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How to Be Frugal Without Sacrificing Quality of Life

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It’s no secret that millennials (present company included) are all about living life to the fullest. For some reason, many older folks look down on millennials for many of the qualities that make us so great! Frugality isn’t just about living off the land and being a hermit. You can learn how to be frugal and enjoy life at the same time!

When you think of being frugal, what do you visualize? Do you envision yourself eating beans and rice, raising farm animals, and having no social life? If that’s the case, it’s time to change your mindset!

There are simple ways to be more frugal without becoming an extreme frugal living nut!

You should always try to make more money so that you have a higher income to work with, but sometimes your goals have nothing to do with making money and more to do with saving money or making a life-changing decision.

For example, you might be eager to quit your job and become a stay at home mom. You’ll have to learn how to be frugal if you’re going to be living on one income.

It’s also important to note that making more money is great, but if you don’t keep your spending in check, you’ll just end up increasing your cost of living and spending nearly everything you make.

But you don’t have to sell all of your belongings and become a hermit to achieve frugality femme status! You just need to assess your spending habits and tweak a few things!

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How to Be Frugal Without Giving Up Everything You Love

First off, I want to warn you to throw everything you think you know about how to be frugal out the window. If you see frugality as a negative thing (ie being cheap or not enjoying life), you will fail miserably.

The first step is to think about what truly makes you happy. What enriches your life and makes it better? Here are some examples:

  • Traveling with your spouse, kids, mom, or girlfriends.
  • Season tickets to your favorite sports team.
  • Bi-weekly manicures.
  • Living in a big house.
  • Driving a nice car.
  • Working in the yard (planting and pruning).
  • Going to concerts.
  • Being able to stay at home or work for yourself instead of the dreaded 9-5.

Related: February Income Report: How I Earned $5,365 Working From Home

Now think about your top three goals for this year.

My top three goals for 2019 are to:

  1. Pay off all of our consumer loan debt (except for our truck).
  2. Earn at least $50,000 of income working from home.
  3. Move my family closer to the water.

In order to achieve your goals, you have to either earn a higher income or learn how to be frugal and make smarter money choices.

 

How to Be Frugal Tip #1

Look at Your Budget

Make sure you are creating a budget every single month (ideally every single time you get paid or receive extra income). To do this, list your take-home pay and all expenses, subtracting until you (hopefully) end up with some money left over at the end of the pay period.

If I lost you there, check out my post on how to create a personal budget.   It explains in detail exactly how to get started budgeting.

After you’ve completed the budget, take a look at your expenses.  You can likely save money on services you’re already using. You just have to do a little work.

How to Be Frugal Tip #2

Shop Around for Better Prices

Insurance is one of the biggest areas of potential savings, yet so many people don’t take advantage of shopping for better rates. Call an insurance broker who deals with multiple companies and have him run quotes every 6 months, or, at a minimum, once a year.

Take advantage of bundling discounts by combining your auto and homeowners, and while you’re at it, have your agent run a quote for term life insurance. You should have at least 8-10 times your annual income in life insurance.

Stay at home moms with no income should have around $400,000 in term life insurance (depending on the cost of living in your area). I currently have a $400,000 policy through ING that costs only $188 per year. This provides peace of mind for my husband in case something tragic was to happen.

If you don’t own a home yet, please don’t forget to buy renters’ insurance. My brother’s house caught on fire while they were renting, and their insurance helped place them in a hotel while it was being repaired and also replaced some of their belongings that were destroyed from the smoke.

Frugality Tip #3

Switch Cell Phone Providers

It’s no secret that AT&T and Verizon have the best coverage in the Nation. But what if you don’t need all of the bells and whistles (and data) that the two giants provide? What if you just need a cell phone that gets coverage in your area or you’re looking to buy your teenager a phone?

You can save $100 or more per month by switching to a new cell phone provider. Here are some companies to help save money on cell phone service.

  • Simple Mobile is T-Mobile’s cheaper alternative to cell phone coverage.

 


 

  • Straight Talk is one of the most popular MVNO providers and has arguably some of the best coverage.

 

  • I wrote about how we switched from Verizon to Cricket years ago. Cricket runs on AT&T towers but there is a lag in service, so I only recommend Cricket if you don’t rely on your phone service for business.

 

Frugality Tip #4

Make a Plan to Pay Off Debt

I first heard about Dave Ramsey about 13 years ago while working at a bank. I dove deep into the journey to financial peace. But I struggled with paying off our debt. Why? Several things held us back. But this year will be the year that we pay (nearly) everything off!

Start by listing your debts in order from smallest balance to greatest balance. It also helps to write down next to each amount the minimum payment each month.

Now add up your total debt and total monthly minimum debt payments. It’s time to start aggressively paying these off. You can’t realize your full financial potential if you’re a slave to the lender.

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Now that you’ve listed all of your debts, make a plan to pay them all off, starting with the ones that will make the biggest impact. Here’s where my advice differs from Ramsey’s teachings.

Let’s say you have $5,000 in savings (above and beyond your emergency fund) and owe $3,500 on a credit card at 21% interest ($50 per month) and $4,000 on a 0% (no interest if paid by) loan with a payment of $200 per month.

Take that money and pay off the 0% loan. Forget about the interest for a minute and realize that by paying off that 0% loan, you’re freeing up an additional $200 per month as opposed to $50 per month you’d be freeing up if you were to pay off the high interest credit card.

There’s something amazing about raising the amount of money you have left every month after paying bills and minimums. By increasing your snowball amount, you’ll be able to aggressively pay off the debt.

How to Be Frugal Tip #5

Sell Your Car

Here’s a tip. Don’t try to impress people with vehicles. We used to love our cars more than we loved having money. How do I know this? Because at one point, we had a $713 a month payment on a brand new Honda Odyssey minivan. What the hell were we thinking?

I’m so glad you asked! We found ways to justify our expensive vehicles and/or trading in car after car. Here’s a list of some of our favorite excuses:

  1. We need a bigger vehicle since we’re having a third child because even though 3 kids fit in the back seat, we need a third-row seat!
  2. We should buy new because they come with a warranty. We would NEVER buy an extended warranty or a dealer warranty, so why not buy new and keep it forever? (Side note: forever doesn’t last long because you’ll get bored)
  3. The gas mileage in this thing is just terrible! We should downsize and get a smaller vehicle so we can save money on fuel.
  4. What if we sold both of our cars and bought one nicer car and one “beater”? Then our payments won’t go up, and we’ll be able to have something nice for a change…

The list goes on and on. There are plenty of reasons we can try to justify our decisions. But the one thing that most millionaires have in common is that they don’t have car payments, and they don’t drive fancy cars.

How to Be Frugal Tip #6

Start Doing Your Own Mani/Pedi’s

You can save up to $2,000 per year by doing your own nails at home. I’ve tried just about every nail polish there is, and I can’t a polish that looks as smooth and beautiful as Essie polish.

 


Warren Buffet Frugal Living Practices

According to a post on BusinessInsider, the billionaire has lived frugally his entire life. Here are a few ways Warren Buffet has practiced frugality, leading to his billionaire status and beyond.

  1. He owns the same house he bought in 1958 for $31,500!
  2. He eats off the dollar menu at McDonald’s.
  3. He drives cars into the dirt…or until his daughter tells him ‘it’s getting embarrassing’.
  4. He has affordable hobbies, such as strumming the ukelele and playing cards.
  5. His gifts are thoughtful…not extravagant.

It’s not too difficult learning how to be frugal. It’s simply a matter of recognizing and changing a few of your core habits. You don’t have to become a bum to be frugal. You just need to start being more consciously aware of your spending. That’s it!

 

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Comments

  1. Nice tips! The cell phone one can really pay off!
    I like that you start the article by framing that the goal isn’t always to make more money.

    1. Thanks, Mrs. Sweetspot! Of course we’d all like to make more money, but sometimes it’s easier to just cut expenses. 🙂

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