Save hundreds of dollars per month
Now that the economy is changing, people are holding onto their cash and spending more time looking for free or reduced items.
- Go with one car. Many families have two or more cars. Besides your house, your car is probably your most expensive item. If you can do with one, you should. My wife and I both work, and we have six kids, and yet we have learned to manage with one car.
- Go with a smaller house. Just because you can afford a larger house, doesn’t mean you should live in one. Live in as small a house as you can and still be comfortable. I don’t mean you should live in a one-room apartment with a family of four … you know what I mean. You can save thousands a year with a smaller house. Many times, if you get rid of a lot of clutter, you don’t need a large house.
- Go with a smaller car. Again, you can save thousands by going with a smaller car. A car instead of an SUV, for example, is a big savings. Be comfortable, but don’t overdo it. You’ll save a lot on gas this way too.
- Look for used first. If you need something — I mean really need it, not just want it — see if someone you know has one that they don’t use or need anymore. Send out an email to family or friends, or just ask around. You might be surprised. If no one you know owns one, try freecycle.org or craigslist.org. Then look to buy used, at garage sales or thrift shops. You can find a bargain if you look around.
- Eat out less. One of the biggest expenses in our daily lives is eating out — the average person spends well over $2,000 a year on eating out. Restaurants are expensive, including fast-food (not to mention the health hazards). It’s much cheaper to cook your own food.
- Brown bag it to work. Instead of eating out for lunch, bring your lunch.
- Adopt a minimalist wardrobe. This tip won’t be for everybody, but I try for a minimalist wardrobe. Plain, solid colors are great. Everything goes with everything else, and I don’t have too many clothes.
- Stop online impulse buys. This was a problem for me before I canceled my credit card. I used to buy online a couple of times a week. Now I buy maybe once every couple of months, using PayPal or someone else’s credit card. I’m not saying you have to go to this extreme, but realize that online buying can be way too easy (you don’t even have to go to a store) and therefore, we make too many impulse buys. Buy online if you really need something and it’ll save you money, but beware the impulse buy. See 30-day list tip below.
- Don’t shop. Don’t go to the mall or other shopping area or department store to look around and shop. Go to a store if you know what you need, and then get out. Many times people go shopping, with a vague idea of what they want, and get caught up buying much more. Or they go just for fun, as a form of entertainment. That ends up costing a lot. It can really add up. Instead, stay away from shopping areas and find other ways to have fun.
- Use a 30-day list. To curb impulse buys, create a 30-day list. When you want to buy something, other than a true necessity (medicine or food, for example), put it on this list, with the date you added it to the list. And make it a rule that you can’t buy anything for at least 30 days after you put it on the list. And stick to it. You’ll find that you buy a lot less with this system.
- Use the library. Instead of buying books, check them out. The library often also has a great selection of DVDs, saving you even more.
- Find free entertainment. Find cheap ways to have fun. Entertainment often ends up costing a lot of money, if you go to the movies, buy concessions, or go out at night, go to the bar, etc. The average person spends about $1,800 a year on entertainment (not including eating out).
- Frugal exercise. Exercise is important, but it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
- Stay healthy. Staying healthy can save you tons of money on doctor’s visits, hospital bills, and medicine over the long run. Eat healthily, and exercise.
- Commute by bike. Even if you own a car, commuting by bike will save you gas, and get you in shape at the same time.
- Carpool or ride the bus. OK, you don’t want to bike it. So find a friend or neighbor who works near you, and arrange a carpool. Or take public transportation. Simple advice, but something a lot of people ignore.
- Walk. Often we drive to the corner store, or to a school that’s less than a mile away. Leave a few minutes early, walk, burn some calories, and save gas.
- Sell your clutter. Hold a garage sale or sell it on eBay. It’s amazing what some people will buy.
- Frugal gifting. Gifts can cost a lot of money over the course of a year. Look for ways to do it cheaply. Make a gift, or give a consummable.
- Quit smoking. Not the easiest way to save, I know. It’s hard. You save on cigarettes and of the huge, long-term medical costs.
- Alcohol in moderation. If you drink one beer or a few beers a day, that adds up to big money each month. Some drink even more than that. It’s expensive. If you can cut your drinking to the occasional party, and once in awhile with friends, you’ll save tons.
- Sweets in moderation. Desserts and sweet snacks give us lots of calories with no nutrition. And we pay a premium price for that, in dollars and in our deteriorating health. Cut back on sweets to save money and cut calories.
- Drink water. Often we drink lots of calories through sodas, coffee, alcohol, juices, tea, etc. And that costs a lot too. Drink water, save money, save calories.
- Batch your errands. Instead of running an errand or two every day, batch them into one errand day, and plan your most efficient route, to save gas and time. Also do as much bill-paying online as possible, to eliminate some errands.
More ways to live frugal