Man And Woman Doing Budget Together

Frugality may be the key to living well!

Do you think living a frugal life would make you feel deprived? Wait, before you think that I am going to suggest that you use rainwater to hand wash your laundry and live entirely off the grid spending only $1.00 per day……let me assure you that you don’t have to go to such extremes to make a significant dent in your expenses.

After meeting with several of our members over the past year, I found that when assisting them with their household budgets, that they would benefit from the ways I have learned to live more frugally. Here are a few principles that may help your family as well. Feel free to evaluate these tips by yourself or discuss them as a family:

Choose your splurge category: When I evaluate and make suggestions about a member’s budgeting expenses, I ask specific questions to determine what they really don’t want to live without.  Perhaps their main social activity is dining out, or it’s having an extensive wardrobe, or it could just be that getting a coffee at a local coffee shop is their “can’t live” without daily routine. Individually these spending categories could fit into your budget, but you may realize your budget cannot support them all. Pick one category that you don’t want to live without and reduce or eliminate your spending on the others.

Eat simply and healthy:  There are thousands, possibly millions, of web pages that offer recipes using few (3 to 5) ingredients or less. Try searching some of these pages for inspiration on how to make meals for less. Also, encourage everyone in your household to eat what is in the refrigerator, cupboard, or pantry first before going grocery shopping again. Buying seasonal produce, shopping sales and using store reward programs can also save you money on groceries.

Prioritize experiences over “stuff”: To live a more decluttered and frugal life, my husband and I started organizing our home by selling or getting rid of stuff that we no longer need or value. It’s a liberating experience! We live by the following mantra, “If we will not use it frequently and it doesn’t bring us happiness, it doesn’t come into our house.” Instead of collecting “stuff,” collect memories! Plan low-cost activities with your family and snap a few photos as a keepsake. A fun afternoon activity can give you more long-term happiness than any “have to have” item that typically ends up at a future yard sale anyway.

Spend time with frugal people: If you have family or friends that like to live the “high roller” lifestyle, it can be detrimental to your budget as you strive to “keep up with the Joneses.” Consider having an honest conversation with family and friends who suggest expensive dining restaurants, sporting events or shopping trips and let them know that though you love spending time with them, you need to keep your financial goals in mind, too. Perhaps you could offer less expensive ideas that fit within your budget.

Set aside a few “guilt-free” dollars:  Once you have a handle on your budget (and be sure to call me if you need help), it’s important that you identify a specific amount of money slated just for you, as well as the other members in your household, and label those funds as “guilt-free” dollars. This can be as little as $2.00 per week to spend on a treat, snack or some other guilty pleasure. It gives you and other family members the flexibility to choose how the money is spent without guilt because those specific dollars are not allocated to other household expenses. Here’s the kicker though…once that designated amount is spent for the week, you’re done spending until the next week. Period! It’s tough at first, but it gets easier, I promise!

Living frugally is not a bad thing, it’s just about balance. If you need a little helping getting your budget in balance, please email me at tverzoni@newdimensionsfcu.com, or call me at (207) 313-5924. I’d be glad to help!

Until next time ~

Tanya