frugal living and having fun: live like a king on a jester's salary
What exactly is Frugal Living? Frugal living is living better for less... or simply living within your means but, at the same time, without any regrets. Frugal living gives people the opportunity to live the life of a King on a Jester's salary. Below, I will provide step-by-step guidelines to help you live a simple and meaningful life, regardless of your income. While this article is more geared for the struggling college student and money saving mom, I also believe that it could be relevant to your uncommon CEO's, successful business owners, and trust fund babies out there (since I am sure there are many of you out there googling "frugal living".I will cover several different topics including: How to save money, simple living, money-saving websites, and for those of you who aren't satisfied with the basics, extreme frugal living. If for some reason this article does not answer all your questions, please feel free to leave me a comment and I will be sure to get to it just as soon as I can. Also, if you ave any additional frugal living tips and advice, please also feel free to send a comment so that all the readers get the most value out of their time on this site.
How to save money
Saving money is a skill. It is not a natural disposition, a God-given ability, or a reflection of how someone was raised. It is a skill. The wonderful thing about skills is that they are a learned ability. Therefore (and some of you probably caught on by now...), you can learn to save money! No matter what your previous life experiences, family background, or income, you need to realize that you can increase your skill in saving money. It doesn't happen overnight... no real skills do. It takes time, it takes discipline, it takes the realization that money does not buy happiness, and that regardless of the perks that money does bring, there is no greater feeling than living simply.
Before I start going into details on how to save money, I first would like to explain/argue why I feel that (as I mentioned above) there is not greater feeling than living simply:
Living simply is uncomplicated... The world we live in today promotes consumption, competition, and profit, and most people follow along blindly. There are no advantages living this type of life, all it seems to bring is stress, debt, and a never ending cycle of greed passed on from generation to generation.
Anyway, to get back on track... there are several ways to save money. Some are easy, some are hard, and some should only be attempted by those interested in extreme frugal living (still a bit further down...). Let's start with the 3 easy ways to save money...
3 easy ways to save money:
1. Budget - Take a close look at your weekly spending and pick out the things you can do without. Common examples of weekly spending that add up to big dollars are eating out, entertainment, and clothing purchases. There are numerous online budgeting tools such as Kiplinger and Mint.com which have great free software that you can use to see where your spending is exceeding your will to living simply and frugally.
2. Automatic Savings - After looking at your budget, talk to your employer and set up direct deposit into two separate accounts. One into a checking account for your necessities (mortgage, insurance, food, etc...) and one into a savings or money market account. By automatically setting this up you will, for lack of a better word, be FORCED to save.
3. Use Coupons - There are a number of printed and online coupons available out there that can really start add up over time. I would definitely take a look at groupon.com and livingsocial.com to find discounted goods and services in your area. There are also several other great money saving websites (a simple google search for "great money saving websites" should point you in the right direction but some of my favorites are: woot.com and 5dollardinners.com... craigslist is also a good resource...)
Specific tips to living simply and frugally...
There is not one specific way to live simply and frugally, but, the following suggestions are a great starting point as a way to save money:
* Cancel your cable - Get an account with Netflicks for about a quarter to a tenth of the cost (depending on what cable package you have)... or, better yet, borrow them for free from the library.
*Stop drinking pop - It's not good for you anyway... too much sugar. Some articles I have read also suggest that you will lose 5 pounds over a year if you stop.
*Brew your own coffee - Buying Starbucks is an insane and over-rated waste of money
*Carpool to work - Gas prices keep skyrocketing
*Start a garden - Hard work, but worth the effort. Some veggies like potatoes, cucumbers, and squash can be harvested every year without replanting.
*Barter - Are you good with cars? Maybe your accountant neighbor could use a tune up on his El Camino in exchange for some tax preparation.
*Ceiling fans - Why waste electricity on air conditioning. A ceiling fan can ventilate the house and make it feel cooler.
*Coupons - Easy to use, easy to save... you are gonna buy it anyway.
*Cancel your gym membership - Take the stairs, walk your dog, shovel snow, do pushups and sit ups... keeping in shape doesn't have to cost money.
*Never lease a car - Buy a quality used car and keep it until it dies (but don't skimp on maintaining it...)
*Live in a smaller house - Smaller house = Smaller cost... not only the mortgage, but the energy bill too.
Money Saving Websites
There are many money saving websites out there (some of which I mentioned before), but here is a list for you to consider as you challenge yourself to live a frugal life:
homeaway.com - vacation/rental site
framesdirect.com - glasses and contacts discounts
dealzconnection.com - lots of great deals
ebates.com - coupons and promotions of local deals
Extreme Frugal Living
For those of you who are still interested in extreme frugal living, I commend you... I couldn't do it myself, but thought I should still provide you with the opportunity if you are so inclined.
Warning: The last few are intended to be humorous (If we can't laugh at ourselves, who else is going to feel comfortable doing so...)
*Wash only full loads of laundry and line dry
*Ditch your cell phones and only use a land line
*Sell your car and get a bus pass
*Only shop second-hand stores
*Volunteer at a soup kitchen for the free meals
*Raise your own egg-laying chickens and meat rabbits
*Water down your soup
*Rinse and re-use paper towels
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