Lately, the frugal living movement has gotten a lot of attention. There are reality television shows depicting the great lengths people will go to just to save a few dollars, from clipping hundreds of coupons to digging through the garbage to salvage still edible food. Of course, those are the most extreme examples of frugality, and not practices that most people would be interested in pursuing. A closer look at the frugal living movement shows that it’s quite reasonable. Living frugally--within or below your means--can help you reach financial goals and figure out what you want to get out of life.
Assessing Your Circumstances
Before you make the leap to a frugal lifestyle, you should have an idea about where you stand financially. You might decide to practice frugal living and cut your expenses in order to pay off your debts. Or, you might be thinking about getting your spending in check so you can focus on saving for your future. Whatever your reasons, making a budget will be your first step.
Make Use of What You Have
One of the main tenets of living frugally is making use of what you have. Going out to purchase the latest model of something, whether it’s a gadget or the newest collection from your favorite designer, can lead you deeper into debt. Instead of constantly upgrading your lifestyle, frugality encourages you to use the things you own for as long as possible. If you can, you should extend their lives beyond even that. For instance, wear that dress you wore at a friend’s wedding to another party. When the dress no longer fits, you can cut it up and sew it into something else, or pass it on to a friend.
Embrace the Free
A frugal life doesn’t have to be a boring life. In fact, frugal people tend to find a lot of things to do for free. Once you know where to look, you can find that there are a lot of fun activities that don’t cost a penny. During the summer, local parks sometimes screen outdoor movies for free admission. Local libraries often have a wealth of free programming. Not to mention, libraries are a good resources for free books, DVDs and CDs. Some libraries also offer a number of digital options, from ebooks to mp3s, to cardholders for free.
Downshift and Downsize
Another essential component of the frugal life is downshifting or downsizing as needed. Downsizing isn’t just for empty-nesters. You might be in a huge house with a high rent or monthly mortgage payment. Moving to a smaller home that still fits your needs can save you money each month and help you work towards your financial goals. Downshifting is similar to downsizing but somewhat less dramatic. Downshifting means making small steps to reduce your cost of living or improve your quality of life. If you downshift, you might sell some of the possessions you own but don’t need, such as multiple TVs or a second car.
Writing down your goals for switching to a more frugal lifestyle can help you stick with it. Your goal might be to pay off all of your debts by reducing expenses and adopting a more simple lifestyle. You might want to increase your savings without having to work longer or harder. No matter what your goal is, simply having a goal makes the shift to frugality easier.
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