Steps to Start Living Frugally
- Get a detailed printout of your current monthly purchases and give it a hard look.
What are the most common things you buy? What are buying constantly
that might be considered ďextra.Ē Itís okay to cut out a little at a
time; the goal is to not alter your lifestyle, but to reduce the
expenditures that come along with it.
- Get into the habit of monitoring your finances on a weekly basis.
Set aside a solid 20-30 minutes a week to assess your money. Examine
what you spent money on and what you saved and keep track of it. Even if
you donít necessarily have a perfect day, the notes and trends you see
will help you in the long run. Wealthy people seem to never worry about
their money, but they have a very accurate pulse on their financial
situation. There are several ways to do this; Quicken, Microsoft Money,
Mint, Wesabe, Geezeo, or a simple Excel spreadsheet.
- One way to manage bills is to set up automatic payments.
It is far better to scrape by until you adjust than to miss a payment
here and/or there and have your credit report take a hit from late or
non-payment. You will also be able to judge for your budget how much you
have left over and set that money aside preemptively. Then you donít
have to worry about it, it's being paid. Important note: Keep very
specific notes on all bills you set up for auto bill pay. You are going
to consult this whenever it comes time to buy other items, like
groceries for example. Keep close track until you are in the habit of
recognizing how much you have every month.
- You are going to need to be diligent about keeping up with all this
after it is said and done and you feel as though you have reigned in
the wild spending of your spouse, or yourself. Educate yourself. Yes,
itís hard work and is sometimes a little boring. But then again 1) if it
were easy, you would already be doing it and would not be reading this
2) eventually, it will be a habit and over time it will really pay off.
- Be careful about the inevitable temptations. What about
when we get into having a few extra dollars coming our way? These sorts
of things happen from time to time and the best policy is to really
just grab onto every penny and not let go. Populate an emergency fund in
a high interest money market, or at least in a savings account with
your current bank. Then forget about it. Its hard to convey this but you
will absolutely be glad you did when the time comes. If you have
already done that, then jumpstart your 401(k)/403(b). If you are already
maxing that out, then drop it into an index fund. Anything is fine,
except parking it in your checking account and having access to it
through your debit card. The same applies with any windfall or raise. Be
disciplined and simply try it. You will be amazed at the results.
- Take advantage of what you are already making and be
diligent and you might find a few financial surprises right under your