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Frugal Living - What's the Secret?

By - 2006

When most people think of being frugal, they think it means being miserable, or giving up what they want. This is all wrong. Frugality is simply the practice of choosing less expensive alternatives. When you buy things for less, what do you get? You get more money left over to buy more of what you want! Frugal living doesn't have to mean being a scrooge or living without comfort.

Still, perhaps you don't like the idea of clipping coupons and buying clothes at rummage sales. That's okay. It never was the important part of truly frugal living. For maximum benefit, frugality has to start with the big things, and if it never gets down to the small items, you'll still be further ahead financially than most people.

Frugal Living - Some Examples

1. Look through Sunday's paper for coupons and clip them out. Make a list of things on sale that you can stock up on in order to get your average cost down. Plan and run a route of four stores in order to get everything where it is the cheapest. Total extra time spent: three hours.

2. Use a pen and paper and determine what things you need in a new house to be happy. Now list the cheapest homes that meet your criteria. Make several phone calls and check out several bank websites to get the interest rate down to 6.25% from the 6.75% you were expecting to pay. Total extra time spent: three hours.

In example one, we'll assume you save $30 on your groceries for your effort. Your frugality was worth about $10 per hour. In the second example, we'll suppose you found a suitable home for $20,000 less. Perhaps you only have to borrow $120,000 at 6.25% instead of $140,000 at 6.75%. Your payment would be $169 less per month, for a total savings of $60,900 over the thirty years of the mortgage. In this case, your frugality made you about $20,000 per hour.

You can see that it is the big stuff that makes the difference in frugal living. On the other hand, sometimes the small stuff is the big stuff, especially when it is repeated over and over. This is why it makes sense to save money on groceries. They are something you buy every week. How you do it is what's important though.

Suppose you don't want to clip coupons or spend time looking at sales flyers. Let's face it; if it only saves you $10 per hour of effort, you might be better off staying a few hours extra at work and skip the hassle. On the other hand, you could invest just an hour or two to figure out which store is cheapest for the things you buy. Shop there, and buy more of the things you use and like when they are on sale. You might still save $20 per week, with no additional investment of time. That's a $1,000 per year!

Maybe you have read newsletters and magazines about saving money. The more extreme ones have tips on things like how to reuse plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Is it worth it to wash and dry your zipper-close plastic bags? Perhaps, if you like that sort of thing, and you make minimum wage at your job. For most of us, however, it's better to spend the time analyzing big and the recurring expenditures. This is the secret to frugality.

Related Page:
Gas Savings - 18 Ways to Spend Less on Gasoline



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