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There is definitely a big difference in being frugal, and being cheap. A good example is the fact that frugal people care about the value of something, and how much they need it, as opposed to a cheap person, who only cares about the cost.
Further, someone frugal will stick to a budget and not buy something cheap if they can’t afford the more quality item, and won’t buy it unless it is absolutely necessary - but someone cheap will buy the cheapest thing available, without concern about quality.
Now that we’ve defined cheap vs. frugal, lets look at some ways to be truly frugal, without making your friends refuse to go out for a meal with you, or your family want to buy things behind your back!
Why be frugal?
People who are frugal can usually afford much more than the cheapskate. Because they spend less than they earn, using the overage to pay off debt, or invest.
Being conscious of money and where it goes is probably what everyone should be practicing because it allows people to retire early, have more of a vibrant life in their golden years, and not get into heavy debt because they’ve thought about what is actually important, and what is not.
Frugal people don’t go out and buy a new car, just because they want the newest model, they settle for the most conservative and least expensive used car. They buy smaller houses, for a bargain, but don’t give up quality. They watch their money, but splurge when the occasion calls for a celebration of quality, etc. and most times, because they can afford it.
Steps to being more frugal:
First – thinking about the future, and your financial health is a great start. Going with one car instead of two, because even though it’s convenient, it costs too much more for that second car in return for the little inconvenience of sharing a car with your spouse.
If you live in a huge home, with spare rooms, you’re not being sensible (frugal). We only need enough space for us to be comfortable, and not crowded. Sell that huge home, and buy something that only requires about 30 percent of your monthly income.
Get rid of credit cards:
Everyone knows who benefits with credit cards –the credit card companies. Paying interest is a waste of money, and getting rid of them will eliminate the tendency of impulse buying. If you have to pay cash, it’s a little more difficult to purchase, and hopefully that cash is allocated to other things.
Sticking to budget:
Having a budget can be one of the most financially rewarding things you do. It allows you to keep track of your hard earned cash, as well as steers your ship the right way. If you don’t budget for something, you don’t buy it – period.
Even if you do budget for it, and an unforeseen expense arises, such as a vehicle emergency, or medical emergency, that money goes towards the emergency and not the item you wanted. With a budget you can’t overspend if you stick to it religiously.
Rarely buy new:
If you need another car, a cell phone, a computer or anything else that is an actual necessity, never buy new, ever. You can find such bargains on places such as Craigslist, Freecycle, EBay or other auction sites. A friend bought her 12 year old a top of the line iPod, for ½ price because it was used, and refurbished. The kid didn’t care and was so excited to have the music gadget that it brought joy, without really hurting the pocketbook.
Frugal people never buy new – it is a waste of money.
Eat out almost never:
Some of the biggest unforeseen expenses in our lives are the ‘eating out’ expense. It seems as if it is a necessity, so we write it off as such, but it can be an expense that ranges into the thousands in a years time.
Restaurants are not cheap, so when you want to eat, fix something at home. The food you buy at a grocery store will cost pennies to the dollar of restaurant food, and when you cook at home you can freeze leftovers for another day, saving even more.
Lose the vanity:
Everyone wants to look their best, of course, but buying the latest outfits, shoes and accessories gets pretty pricey. Buy a few things that allow you to exchange outfits, such as a few nice pair of slacks or jeans, a few nice shirts – some for summer, some for winter and a couple pairs of shoes.
There is no reason to have more than a few pair of shoes, or more clothing than will fit into a dresser drawer.
Sell on EBay or Craigslist:
All of the items you acquired before becoming frugal can benefit you if you put them up for sale. That will not only give you less space requirements, it will earn you a little cash for that retirement savings, or nest egg.
Go through the items you no longer wear, and either modernize, alter or get rid of them.
Stop shopping at malls and department stores:
This is the single most important thing in becoming frugal. Shopping, even window-shopping at the top stores can create some pretty big impulse buying mistakes. You see something you just have to have and out go the logic and common sense.
Try going to a ‘discount store’, and find items of interest there, or buy only on sale at stores that are less trendy and expensive.
I think you get the general idea, but there are so many other suggestions, such as walking, hiking and jogging instead of joining a gym. Going to free concerts, art shows and things that don’t cost a lot of money. Staying home more than going out… reading, having friends over, etc.
When you live consciously, you live frugally.
Kristy Ramirez is a frugal mom and personal finance writer for Life Insurance Finder, where she helps others save money by comparing life insurance quotes and helping them select the best policy for their needs.
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