Ten Ways to Save Money and Live Frugally

With the rising costs associated with daily life, it really pays off to live a little more frugally these days. Save your pennies and dimes! (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)With just a few small adjustments to your lifestyle, you can save a bundle. To save yourself some money and find ways to improve your financial situation, try these ten ways to save money and live frugally.

1. Create a budget and stick with it. Allot yourself a certain amount of money for certain things each month. The best method I have found so far is working with the envelope method. Assign an envelope to each category for which you will need money in a given month – perhaps one for grocery money, one for general spending money, and so forth. (I suggest $50 a month if that fits your personal budget- then you get roughly $12.50 a week for guilty pleasures. Now, don’t you feel like you’re a kid again, waiting for your allowance?)

If you discipline yourself and avoid spending every red cent, you can roll over your allotments to the next week’s budget. You can even borrow from the surplus of one if you are desperate to fulfill another need. Just be careful not to go overboard because the worst thing you can do is dig yourself into a financial trench.

2. Save going out to eat for special occasions.
Wednesday, aka “Hump Day” or the halfway point of your workweek, does not qualify as a special occasion. Nor does the long-awaited Friday, the Monday blues or any other made-up work related excuse.

Welcoming a promotion, celebrating your birthday, anniversary or other holiday, and spending an evening out on a date are all acceptable reasons for enjoying a meal in a dining establishment. You don’t have to give up on eating out altogether, but use the discretion within your conscience rather than that of your stomach.

If you are extra ambitious or if you merely find yourself craving that fast food combo meal a bit too often, designate a glass jar or other container to be your honorary savings jar. Whenever you really want to eat out, try to restrain yourself and put the money you would have spent in the jar.

3. Bring your lunch to work or school. Save money by cooking your meal at home and bringing it in, or pack leftovers. Don’t like leftovers? Tough. Learn. Use discipline and save the money so that one day you can afford to eat out wherever you like.

That cheeseburger meal with steaming fries may sound good and may truly make your mouth water when the guy in the next cube brings one back to his desk, but think about how much more you would love to have your dream car, a boat or even a new laptop. Sure it will take some time, but with the right savings plan and some serious discipline, anything is possible.

Set up a savings plan. (Photo courtesy of morgueFile.com)4. Strategize. Combine your trips out in the car to reduce unnecessary driving. As the prices of gasoline continue to shoot through the roof, plan your weeks so that you run all your errands within the same trip. Go to the bank, the post office, stop in for your doctor’s appointment and then hit up the grocery store on your way home. (Note: Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s were not mentioned in this itinerary. That was not a misprint!)

5. Cut coupons. As 1985-coupon-club as it may seem, I sure wouldn’t complain about a few extra bucks in my pocket or in my bankbook, how about you? My mom is the queen of all coupon shoppers – I kid you not. She just recently went to the supermarket to take advantage of a special promotion and came home with $419.94 worth of groceries that she had finessed out of the store for a meager $210.98. She virtually cut her bill in half – and you can, too, with the right mindset, discipline and arsenal of coupons stashed away in your purse.

6. Start a vegetable garden. With fresh produce prices on the rise, you can’t go wrong by growing your own. As a child, my best friend and I used to cart away our moms’ garden goods to the shopping center at the top of our street. We sat up there on a blanket with a money bag and a sign, collecting summer cash from passers-by and those who happened to be in the mood for a slice of Jack’s Pizza, new riding equipment for equestrians, or perhaps a sweet confection, all available from various merchants. Nowadays, somebody would probably slap us with a fine or send us home to mom, telling us we needed a license to sell things. Thankfully, in the days of our early entrepreneurship, we learned the value of earning one’s keep and keeping a hold of it!

7. Don’t do your food shopping on an empty stomach! Many people believe that shopping for groceries while you are hungry is one of the worst things one can do, for the simple reason that if your stomach is growling, you will be more inclined to impulse buy. Hmm, that pepperoni looks good. Ooh…donuts! …and cookies, and candy, and ice cream, and potato chips, and fried chicken, and pizza… And eventually the cashier begins to wonder if you are pregnant – regardless of your sex – simply based on the gluttonous array of junk food and entrees safely stashed in your shopping cart. Better check out – after you’ve had something to eat to tide you over!

8. When bargain hunting, learn the art of discretion. If you didn’t come out specifically looking for it, you probably don’t need it. If you can’t think of a significant use for it within about 45 seconds (a gift for someone, to replace something that is old and decrepit in your house…), you probably don’t need it.

Sometimes some deals are just too good to pass up – like a $55 designer sweater for $1.95 at the Bon Ton, or a business suit in exactly your size for $5. No lie – these are actual bargains that I have sniffed out and taken advantage of. I can also tell you that I have three extras of those sweaters and three other shirts I got at the same price that have no home but a bag cluttering up my room. I’m sure I saved my receipt but I may have waited too long to make the return. (Find out from your stores how long you have to make a return or exchange if you think you might need to know.)

9. Save your receipts.
You never know when the time might come that you will need them. OK, so if you did go out and get that burger meal against my advice, you really don’t have to feel bad destroying the evidence. I can’t really think of a time when you will need a receipt for a cheeseburger – and besides, that is something one would expect not to return!

Many stores will allow their consumers to return unopened merchandise as long as a receipt is presented at the time of return, unless otherwise posted. Some stores also value the customer’s business enough to accept opened makeup that the shopper did not like, as well as some other items that have been unwrapped.

10. Skim out a little of your paycheck for safekeeping. When you get your paycheck each pay period, make a commitment to yourself to set a certain amount aside for general savings. You should have a savings account at your bank into which you can easily deposit funds. Once you get into the habit of setting that money aside, it will sta
rt to add up and garner interest.

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