Recently, my cousin’s daughter wanted my views on the personal finance essay she had written for a school project. When I was reading that, I realized there so many simple ideas one can share about keeping our personal finances in order. More and more, with access to credit, we seem to have forgotten the concept of living within our means or frugal living.
11 Effortless Ways to Frugal Living
Frugal living does not mean depriving yourself from your needs or living miserably. Frugal living actually means living simply and buying you freedom in the future. That is because you live within or below your means and you save enough so that you never run out of cash. People complain and claim they can’t do it. But living frugally is not hard at all. There are many effortless ways to frugal living.
Determine your needs and wants
You should know the difference between the things you need and the things you want. Prioritize your basic needs like food, shelter, and clothing. You need vegetables for your health, but you want ice cream to satisfy your sugar cravings. Get it?
You should know the difference between the things you need and the things you want
Make a plan and stick to it
The best time to plan your finances is at the start of the year. But it’s also alright to begin now. Make a plan and be firm to stick to it. Plan how much money you need to allocate for your basic needs like house bills and food. Plan your trips for the year. Plan how many movies you can watch in the theatre and how many you can wait to be available in the stores. As the cliché goes, “Nobody plans to fail, but many fail to plan.” Don’t be one of them. Have the proper mind-set and convince yourself that you are doing this for your own good.
Pack your lunch
Eating out often leads you to spending more than you intend. Not only that, the usual go-to food during eat out are less healthy than the ones you prepare yourself. Don’t eat out. Prepare your own lunch. Plan and prepare make-ahead meals. Check out food blogs that teach you how to prepare healthy meals which are also budget-friendly.
Follow a simple formula
Lay preacher and bestselling author Bo Sanchez shared his simple abundance formula. Just remember these 4 numbers: 100, 10, 20, and 70. Earn 100% by giving your 100% of time, talent and treasure. Tithe or give back 10% of your money to church or to your favourite charity. Invest 20% of your income, and spend only 70% of your money. It’s simple and easy to follow because living within the 70% of your budget is not that bad.
Stop impulsive buying
If you see something cute in the store that is not part of your plan or budget, take a deep breath and walk away. It helps to ask yourself these questions, “How will this help me be better?” and “How much do I really need this in my life?”
If you can’t answer these simple questions, it’s best not to buy it. If you can’t buy it in one go (you need to lay away or pay through credit card), you can’t afford it.
Walking has benefits for the health as it is a simple yet beneficial exercise. But it can also be beneficial to your pocket. If you need to run some errands and the distance is not that far and you’re not carrying anything heavy, just walk. It can even boost your mood.
Quit your vices
How many packs of cigarettes can you finish in one day? How much is that? Multiply that number and to 365 (days in one year) and that’s how much money you’re burning. For example, if one pack costs approximately $6.50. If you can finish one pack then you consume $2,372.50 a year! But what if you can consume 2 packs? And what if it costs more than that? You are spending way more than you should.
Although going on a cruise could be fun, it can hurt your budget in the long run. Find some simple joys in life that does not require you to spend big cash. Have a picnic at the local park. Watch the sunset by the bay. Invite your friends for a potluck party in your house. Walk your dog. Visit a museum (most of them either offer free entrance or really cheap tickets).
Ditch your credit cards
It is tempting to buy things you don’t need when you have the capacity for it. Credit cards make spending look easy and preys on your instant gratification. Again, stop impulse buying. If your credit card enables you to do this, ditch it. They’re also deceiving as you think it’s harmless if you don’t use it often (or at all) but you’re still paying the interest which balloons in no time.
You don’t need a Netflix subscription. You don’t need to receive that magazine regularly. If you’re seldom home or you’re always on your laptop anyway, do you really need a cable subscription? Cancel all subscriptions that you don’t seriously need.
Use sustainable power
It may seem expensive because you’re going to pay upfront, but using sustainable power can help you save money in the long run. Using solar hot water instead of electricity and sourcing your energy from the sun will not only cut your power bills, it also helps protect the planet.
Some people complain that their salaries are not enough to sustain their lifestyle. But really, they just need to strategize better. They need to design a lifestyle they can afford. Living a frugal life could be challenging at the beginning, but it pays off in the end. All you need is the proper mind-set, determination, patience, and sense of contentment. There are effortless ways to frugal living and all of them lead to freedom. Do you want to be free?
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