If you’ve been thinking of taking a trek into Frugal Town but don’t know where to start, then here are five simple and fun tips that will make a big positive difference for your finances and, in the bigger picture, in your entire life:
- Pack a lunch.
Restaurants love the lunch crowd, because it’s usually flocked full of people who are so relieved to get a break from work (even if they constantly check their smartphone for emails and texts!), that they pay little or no attention to the fact that they’re spending $15 on something that might be worth about $3, and doesn’t even taste that great and/or isn’t healthy.
Now, before I raise the ire of restaurateurs out there: don’t worry, your business will be fine. Frugal folks comprise a very small percentage of the public. You won’t notice their absence, but they certainly will notice the hundreds of dollars they save each month. It really adds up.
- Cut the cord.
Hi. The 1980s called (on a rotary payphone) and wants their $60+/month cable bill back. With online streaming services, you can watch pretty much anything you want, when you want. Plus, you’ll find plenty of Blue Rays and DVDs at your local library, including new release movies and all kinds of TV series.
- Adjust your thermostat.
Nudging your thermostat a mere two degrees lower in the winter and higher in the summer can translate into hundreds of dollars in savings each year. Plus, you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint. More green for the planet, and more green in your wallet. What’s not to love?
- Ad match.
Download a digital flyer app (there are a bunch of them in the App Store and Google Play) and shop at stores that ad match. Just keep your giggling to a minimum when you buy the exact same thing as the person next to you, but pay much less (or you can show compassion and tell them about ad matching). Just keep in mind that some retail stores like Walmart will match competitors’ ads, but they won’t match their own online prices. Strange but true!
- Wrap your car.
The first four tips focused on saving money. This one is about making money. Businesses and marketing agencies will pay you to do nothing more than drive around — which is what you do anyway. What’s the catch? Well, it’s not really a catch, but more of a deal: in exchange for their money, you agree to wrap your car (in whole or part) to promote a brand, like a pet hospital or home cleaning service. To learn more, simply head to Google and search for “car wrap in [your city]”. So for example, if you live in St. Louis, you’d search for car wrap in St Louis, if you live in Dallas, then you’d search for car wrap in Dallas, and so on.
Being frugal is not about one deprivation after another. On the contrary, frugal living is about being in control of your money vs. being at the mercy of it; or more specifically, being at the mercy of employers and banks. That’s why “folks who go frugal” don’t look back, and their only regret is that they didn’t start sooner. It’s not just about having more money (and in some cases, a lot more money!). It’s about being empowered, and driving the financial bus vs. sitting in the back and praying that it reaches its destination in one piece. That’s a pretty scary way to live — and a usually a very costly one, too.