There is a huge movement in this country of people who are learning to live within their means rather than using credit cards and other forms of credit that can get you seriously into debt. While some may laugh at those who make their own home cleaning products, and freeze their leftovers, there is something to be said for learning to live frugally and within your means. For one thing you can save money a lot easier, and for another you can actually make extra cash. Here are 10 tips for living frugally.
1. Clear out the clutter. One of the first things it is crucial to learn to do if you want to live frugally is to clear out the clutter. Most of us are like pack rats holding on to old furniture, clothes, toys and even art supplies way past the time we should. Think how much money you could save if you take the time to slowly go through your house, and storage lockers and begin getting rid of those things which you do not use now and will probably never use again. You may find you never need to pay for extra storage again, and just think of what you could do with the extra money!
2. Organize your home. For everything a place, and a place for everything is an old saying, but it is also a true saying. Once you have cleared the clutter from your home and any other storage areas you have (and hopefully gotten rid of the ones you are paying monthly fees for), designate a place for everything in every room. This does not have to be done overnight, in fact it will work better if you do a little bit at a time until you complete the project, even if it takes you several months or a year.
3. Instead of getting rid of and replacing clothing that may only be missing a button, or needs a patch on the knee, do the repairs. Make a time each month to check for clothing that needs minor repairs and then do them. Now the money you might have spent purchasing something to replace these clothing items can either be saved or used for something else you really want or need.
4. When you shop use coupons. Make it a point to clip coupons, I usually do mine on Saturdays after purchasing the early Sunday edition of the paper, that way when I go shopping I will have the coupons already clipped for that week. There are also many places online that you can look for coupons to use. Also, have a way to organize your coupons for shopping so you are not losing them or digging around in your purse for them while you’re in line.
5. Take advantage of rebates. Many of us don’t take the time to apply for rebates, but we should. You can save a significant amount of money on everything from toothpaste to computers just by saving your receipt, the packaging the item came in, and filling out a little form to send in. It’s worth it, and the money you get back can be funneled back into your savings, or used for other much-needed items.
6. Sell those items you are no longer using which are in good condition. Have a garage sale, or if you live in an apartment, sell your items in good condition online. The money you earn can be recycled back into your finances for other items, to pay bills, or just put into your savings account.
7. Eat at home, or brown bag instead of eating out. It’s amazing how many people get into trouble financially because they are using their credit cards to eat out several times a week. If instead of eating lunch and/or dinner out, you brown bagged your lunch, and then had dinner at home, you would save all that money you are spending on eating out. It is a sad day when you are still paying on a credit card used for meals from a year ago, and you cannot even realize any kind of tangible gain from these expenses. You can’t drive nor wear the deli sandwich you ate a year ago but are still paying on in credit card interest fees this year!
8. When it comes to clothes, have only what you actually wear plus a few extras in your closet. Many of us have closets filled with clothes that we never wear, we may have our “skinny” clothes, or our “work” clothes, or our clothes from by-gone eras that we can’t bear to part with and such. But how many of these clothes do we actually wear? Probably only a small percentage of what is in our closet. Instead we have favorites, and we wear these until they wear out, and then go looking for new favorites. We may have a few “nice” clothes that we save for church, or weddings, but other than that, the rest of what is in our closets sits unused. Get rid of what you are not wearing. You only need enough clothes for about 10 days, and then a few outfits for work and special occasions. Sell your good items to a consignment shop, online, or have a garage sale and then use the money for savings or to buy a few new or at least new to you items!
9. When it comes to furniture, go for the spare look. The idea with furniture is not to fill up every free amount of space with something, instead only have furniture items that you actually use and which you like to look at. For example if you have a small living room, and a tiny kitchen, don’t purchase a dining room table and chairs, and try to cram them into your living room along with a couch, easy chair, and bookcases, they either aren’t going to fit, or it’s going to look as though you have no space. Instead get stools that you pull up to a counter or bar so you have a place to eat meals. This will also save you money on food and liquid spillage on your carpets! Also you will find that your living space seems larger when you go for the spare look.
10. Buy second-hand and discounted. When you are purchasing anything see if you can buy it second-hand or at a huge discount. There are even discounted grocery stores such as the Canned Foods stores in Oregon that have frozen foods, canned foods, bread, cheese and even meat in some cases at large discounts. Also, you can often find new or nearly new items at thrift stores, garage sales, and online if you make the effort to look around.
These are my favorite tips for living frugally which I have found when applied saved me the most money. I hope you find them just as useful!