Make more money – that’s what everyone’s goal seems to be. While that’s not a bad thing to strive for, there is something that is little bit more worthwhile and that is to learn how to spend your money better. Managing your money is a step that goes hand in hand with making more money. However, to learn how to manage your money is just as tough a challenge as to actually make more of it. Many try – and fail – to spend their money as well as they could. And that is why even those who earn much or already have plenty of cash end up being financially challenged.
A frugal life, that’s the kind of life that everyone should start striving for. But many don’t really know how to do it properly, so even if they try they stumble along the way. There’s an actual process to it and just like in any other process, you need to do it the right way for it to succeed.
What follows is
something of a guide that will serve to help you learn how to live frugally:
Be Smart with Expenses
Living frugally is to live smartly, which is why it is really the ideal kind of life for everyone. One of the very first things that you can do is to take a careful look at your present monthly expenses, specifically the purchases that you make. It would be best if you print it out so you can examine the hard copy more closely. What are your most common purchases? What are the things that you buy all the time and yet is not something that can be considered necessary?
Once you answer these rather simple questions, then you can start cutting back on your expenses. The trick is to do it gradually, as you do not want to significantly alter your lifestyle in such a short period of time. That might be a little too fast for your own good and your real goal is to slightly reduce your expenses and have only the “essentials” remain.
Monitor Your Finances on a Regular Basis
If you can, you should try to do it every week. If you could spare about half an hour of your time each week for the assessment of your finances, then that would be enough. Study where your money went – the things that you spent it on and how much of it went to your savings, if any. You should try to keep track of your money this way every week. It might seem like a task to do this sometimes, but you’ll appreciate its usefulness in the long run as you can see some trends and little bits of useful information.
People who are financially successful have a very good and accurate feel for their financial situation, which allows them to make better and more sound decisions relating to it. And there available tools that can help you do this more easily. Some of those tools are: Microsoft Money, Wesabe, Geezeo, Mint, Quicken, and even Excel.
Automatic bill payments will allow you to manage your bills more effectively. This might not readily seem like an idea that would be helpful to your finances, but it could be useful in the long run. If you’re set up for automatic bill payment, you’ll have to keep up with your payments however it might be challenging. That’s still better than having to miss out or run late with some of your bills.
Knowing that your credit report is going to suffer from any lateness or failure to make payments will also motivate you to make the necessary effort. You would also have a good idea of how much you’ll have left and how much of it you could actually set aside, if possible. After you’ve set up the bills that you want to be paid automatically, you can ease your mind a bit and try to focus on other things. But you need to keep note of all the bills that you’ve set up for this type of payment. The notes that you have will be helpful in determining the state of your finances.
Cut Down on Eating Out
It might seem at first to be too much of a stretch for this to actually be of help but it can be quite effective, especially if you and your family have a habit of eating out in expensive places. Or, it could also seem a little too much as it intrudes in something that you and your loved ones enjoy doing together. If it sounds like a challenge, then it is probably fine to treat it as such – a challenge that would require you to eat at home more frequently. It might just be once a month or you could make it more often if you want. From there, you could also try to find how you could save money while dining out.
Don’t Buy Your Entertainment
You need not buy all the books and movies that you like; you can find other sources from which you could enjoy them. It is easy for everyone to notice how pricey watching movies and buying brand new books have become, which is why you need to be creative to be able to continue enjoying them without breaking your wallet. One sure source for both is the library, yes you could simply head to the nearest local library and enjoy some great books and even movies there. Another option that is a little similar to this is renting, which can also help in saving some money as it is relatively cheaper than actually purchasing the books or movies.
Be Mindful of Your Electric Consumption
You can effectively save even more money by simply turning off the lights and other electrical appliances whenever they are not in use. That might not seem like something that’s significant or could have any long term effect, but it can surely help out financially. And there is really no point in not switching appliances and devices off when nobody’s really using them, so always make sure to turn off when needed.
Temptations are bound to come your way, so be sure to be resistant to each one. The usual case of a person becoming tempted occurs when he gets some extra income and he feels that he could spend it on anything that he likes. That is the moment that he needs to remain steadfast on saving and try to put away the extra money as fast as possible.
The number one option is to simply put it in a current savings account and then try to forget about it or pretend that you didn’t put anything there. You might be a little hesitant to do this at first, but in due time you will be thankful that you did it. All that you really need to have is the right amount of discipline and determination, and you’ll be fine. Being where you want to be financially is not always that easy to attain, but if you learn to do things the right way then there is no reason why you couldn’t be in that ideal situation. Living the frugal life can definitely be the ideal life for you.