There is more than meets the eye with these five simple rules. Think about how you can apply them in your life.
1) Be prepared.
This rule might sound common sense and a little cliché, but some upfront preparation can save you tons of money in the long run. Keep snacks, hand wipes, or a change of clothes in the car for unexpected problems when you are out, so you won’t be forced to pick something up at convenience store prices. Preparing before any major purchase can save you money by finding the best prices and ensuring you make the best product purchase for your needs the first time. This will eliminate the need to purchase separate accessory products, or, worse yet, the need to repurchase a different product/brand because you found a great “deal” on a product that lasted less than a week.
2) Don’t pay someone for something you can do yourself.
When reading this rule, most people think of paying someone to cut your grass, do your nails, or clean your house. You’re probably thinking, “I don’t spend money on those things – I already live frugally.” But this rule encompasses so much more.
In today’s technology age, there are free ways to learn things you probably never dreamed possible. Sites like eHow have thousands of articles written to teach amateurs about a variety of tasks – everything from tiling a floor to changing the oil in your car. Another great resource is the iTunes U at the iTunes store. You can download iTunes for free, and the vast majority of the videos available in their iTunes U section are free as well. In just a few hours spent sifting through these great resources, you can learn to file your taxes, edit a file in Photoshop, and start a small business. For any topics you might not find here, you can always head over to YouTube. Any business or individual with knowledge to share is uploading information to YouTube’s databanks by the hour.
The idea behind this rule is to take your existing talents, or expand your horizons to include new ones, and come up with creative ways to do more yourself. Instead of buying presents, make them. Instead of sending flowers to friends that are sick, offer to make a home-cooked meal. Perform your own routine car maintenance (which also falls in line with being prepared – this will eliminate costly unnecessary repairs later on). With a little thought and some research, you can discover plenty of ways to eliminate expenses.
3) Track your financial expenditures.
You probably balance your checkbook and you make keep some mental track of your expenditures, but putting the pen to paper may surprise you. By categorizing your expenses you will not only be able to stay on budget easier, but you will also have a clearer picture of where you can cut back. Doing a web search using keywords like “free budget worksheets” will return hundreds of results to help you get started.
4) Embrace the unconventional.
The best frugalers have learned that the best discount sources are often hiding in unconventional places. Yard sales are food, but church sales and community benefits are better because they’re usually working with donated items. Creating a Facebook group can help you network with family and friends for lower cost babysitting or home maintenance services. There are also online sites designed for people who want to exchange babysitting, housesitting, and the like, but most are local, so search for what is available in your area.
5) Keep your personal accountability.
If 100 people were asked if they had goals, 95 would probably say yes. The problem is most of those goals are locked up tight in their minds, safe from harm and embarrassment if the goal is never reached. Most goals are doomed to failure from the start due to a lack of personal accountability. Set yourself a goal, then tell someone. Tell two people. Tell your spouse, your family, your neighbors, and your 463 Facebook friends. The more people you tell, the more personal accountability that is built into your goal. Humans will naturally work harder towards a goal once it is vocalized, not so much for the goal itself, but to avoid losing face in front of others from not keeping our word.
Once you have a goal and have spread the good news, keep your daily personal accountability going by leaving yourself notes. Visual reminders will keep your enthusiasm engaged and your mind focused. One final note about goals – keep them positive. Say “I will eat at home every meal this week” rather than “I will not eat out at all this week”. The brain has a tendency to overlook negative words, so “I will not eat out” becomes “I will eat out”, and your focus becomes off target.
Living these five rules will make frugal living a natural part of your life instead of a daily inconvenience. With some practice, you can enjoy coming up with new and creative ways to carry them out in your daily lives.