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Bankruptcy: The Power of the Clean Slate

It doesn’t take many clicks online to find writing and advice on how to shape up your finances, even First30Days has a great financial advice section found here. There are...

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Joanne Heim

Joanne Heim

Author of Living Simply: Choosing Less in a World of More

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Gary Foreman

Gary Foreman

Editor and publisher of The Dollar Stretcher Newsletter

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Melissa Tosetti

Editor and publisher of Budget Savvy magazine

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Top 5 Things to Do

Living frugally doesn’t just happen; it takes concerted effort and a fantastic game plan. As you embark on the first 30 days of frugal living, here are the top five things you should keep in mind:

1. Track your cash.

The first step to getting your finances under control is familiarizing yourself with your spending habits. Start keeping track of your purchases—even the really small ones—and solve the mystery of where your funds are going once and for all.

2. Prioritize your expenses.

Once you’ve tracked your expenses, it’s time to create a budget. Don’t make the mistake of simply slashing the most expensive items from your list; look over your purchases carefully and decide what’s important to you and what isn’t. Use this mindset to develop a budget that’s catered to your personal happiness and calculated to keep you within your means.

3. Start saving now.

The only certainty in life is that nothing is certain, so you’d better start preparing for your air conditioner to break or your car engine to smoke! Your decision to live frugally probably stemmed in part from your desire to insulate yourself from circumstances beyond your control—saving is one of the best ways you can get started on a more secure path.

4. Don’t Get Discouraged.

Living a more frugal lifestyle requires changing your mindset about spending, and that doesn’t always come easily. If you go over your budget on a given week or “accidentally” buy that designer luggage you’ve been eyeing, don’t beat yourself up about it. Dust yourself off and get back on track, because with each smart purchase and each wise prioritization, the process of leading a more frugal lifestyle will get easier.  

5. Have fun!

Living frugally doesn’t mean forgoing a good time. Stretch your creative muscles and find new ways of hanging out with friends or spending time with loved ones that don’t involve shelling out boatloads of money. Host a potluck dinner, hit up your neighborhood tennis courts or camp out with your kids in the backyard. Your journey toward a more frugal lifestyle can actually be an enjoyable one.

Posted: 5/16/08