Live Frugally (But Enjoy Life Fully)
For example, if you realize you’re forking over a ton of cash for dry cleaning when your shirts really just need a good press, reduce your dry-cleaning budget and get acquainted with your ironing board—you could save $30 or more a month. If you go for coffee every morning because you don’t have time to brew your own, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier and save yourself at least $10 a week.
When James did this, he realized he was spending a ton of money at the grocery store, even though much of the food went bad before he could eat it. “When I realized where my money was going, I decided I would only go to the grocery store once a week and just spend a certain amount when I was there,” he says. “That ended up saving a huge amount of money—even when I added in taking my girlfriend out to dinner more often.”
Don’t Cut Every Corner
When people decide they’re going to live frugally, their knee-jerk reaction is to cancel their vacations, stock up on Ramen noodles and live like monks for as long as possible. While this approach may work in the short term, it’s kind of like crash dieting—it doesn’t last.
“I don’t recommend that people make drastic changes in their lifestyles,” says Mary Hunt, a nationally syndicated financial columnist and author of 17 bestselling books on smart spending. “You’ll quickly give up and go on a binge.” Hunt adds that the key is to find ways to do what is important to you for a whole lot less money.
Gina Smith, a journalist based in San Diego, CA, decided that living frugally didn’t mean she had to give up her love of entertaining—she simply needed to harness her inner creative goddess in order to shave hundreds of dollars off the cost of each party. “Instead of hosting traditional parties, I started having potlucks,” she says. “After everyone ate, we’d all play board games instead of going out somewhere. I had forgotten how much fun Cranium and card games can be!”