As the economy is slowly improving, many people are looking at ways to adjust their finances so they can not only pay their bills, but also retire at some point in their future. One topic that I cover here and on Couple Money is frugality. It’s a part of our strategy to pay off our debts and to minimize lifestyle inflation.
If you’re on the fence on whether frugal living is a good fit for you, I want to share some advantages:
- It’s sustainable and flexible. With some tweaks and adjustments to your living, you can alleviate some of your recurring expenses. You can crank it up and minimize your expenses to the bare essentials or you can turn teh knob just a bit and optimize one part of your budget.
- It can change your mindset. I didn’t believe it at first, but frugality can be a powerful force in your finances. You can start to see that many times, it’s not your income that’s holding you back and keeping you in debt, it’s actually your lifestyle. Many times we get caught up with what we think is convenient and cheap, but is really not. You don;t have to eliminate eating out, but you can acquire cooking skills that will not only save you money, but can add some joy to your day. (Plus you can save on gas as friends flock to you and your place.)
- Frugality can help others. Not all, but many frugal people discover they have more resources than they need and decide to help others. Some have cut back their hours at work and volunteered at charities that matter to them. Others can contribute more money to their favorite causes.
- Less stress and competitive. Living a frugal lifestyle can cut down on the ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ mentality which can be stressful.
Of course there are plenty of other benefits, but I wanted to highlight a few of my favorites. If you’re interested in learning more and picking up some practical tips, there are some great money savings tips here on My Financial Reviews.
- Cheap Smartphone Plans at Republic Wireless – You may be able to cut your bill from $80/month to $20/month by using a cell phone provider like Republic Wireless. You get an unlimited smartphone plan at a fraction of the price without a contract.
- Zenni Optical Review – Best Deal for Eyeglasses? – I was able to save $100 on my glasses AND get several more features by using Zenni.
- Automating Bill Payments and Checking Our Bills – Automating our finances is a double win, as we don’t worry about late fees and we’ve freed up time for us.
- 11 Ways To Avoid Overspending At The Grocery Store – Since we all need to eat, this post can be used to help you reduce this very necessary bill.
These tips are great for many as you don’t have to give up on what you need and like, you just have to find better deals. Of course there are some other resources you may want to check out like books and other personal finance sites.
I’m a big fan of using your local library – it’s pretty much a free resource for books, internet access, and entertainment options (some libraries rent out movies and CDs). I’ve listed a few books that I personally used to get started with incorporating frugality into our day to day routine.
- The Complete Tightwad Gazette-This book has the complete series of newsletters Amy Dacyczyn published. It packs a ton of information and if you use even 1/10 of her tips, you’ll be able add some significant wiggle room in your budget.
- Your Money or Your Life – One of the first personal finance books that I read that showed the possibilities of a frugal lifestyle. It’s less about saving money just to save money, but really examines the why in finances. There are lots of exercises you can do to get you away from living paycheck to paycheck into financial freedom.
- The Millionaire Next Door – For myself, this book really showed me that just because you look rich, doesn’t mean you are. It examines how millionaires really live, they didn’t inherit their money, they just used it wisely. It highlights that looks can be deceiving.
Blogs and Online Sites
Of course as a personal finance blogger, I have to include some sites I think you should check out online. My list has been updated as some frugal bloggers have moved on.
- Mr Money Mustache – MMM has quickly become one of the most popular sites around the personal finance sphere for his hardcore frugal living tips. Some may assume that he and his family live on deprivation, but they don’t. He shows how one can live well on a modest income, providing they aren’t chasing the Jonses.
- Man Vs Debt– When Baker started his site in 2009, he and his family were determine to wipe away their debts, simplify their lives, and move overseas. While Adam has recently turned the reins over to his colleague Joan, the mission of the blog is the same – to help others not only debt of their debts, but to remove clutter from their lives and do what they love.
- Financial Samurai – I will start off by saying while Sam’s site isn’t a traditional frugality blog, his aggressive saving and investing strategy makes his blog a must read in my opinion. Sam has many thoughts on real estate, car purchases, and investing which he backs up with data. Agree with him or not, Financial Samurai will get you thinking about your finances and how you run them.
- Debt Free Adventure– DFA has hundreds of posts filled with practical advice on getting your life in balance while learning to do things for yourself. Matt has done a fantastic job demonstrating frugality as a tool for change.
- Surviving and Thriving: Donna Freedman, the voice behind MSN’s Frugal Cool, has been writing about frugal living for years. She’s not only showing readers how to save money, she’s also showing how much fun you can have doing it.
Thoughts on Frugal Living
I’d love to hear from you. When did you decide to try out frugality? Where do you fall on the frugal spectrum? What sites and books have you used to become more frugal?