When my husband and I first married, we had no choice but to live frugally. I was grateful that I had learned so much from my mom (who raised a family of 6 on one income) about couponing and rebates.. but moreso that my parents taught me the value of buying only what you need. I’ve learned over the years that it is important for us to be as debt-free as possible (I’d say debt-free entirely minus the mortgage… but the last few months have taught me that is not always possible) and to spend our money wisely. For example, once we were able to buy a home we opted for a townhouse and mortgage payment which was well below what the bank said we could afford (though I must admit that I have no idea how we could have afforded what they thought we could afford!) I have been very grateful for this decision over the past 4 years as we have weathered multiple job losses and income fluctuations with
no minimal worries about how we will pay the mortgage. So far, we are making it.
I am not as much into couponing as my mom was, or as I have been at other times of life. Part of that is that I have started shopping at Aldi (which doesn’t accept coupons) and that I tend to cook from scratch(ish) moreso than buying processed foods that have coupons available. (Plus, I’ll admit, I just haven’t taken the time to do so!) I have lately started paying more attention to money-saving blogs and sites such as Groupon.com or LiveFabuless.com. I’ve loved being able to receive a few freebies by blogging as well (a few books, at this point).
I realize that couponing and blogging are just part of the overall philosophy that has led to living frugally. For me, it is freeing to know that, even though there are times it doesn’t feel like a choice, this IS a lifestyle I have chosen. I am all for anything that simplifies life… and for me, simplifying the spending does that. I’m still working out what all that means to me (and our family… because sometimes it is too easy to not get everyone else’s input). I know part of it is reducing the clutter (ugh) in addition to following the budget. The upcoming holidays are a great time to start doing both.
Forwarding to you a blog post I found today and particularly liked. I am going to copy the post here to save you a click… but the original post can be found here.
8 Useful tips on how to prepare yourself for a frugal life in 2011 (reposted)
If you face trouble to manage your finances in the ever expanding cost of living, you may think of cutting down expenses. However, cutting down expenses is not the only solution; you need to change your lifestyle as soon as possible in order to survive the increasing expenses of 2011. In case you are facing monetary crisis the best way to do away with this crisis and also remain out of it in future is to start living a frugal life in 2011. Thus, go for a frugal living and stay debt-free as well as stress-free in 2011. This article provides you with information you need to know in order to prepare yourself to live frugally in 2011.
- Get clutter-free – If you want to start living frugally clear out the clutter in your house, it will not only save you money that you may have to pay for your extra storage, it may also help you gain some extra cash by selling out the things you will never need.
- Eat frugally –Avoid buying packaged and processed foods as they are much more costly. Purchase cheaper cuts of meat. Buy fruits and vegetables in season. Do not go out for grocery shopping unplanned as it results in more unexpected purchases. Make sure to make a list and buy only the essential things required.
- Don’t buy books – It may sound weird but it is better not to buy books when you can simply borrow them from the library. In case you do not re-read your books, it is better to get them from the library instead of wasting dollars on them. (Melody’s note: Not buy books? Well… okay, I refuse to not buy books but I do have standards for what I will buy and what I will borrow. I put them in the comments after a fellow book lover commented on this item!)
- Don’t buy DVDs – Don’t waste your hard-earned money by buying new DVDs when you can simply subscribe them from Netflix (US). Such a subscription allows you to watch movies of your choice but with a reasonably lower monthly fee. (Melody’s note: I have so many DVDs I want to get rid of… which gets into that making family decisions and not just my wants part of decluttering! I also have to note I make an exception for Disney DVDs!)
- Buy second hand items – Buying second hand furniture, rug, waffle makers and night lights may help you get real treasures sometimes though at a terribly affordable rate. (Melody’s notes: I also have to throw in a plug for second hand Christmas gifts and children’s items! No, not re-gifting… but we have gotten some great gifts in previous years for our little boy through using Craigslist and similar. Plus an amazing deal on a twin bed and mattress!)
- Use one car – It is better to go for one car even if you have two or more cars. It is one of the expensive items that you posses and it may have various expenses related to it like maintenance and fuel. Thus, it is better to use one car as it will be more manageable for you.
- Smaller house – Even if you can afford a large house, it is always wise to go for a smaller one. You can easily save money and also still be comfortable even if you have a smaller house to live in.
- Use free entertainment – Frugal living does not mean, you have to sacrifice all the happiness of your life. Go for entertainments that are cheap and save money while you have some fun.
I’m thankful today that I don’t have to figure all of this out on my own… and so thankful that I have learned as much about saving, spending and simplicity as I have along the way!