Dear New Frugal You,
been reading your column and have decided to change my financial habits. Tired
of being in debt and never knowing where my paycheck goes. But I'm not sure if
I have what it takes to stay with it. Is there some advice or help that you can
give me to make this a real lifestyle change? -- Judi
Congratulations on your decision to improve your lifestyle. And, your wisdom to recognize that
it will take determination and a good plan to make it work. Let's see if we can give you some tools to help you achieve your frugal goals.
Let's break our suggestions into two broad categories:
- Things that require other people.
- Changes you can make by yourself.
are a number of benefits of doing some group frugal living activities. You'll
develop new friends who will encourage your journey. That's especially helpful
in a world where many measure themselves and others based on material
also find that groups tend to create their own excitement and momentum. That's
important to help keep you motivated.
of the easiest things to do is to join or form a coupon-swapping group. Any
place where you meet with the same people regularly will work -- your job, health
club, church, kids' play group, etc. Not only will you enjoy the group dynamic,
but you'll have more useful coupons and save more money.
but more beneficial, is to form a frugal living group. Find some like-minded people.
Agree to meet in person or online on a regular basis. Share your goals and how
you plan to achieve them. Then report back as you make progress (or fail to
sharing finances with a group is too public for you, choose someone you know
and trust to hold you accountable. Studies show that we're much more likely to
attain a goal if we tell someone else about it.
if any purchasing groups are available to you. The most common ones buy bulk
groceries -- everything from fresh produce to whole sides of beef. These groups
take a bit of coordination, but the savings can be significant, especially if
you're into organic or locally grown food.
you have kids, join a babysitting co-op. You'll significantly reduce the cost
of date night, and spending more time with your mate could help avoid an
expensive divorce lawyer bill later!
or form a neighborhood group to share rarely used items. How often do you need
an extension ladder? Or a carpet shampooer? Not enough to justify buying it.
The group could be as simple as a list of items that each neighbor has that
they'd be willing to lend out. Some groups ask that the borrower 'rent' the
item for a few dollars. Others do it just to be neighborly.
do some things that don't require others to join with you. Make them a part of
your bargains. Post them on Facebook. Celebrate your wins. Be proud of your new
on rewarding yourself along the way. We all like rewards. So decide on what
you'll give yourself when you stick to your plan for three months or when build
your emergency fund to a certain level. You might even want to put a picture of
the reward in plain sight as a reminder and motivator.
a specific plan of action. Don't just say that you want to save money. Decide
that you'll spend the first month working on reducing your grocery bill. You
might choose the second month for your household utility bills. Then do a
little research and determine specific actions you can take within each challenge.
a recovery plan. Most of us will miss the target occasionally. That's
discouraging. If you have a recovery plan, you won't be tempted to give up.
You'll get back on track again.
Be proud of yourself. Not only are you taking
control of your financial future, you're proving to yourself that you have the
ability to stay with a project for the long-term.
See related: Frugal living groups, Easy, inexpensive home heating tips
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