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Our Frugal Living Experts

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

Melissa Tosetti

Editor and publisher of Budget Savvy magazine

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Live Frugally (But Enjoy Life Fully)

Your closet is filled with unworn clothes, your car is new, you have no savings and your credit card is maxed. From the outside it may appear as though you’re rolling in cash, but deep down you know you barely have enough to pay your bills.

If this is your story, you’re not alone. A recent survey by the American Bankers Association showed that the average American’s spending has so outpaced his or her earnings, people are falling behind on their loans at the fastest rate in 15 years. And savings accounts? They’re going the way of the steam locomotive; the American savings rate has shrunk to less than 0%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Whether you are dealing with an unexpected crisis or a spending problem, you could probably benefit from living frugally. Before you worry that you’re going to be living the cheap life, here’s the good news—you can live frugally without skimping on your happiness. In 30 days, you can take back the reigns to your economic future…and still get compliments on your style.

Frugal Versus Cheap

To some people, the word “frugal” is code for “cheap.” But in truth, frugality is allocating your money where you really want it to go; being cheap means you will spend the least amount possible for anything regardless of quality.

“Most people spend money without thinking about it, and much of what they spend it on doesn’t make them happier or feel better,” says Gary Foreman, editor and publisher of "The Dollar Stretcher." “You can reduce this spending and not feel any less fulfilled.”

When James Spradmeyer, an Orlando, FL consultant, began to change his spending habits, he was afraid people were going to call him a cheapskate. He soon changed his tune. “Every time I cut back in one area, it allowed me to spend more in another area,” he says. “Living frugally didn’t mean I couldn’t have a social life; it actually meant that I could do more of the things I liked to do without panicking about how much money I was spending.”

If you’re going to change your spending habits, you’ve first got to change your mindset. Quit equating frugality with cheapness—when executed properly, it’s exactly the opposite.

The Path to Frugality

If you want to live frugally, start by figuring out how you’re currently spending your dough. Take a one-week inventory of where your money is going, making sure to tally each vending-machine soda and every last MP3 download. Add that figure to 25% of your fixed monthly bills, and you’ll have a good sample of what you’re spending—and where—any given week.

Then divide your expenses into two categories—things that are truly important to you and things that aren’t. Where things aren’t important, it’s your job in the first 30 days and beyond to find ways to cut back or eliminate your spending for things that don’t matter.

Posted: 5/16/08

getting coffee at speedway $1.05 vs Starbucks $4.00 and every 5th coffee is free.

  • By mandym
  • on 12/28/09 11:22 PM EST

This article changed my whole thought process on the way i viewed being frugal


great advice


IF you are truly worried about your financial position, start by doing this first.

1: VERY VERY VERY FIRST thing to do. Go throught any piece of paper you have in your house and file all similar pieces together.

2: Sort every piece in EACH pile according to dates

3: Get a Binder and keypole bunch each page and place in Binders.

4: Now that you have everything in order, The pile doesn't look all that dangerous and you are NOW ready to really really thing about what you need, what you most manageable bills are, and Where you owe the most money.

5: Now start paying off the smaller amounts FIRST. The larger ones are too big to tackle first.

6: As those little ones vanish then you can use the money toward you bigger ones and then increase your money to pay off the bigger ones.

Only then are you really in a position to take a breath and know that when you HIT THE BOTTOM, there is only one place. That is UP AND OUT OF THE HOLE we have all dig.


What worked for me was to rate from 1-10 how much satisfaction did spending money on certain things gave me- Anything rating below a 7 I decided to stop spending on that. I also looked at the opportunity cost of doing it myself - for example- if it meant taking precious time away from my daughter and husband- i decided that I would not iron my shirts and would instead by shirts that did not need ironing...it helps to make decisions and not be in automatic


I recently quit the job from hell and while I can now sleep at night, my bills outweigh my income. Learning to live on just my husbands salary til I find a better job has been tough but we've been doing it and using the mindset of frugal, not cheap has definitely helped. I am spending way less on stupid things and by being careful, we are doing okay!


This is a great article...equating frugality with freedom is a powerful thought for me. I want to be able to handle any unexpected expense that might come up without having to ask someone else for help.

  • By kbetta
  • on 7/3/08 3:57 PM EST