I want you to rethink your values, particularly those related to money. Focus on what you've determined is really important in your life and the lives of your family members. We get so caught up in our lifestyles that we fail to realize we're spending a great deal of our money on things that don't even fit into our value system.
This Instructable gives you 21 tips for simplification that might work for you. Perhaps they'll help you think of other ways that you can cut back financially, slow down, and enjoy the things that really matter. These tips will help you get started on a life-long journey of frugality.
Step 1: Stop Unnecessary Shopping.
I'm not suggesting that you never buy anything again, but that your spending should become a planned act, purchasing the goods and services you need, not spur-of-the-moment, impulsive spending.
(Photos: asnagpal, Alton Ryder)
Step 2: Pay With Cash Only.
Step 3: Keep a Daily and Weekly Spending Record.
First, keep a daily spending record for thirty days or one month. This is simply a written account of the money you spend during a specific day. Writing it down is the only way to find out where all of your money is going. Each time you spend cash, write a check, use your credit card, or use your debit card--write it down.
Accumulate seven days of spending records for one week. Accumulate four weeks of spending records for one month. Then you'll be able to create your monthly budget based on what you've spent over the last month.
Print Daily Spending Record
Print Weekly Spending Record
Step 4: Find and Buy the Cheapest Gas.
Simply type your city and state in the "Search for Local Gas Prices" search box, click "Search," and you will see a list of the lowest priced gas in your area as of the last 24 hours.
As you can see, if you are a member of one of the major warehouse retailers like Costco, BJ's, or Sam's Club, you'll probably find cheaper gas than at the other stations like Exxon, Shell, or Citgo.
Step 5: Keep Your Car Tires Filled.
Keeping your tires properly inflated should increase your gas mileage by up to 10 percent.
Step 6: Grocery Shop With a List.
Remember Step 1: Staying out of the store unless absolutely necessary will decrease your exposure time and your temptation.
(Photo: Bruce Turner)
Step 7: Be Brand Flexible.
An 18-oz. jar of Jif brand peanut butter at Walmart costs $2.98. The same size jar of Great Value brand at Walmart costs $2.56. That's a difference of 42 cents! Imagine how much you could save if you switched all of your name brand products with the store brand.
(Photos: hectorir, chapendra)
Step 8: Use Sale Ads.
Step 9: Plan Meals Carefully at Your Favorite Grocery Store.
- You choose your meal plan according to your eating style, family size, and grocery store.
- Each week you'll receive your meal plan, complete with seven dinner recipes (including entrees and side dishes) and shopping list--directly to your email inbox.
- Take your shopping list that's coordinated with the weekly sales at your favorite grocery store and enjoy healthy, home-cooked meals at a bargain.
(Photos: sixcherriesontop, A Pretty Rock, ihopeh)
Step 10: Use Coupons.
If you are really serious about slashing your grocery bill, here are some web sites that can help you find good deals:
To organize your coupons, consider purchasing the CouponPro binder with coupon pocket pages, divider, shoulder strap, and built-in storage compartments.
(Photo: Hobbies on a Budget)
Step 11: Eat Lunch and Breakfast for Dinner.
- When eating out at a restaurant for dinner, ask to see and order from the lunch menu, request the lunch portion of the entree you select, or eat half of the dinner portion and box up the other half for tomorrow's lunch. On average, you will save about 20 percent; plus you'll have a lighter meal and avoid overeating.
- Instead of cooking the typical meat and potatoes for dinner, try having "breakfast" for the evening meal instead. Bacon, eggs, and pancakes can be a delicious, time saving twist to the end of a long day.
(Photos: Orange County Girl, Guzzle and Nash)
Step 12: Find a Free Bank Account.
- Enter your zip code.
- Select whether you are a Teen, College Student, Senior, or Everyone Else.
- Select your preferred institution type.
- The results will give you a list of qualifying banks in your area with their monthly and annual fees, if any.
SECU's annual fees are $0 for Choice Interest Checking; $60 for Standard Checking; and $108 for Premier Interest Checking.
Step 13: Pay Your Bills Online.
(Photos: Christophe Langlois, fiserv)
Step 14: Use Only No-fee ATMs.
(Photo: Don Spaulding)
Step 15: Wash Your Clothes in Cold Water.
(Photos: trealtsd, Roadside Pictures, wootam)
Step 16: Ease Up on Your Dishwasher.
Don't pre rinse dishes.
Better yet, to save even more energy, hand wash your dishes in the sink.
(Photos: emilyd10, suscinogual)
Step 17: Lower Your Thermostat in the Winter.
Step 18: Do a Movie Switch.
You can even cut entertainment cost by renting a DVD from a vending machine.
(Photos: Atwater Village Newbie, Frankeileon, ensun)
Step 19: Escape to the Library.
You can borrow DVDs, CDs, audio books, and of course--exciting books!
Some libraries even have story time, arts and crafts, and documentary film showings.
(Photos: mamamusings, USAY Yang San)
Step 20: Go for a Walk and Exercise in Your Neighborhood.
Instead of paying for a gym membership, go for walks around your neighborhood for exercise.
Step 21: Be a Tourist in Your Own City.
For example, if you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, the Baltimore Tourism Association makes it easy to choose activities to fit your recreation needs.
(Photos: rarayanme, National US Museum)
Step 22: The Result Is That You Spend Less Than You Make and Save Money.
You probably don't need to eliminate one area entirely, but rather cut back a little bit in every area.
Strive to get the very best value you can for each dollar and fully enjoy the things you have or make use of.