I found these tips in a file I created for a friend who asked for help in becoming more frugal. I discovered I have a bunch of tips in other files. So. . .perhaps a series on thriftyness is coming up!
When you decide to live a more frugal lifestyle, consider the following:
Set priorities—what’s important to you?
Soft tissue paper
If it is really important to you, don’t skimp there. There are plenty of other areas that can be worked on so you don’t feel like you’re depriving yourself.
Baby-steps—don’t try to drastically change everything all at once. You’re likely to burn out and not think it is worth the effort. Work on one thing at a time till it becomes second nature. You’ll be ready to move on to the next priority. (FlyLady.net has a lot of good advice about this—and everything else!)
Painless ways to cut back
*For the basics, shop at Wal-Mart, Aldi’s, or Crest. However, pay attention to the sales at Albertson’s, Safeway, and Smith’s. Often, their sale prices beat the “everyday low prices” of the other stores.
*Plan meals around items on sale, found in the ads
*Try out the store brands—often, these contain the same product as the brand names, just different packaging and a lower price. However, sometimes, cheaper ingredients are used and the product is indeed inferior. Great Value products seem to be consistently good from my experience.
*Price journal—keep track of the price you pay so you will have a reference in the future so you know if you are getting a good deal
*Look higher and lower than eye level on the shelves. Usually you’ll find better prices
*Shop with cash, when it is gone, it’s gone—can’t fudge
*Make a shopping list before you go to the store(s) and stick to it
*Make your list throughout the week
*Go to the store only once per week, or less!
*Do not be embarrassed to return defective or incorrectly priced items (Wal-Mart has a 200% money back guarantee for customer satisfaction in the meat department.)
*Less steak—meat could be incorporated into the meal rather than being a main dish.
*Shop for Christmas and birthday’s year-round—have a gift box
*Use the public library
*Print using draft mode when possible rather than the regular mode—it saves expensive ink.
More frugal steps that require a bit more work:
*Cook more meals at home from scratch
–Not Just Beans is a great frugal and simple cookbook
-Learn to appreciate beans and other meatless complete proteins
*Have only enough clothes for a week—maybe 1 ½ weeks—at least for the kids. Less $$$, easier to sort laundry…
*Cut back on extracurricular activities
-More and more studies are showing your kids need more downtime anyway
*Learn how to cut hair
-Gardening—grow some of your own food (Salad greens are a great way to start)
-Sewing—sew your own or your kids’ clothes, mending, make your own home accents (valances, decorative pillows, etc)
-Knitting/crocheting—baby shower gifts! and other gifts in general
*Pay off all credit card debt and always pay the full balance every month!
*Know where to get good deals (Clearance racks, Dollartree—be careful there though. Many things cost less at Wal-Mart, and there is the temptation to buy more than you need because it is only a dollar)
*Subscribe to Dollar Stretcher and Dollar Stretcher for Parents (mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
*One instance where I will buy at full price–when I need now it and I can’t find it for less (e.g. most groceries). Otherwise, I almost always buy items discounted or used.
*Wait for it to go on sale, use what you have, use it up, make do with what you have, or do without
*Look for sales in ads, online (half.com, etc). Make sure it is really a sale–some places mark prices up and then have a “sale”, others just have inflated prices and their sales bring the price down to the same everyday price of other stores.
*Don’t just buy something because it’s on sale.
*Put $$ you save from each grocery trip/hair cut/etc. into a savings account, or use it to pay off debt (and then, after the debt is paid off, put that saved money into your savings account)
*Only buy what you need and what you will use.
-Do you really need that CD/ DVD?
-Do you really need another knick knack. . . even if it is really cute?
*When you pick up an item that you like but aren’t sure you need, ask yourself, “do I want this enough that I am willing to take care of it?” referring to the extra cleaning, storage, etc. that it will require.
There are so many more ideas! Please leave your own favorites. I’ll be adding more as I have time.