The word frugal is more than just a nice way of saying cheap. Think of it as a way of saying that you are wise with your purchase decisions. Just because you’re trying to stay within an ever-shrinking budget each month, doesn't mean you have to go without some of life’s little pleasures. In fact, an argument can be made that you can enjoy a frugal lifestyle without anyone even noticing. It's not so much about cutting stuff out, but being economical and finding creative ways to afford what you want.
Instead of joining a gym, consider purchasing some used gym equipment for at-home use. Check community online services such as Craigslist or perhaps the bulletin board at your local gym for ads. Get a workout by jogging with a friend or advertise for a jogging or workout partner. Many public parks have tennis courts and riding, biking and walking trails just waiting to be used. Some public parks have designated workout areas with exercise instructions. In the summer, many cities have public pools and in the winter, many have skate parks. Even some employers offer access to the fitness facilities during non-working hours for employees.
Start by going to discount stores like Walmart or bag-it-yourself grocery stores. You can generally find the same items and brands you always buy, but for less. If you want to shave a little more off your monthly food budget, consider buying generic or store brands. In most cases, the only real difference is the package. Some stores offer a discount if you bring your own bags; cloth or plastic. It’s a great way to save the earth as well as a little cash. When making purchases online, look for "free shipping" specials and double check your final total before you pay. Sites like Free-shipping-codes.com provide codes you can use for many popular online shopping sites.
Entertainment & Dining
We all need a break from reality now and then, and a good movie usually does the trick. Consider discontinuing your premium movie channels and instead rent or stream movies. You’ll get the current releases you really want and your monthly expenditure will probably be less. Slow down your Internet speed. Download during off-peak hours and eliminate unnecessary tasks on your computer or laptop and you'll hardly notice the difference. Despite what your kids say, they will live if they have to wait a few extra seconds for a website or a song to download. When you order food or eat out, look for deals online first. Some restaurants have special discount nights for families. Finally, eat more meals at home. Home cooking is always more economical and often means leftovers that can be enjoyed more than once.
Since frugal literally means "economical," let's look at how you can save a little money by making some adjustments to the companies and services your trust with your finances. Start by checking your bank accounts. Look at your monthly statement to make you aren't be charged "hidden fees" for using the ATM or dealing with a real person. The same goes for debit and credit cards. Ditch cards that have outrageous finance charges, unless you can pay them off every month. Look at your insurance coverage. Consider consolidating policies that overlap. Some insurance companies offer discounts if you have multiple policies with the same insurer.
Being frugal just means you’re trying to save a little money, and in this economy, that’s definitely a good thing. Many adjustments are minor and you aren't really sacrificing all that much. You just might have a little leftover in your budget at the end of the month for special treats such as weekend getaways or a night out on the town. How's being frugal sounding to you now?