Becoming a frugal person can be a tough lifestyle adjustment at times. There are a lot of small habits many people do that more financially conscious people just don’t. And there are plenty more that people new to the life of frugality may not think to do. Here are several habits that anyone working to living a more financially savvy life should work to adopt, and also a few to drop.
There are many reasons to embrace being more economical, but more often than not, people decide to make a financial lifestyle change because they have accumulated debt or are living paycheck to paycheck and would like to take better control of their situation.
“Truly frugal people must have long-term goals.”
Having a vague goal may help in getting started, but it provides little direction for your choices. The Simple Dollar explained that truly frugal people must have long-term goals. They work hard to ensure they will have sufficient funds for major purchases and experiences later on in life, whether that be a house or an early retirement.
Wise Bread added that meticulous budgeters know the importance of being extremely in tune to their finances. They know exactly how much money is coming in during any given month, and how much is going out. This is the best way to be truly proactive with your money.
Grocery shopping is a necessary activity every family does typically once a week. The average American spent $3,971 on food at home in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The amount spent on groceries steadily crept up from $3,921 in 2012. However, frugal people do their best to cut their grocery bill every week.
They do this through many different strategies. Go Banking Rates contributor Donna Freedman explained that people who budget more meticulously look at the manager’s specials at the grocery store. These are generally foods that are near their expiration date, or are imperfectly packaged. You might be able to find some good meat, nearly dated dairy or foods in dented boxes.
Living on Fifty blogger Gretchen Lindow wrote checking the loss leader, or weekly shopper, to find out what will be on sale at the store that week is always a good tip, too.
It’s also important to keep track of the items you already have at home. Did you recently buy a bag of spinach? Beware that this can go bad quickly, so be sure to incorporate it into as many meals as possible. If you made a large batch of something, make an effort to finish the leftovers before they go bad. This might mean bringing it to work for lunch or having that lasagna for dinner a few days in a row.
Buying Used Won’t Kill You
This goes for everything from clothing to household supplies to scrap paper. If you need a new pair of work pants, or a dress for a special occasion, head to your local thrift shop before going to the mall. The clothes there are often in great shape and can save you a lot of money. Some will even have clothes that still have their original tags on.
Household goods can also be found here. But Freedman explained you may even be able to pick some of these things up for free elsewhere. Take a stroll around the block on trash day and you may find some great additions to your home, like lamps, mirrors or small tables. People often throw away things they don’t know how to donate, or have the energy or time to sell. Just be sure to check it over to make sure it’s free of bugs or mold.
Free things can be found in other ways, too. Enter every contest you see. Even if you don’t want the prize, it can often make a great gift or be sold to someone who does want it. Another place to find a nice gift for free is the giveaway shelf at your local library.
Paper is another area where money can be saved. Why buy it when it’s just going to be used as scrap paper and thrown away? Instead, check the recycling box for paper that’s only printed on one side. Stock your scrap paper pile at home with this. Just be sure it’s OK to take it.
These habits may take time to adopt and will probably take some careful strategizing. Your non-frugal friends may say it’s weird or too time-consuming. But you’ll come out ahead in the end by picking up some financially savvy habits.