I often get the label of frugal. I find this strange. It surprises me that people see me that way, since I don’t really consider myself especially frugal. I suppose it depends on your point of view. Compared to some I am exceedingly frugal. Compared to others I am wasteful. And that’s right where I like to be, between the extremes.
There definitely is a scale of frugality. Everyone lies somewhere between extreme spending and extreme frugality. This blog as helped me move towards frugality on that scale.
If you would like to be more frugal but can’t seem to get started, here are some tips.
1. Track your spending: If you are not tracking your spending then this is where you should start. It’s the road map to good financial skills. You can’t know where you are, where you want to be, or how to get there if you don’t have an idea of how you are spending your money.
2. Start small: You don’t have to wake up one morning and have a brand new set of habits. Work on them slowly over time. Pick one area of your spending to work on at a time. You can start with groceries. If that’s still overwhelming, break it down even further, start with meat. Go through the grocery ads and only look at the meats. After a while you will get an idea of what the various meats should cost. When there is a good deal, and when it is all just smoke and mirrors. Scoring a few good deals give you confidence. Then you’ll get curious about what else is in those ads. Before you know it, you will use them to plan your meals and stock up on all your groceries.
You might not want to start with groceries. That’s fine. You can start with your laundry, or entertainment, or gas for your car, or your bathroom stuff. Whatever. Just start looking for ways to spend less money in your chosen category. Once you feel like you’ve made significant progress then…
3. Branch out: Once you feel like you have the grocery bill under control start looking at other areas. Eventually you will be always be looking to shave a few bucks off your total. Always thinking, could I get this cheaper? Will this make it to the next markdown? Can I find a coupon online? Can I get free shipping?
4. Take it easy: Don’t get so caught up in finding a great deal that you buy things you have no use for. This is harder than it sounds because getting a good deal can be addicting. You know how I feel about coupons. They aren’t bad but just because something is 90% off doesn’t mean that you need it. If it’s not something you would buy anyways then you aren’t being frugal. You can’t spend money to save money.
Are you already frugal? What tips can you give to those just starting out?