I love nature). The combination of the two has led me to be both 'digital' and very 'frugal'.
I believe that everyone can reduce and minify parts of their life so they have more financial freedom to do what they want. Not having to worry about money releases you of incredible amounts of stress. One way to do this is through frugal living.
Before I dig into the tips, remember that being frugal is not being cheap. A cheap person will try to get the cheapest item because they don't want to spend money; a frugal person will try to get the best item but will be sensible on how they approach getting it.
Okay, here are my top five frugal living tips ...
#1: Minify your Life
The first tip I would give you is to 'minify' your life and the stuff that you own. Rather than trying to collect everything - only go after the 'big ticket' items which have a lot more value and could even turn into assets.
'Minifying' your life can include consolidation of your entertainment into one place, such as to a computer, which becomes your main source of said entertainment - you end up saving tons of money from cable bills, renting movies, music and more.
Minifying your life may also entail the things that you own. Instead of having a wardrobe of hundreds of items; just have a dozen sets of clothes and stick with them until you outgrow them. This can go the same for your eating habits by avoiding random spending at the grocery store and sticking to a set type of diet.
#2: Reduce the 'Upgrades'
If you can, try not to upgrade your gadgets and items unless you truly need to. Just because your phone doesn't do a certain function your friend does, doesn't mean you need to rush out and spend $300 on a new phone. Be happy with what you got and get the most out of what you own by avoiding doing constant upgrades and 'keeping up with the Jones's'.
If you do upgrade, purchase quality items that are going to replace a couple of your older gadgets at a time. For example, replace your MP3 player, phone and old computer with a tablet computer or high end phone. Replace your car with something fuel efficient that will save you thousands of dollars on gas. Apply this logic to other things you plan to upgrade so you can get the most out of your purchase, reduce the amount of items you use and have a gadget that is going to last you many years instead of needing replacing just a few months down the line.
If anything, keep your car for as long as possible by doing regular maintenance so you don't have a new car bill every few years; even millionaires still drive cars that are 10 - 15 years old; maybe they're on to something?
#3: Stay In More Frequently
Although we all want to go out and have a fun time - this makes you spend a lot of money going out to eat, getting drinks, watching movies and more. On top of that, if you go out with friends are you are likely to match their spending habits which may put you over your spending budget within a single night and, thus, put stress on your shoulders when it comes to bill paying time.
Instead, stay in more frequently. Have a few nights of the week that are family movie nights or some kind of intimate time with your loved ones. Stay in and work on a business from home or write for fun (like on Hubpages). Cutting out just one or two nights from going out each week will end up saving you thousands of dollars each year which you could put toward purchasing those 'big ticket' items such as a newer car or vacation you've been meaning to take.
As a bonus, learn to cook. Cooking can be loads of fun especially when you do it with others. Not only will you save money from eating out but you'll have a great time and learn a great skill; you're not going out, trying to find cheap food, you're being frugal by staying in and cooking instead.
Start your own projects and do-it-yourself. Rather than purchasing a product, try making it instead. You may not get it spot on but it will be tons of fun in the meantime because you'll have created something from your own imagination and work. Think of it like a hobby or art!
Websites like DIYNetwork and Instructables have thousands of awesome projects that you can work on that not only gives you something really fun to do but because you're putting your time these projects you're saving yourself a lot of money each year; you're not being cheap by purchasing the most inexpensive items but, instead, creating your own!
#5: Wait 30 Days
One tip I was turned on to was the '30 day rule' which is nothing more than writing down what you want to purchase and then waiting 30 days. If you still want the item at the 30 day mark than go ahead and get it.
You see, people are prone to impulse buys which is one of the biggest reasons why people are in debt, out of shape and stressed (because of the lack of money in the long-run). By forcing yourself to wait 30 days before buying a product, you will reason with yourself whether or not it really matters and will end up saying 'no' to a lot of things that could have become a complete waste of money. Additionally, waiting those 30 days also gives you a good idea of what products you could be logically upgrading and taking the time to find better deals online!
Frugal Living, Minimal Lifestyle and You
I don't consider myself a minimalist but I have a lot of the traits because I rather focus on only having the 'bare essentials'. It may surprise you but I have very few items; I have my computer, a couple changes of clothes, a car and a few gadgets. Although I don't own a lot, I don't have debt and I'm able to travel whenever I please because I can save money very easily since I'm not wasting it on things I don't really need.
Minimalism may not be for you but I do find it very eye-opening to those that haven't really tried applying it to their lives. Life is amazing when you don't have stress from money and being 'locked down' to your lifestyle; you can start whatever projects you want and do the things you've been meaning to do without worrying about whether 'you'll lose it all'.
I say: take a look into minimalism; you don't need to apply it to your life but you may find aspects of it that can help. A great side effect of minimalism is that you naturally start to become frugal in nature.