Let’s get frugal. With no end in sight to this downturn in our economy, it would behoove all of us to be careful with our money. At first, this was a painful thought for me as I love to shop but as with any formation of new habits, after a few weeks of following the guidelines it has become easier (if not second nature). So what are some of the rules I’ve been following:
- 1. Pack your lunch! This was one of my daily expenditures. To eliminate needlessly wasting money on food that wasn’t even good for me, I started buying Lean Cuisine entrees (6-10 at a time) and stashing them in the freezer at work. At $2 an entrée, it’s a heck of a lot better than the $5 to $6 I was spending daily on lunch.
- 2. No more Starbucks. I had gotten into the habit of stopping by Starbucks on my way to class. My rationalization for this was that I deserved a treat; I was working hard so it was ok. Once I eliminated these trips, I ended up saving $15 a week or more. It was very tough in the beginning, but like I said stick with it and the new habits will replace the old ones.
- 3. Go easy on the shopping! My work situation allowed me to go shopping on the lunch hour. With the nearest mall only five minutes away, I went shopping a minimum of two times a week. Once I changed jobs and did not have the same access to shopping, I noticed what a bad habit it had become. The change was brought about by things outside of my control but I have continued the change on my own, limiting my shopping considerably. Learning to get creative with what you already own will expand your wearable, workable wardrobe.
- 4. Plan ahead. Number one (packing lunch) falls under this. By planning ahead, I was able to eliminate certain expenses. For example, every time I was running late for work (which happens a lot) the first thing to go from my morning is breakfast but I’m still hungry. What do I do? Stop by a drive-thru and needlessly spend $6 easily. So now I own a coffee maker that has a timer and I set it so that it’s waiting for me when I’m dressed and ready to go. In addition, I always keep some microwaveable oatmeal around so that’s a quick two minute breakfast. Other opportunities to plan ahead and save money could include:
- a. Putting together outfits for events well before the event, eliminates the need to go last minute shopping and buying items you would never buy under normal circumstances.
- b. When going shopping, pinpoint in your mind what you want. Stick to that so that you’re not lured by attractive merchandising.
- c. The holidays are coming up. Start making lists of who you need presents for, what the budget is and start comparison shopping. Keep that list handy when you go shopping because once again, you don’t want to be lured into the retail trap.
To make your own guidelines, evaluate your spending habits and see where you spend the majority of your money. After identifying, what can you change that would mean spending less money? Any change no matter how small is a change nonetheless. That’s more money in your pocket than you had before. Good luck!