Some people are naturally frugal, but others come to frugality because they want to save money for some objective such as saving for their children’s college education or their own retirement.
Others learn to cut corners because they have less money due to job loss or pay raises that never come.
Whatever your situation, if you have decided to become more frugal, here are some steps you can take today to keep more money in your pocket:
Ways to Be Frugal Right Now
1. Start cooking at home
You don’t have to eat beans and rice every night to save money on your food.
How many times a week do you go out to eat?
To begin with, cut that amount in half. If you eat out 4 times a week, reduce that to 2 times a week. Later you may want to reduce it further, but don’t go overboard right now.
Start cooking meals at home. Take the leftovers to work. You will be amazed how much money this simple technique can save, and I am talking hundreds or even thousands of dollars over a year’s time. If you want to save even more, have meatless meals a few times a week.
If you argue that you don’t have time to cook at home, consider freezer cooking or using your slow cooker, both of which make putting meals on the table much quicker and easier.
2. Cancel services you no longer need
Take a close look at your finances. Are you still paying a monthly recurring gym membership fee even though you haven’t been to the gym since February?
Peter at Bible Money Matters calls these types of expenses zombie accounts; he has an entire list of unneeded expenses you may be paying.
After reading his list, I found three different zombie accounts to ax: a recurring Weight Watchers membership that I never used, a $3 monthly fee to have my bank statement sent to me instead of getting it online, and $8 for call waiting and caller ID on my phone. I saved $51 a month just by getting rid of these unused services.
3. Call your credit card companies to negotiate the APR if you carry a balance
Of course, if you have a balance, your priority should be to pay it off, but I don’t need to tell you that. One way you can pay it off quicker is to negotiate your annual APR and your annual fee, if you have one. I recently did this and shaved 3% off my interest as well as received enough reward points to cover the cost of my annual fee.
4. Call other companies to negotiate your rates
Have you tried to negotiate your monthly cost for cable or satellite service? The companies prefer to negotiate with you rather than lose you as a customer. Most will offer to reduce your rate for at least 6 months. My cable company told me explicitly that they will negotiate with customers for a lower rate for 6 months; then they ask that you pay the current rate for 4 months before you negotiate again for another 6 months of discounted services.
5. Find easy ways to save around the home
True, you may have to spend a bit to implement these strategies, but the savings can be significant.
Have you installed a programmable thermostat? You can lower the temperature when no one is home, and then set it to automatically increase before you get home, saving you money.
We always dry our laundry on a drying rack rather than running the dryer. It only takes a few minutes of time, and we save by not running the dryer. The clothes also last longer.
There are other simple ways you can save at home such as saving all your baking for the same day and time so you only run the oven once.
6. Evaluate what you spend your money on that gives you joy
We often get in a rut of spending money on the same things even though we no longer value them.
I used to enjoy picking up a Caramel Frappuccino at Starbucks once or twice a month because it was a treat. Then I started picking them up more often, and my pleasure began to diminish. Now I hardly ever buy them, but when I do, I really enjoy the drink. I am spending less money but getting greater pleasure from the money I do spend.
Do you have things that you spend your money on that no longer bring you joy? Consider beverages, foods, eating out, shopping and the latest technological gadgets.
7. Be aware of your spending triggers
One of the best ways to save money is to understand what motivates you to spend money (rational or irrational–think, I feel better after I have gone shopping) and how you can replace the careless money spending with more conscious spending. It is also important to recognize the way companies market to us and how we can avoid falling into their spending trap.
This is just a short list of ways to help you begin being frugal. There are many, many other ways, and most of them don’t diminish the quality of your life.
What are your favorite frugal techniques?