I consider frugality an art form and a religious conviction. My upbringing included the adage, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” Recycling and reusing just about everything was learned at my mother’s knee and she is still a master of the art!
My faith instructs me that all things are gifted by God and so I am compelled to be a good steward of my gifts. [The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man. Psalm 115:16]
My limited income implores me to be judicial in my spending decisions. Even when my income was more than adequate allow to me to live quite comfortably, I found great satisfaction in coupon saving totals and resisted paying full price for anything, just on general principle!
You may think that saving a few dollars a week won’t make any difference in your life over the long run. Before you decide against hopping on board this program, let’s do a little math. If you manage to save $100 a month the first month and every month for 12 months, then the second month save an additional $100 every month for the rest of the year, and so on: you will have saved $7,800 at the end of 12 months.
Just to drive my point home, I’ve included a fairly realistic example of how small changes can equal substantial savings, and the prices I used are probably low. Start out slowly! You don’t have to make all these changes at once. In fact, you’ll be more like to make the changes if you introduce additional changes gradually.
Example – Skip fast food 1x a week for your family of four (2 adults and 2 children)
Medium Value Meal avg. cost: $6.50 x 2 = $13; Kid’s meal avg. cost: $3.50 x 2 = $7 = Total saved per trip: $20
The average American family eats fast food, delivery meals or takeout meals several times a week. If you eliminate 1 fast food meal a week you’ll save $80.00 a month using the example above. Over the course of a year, you will have saved $960!
Not convinced? KTRK-TV/DT conducted a shopping trip for 14 items. “The national brands cost us $41.54, while the generic products cost $27.47. That’s a savings of $14. Remember, we’re talking about the exact same shopping list with only 14 items . . . Many of the same ingredients in the better known national brands are also in the contents of their generic counter parts.”
I’m sure your grocery list includes more than 14 items, but you can extrapolate the savings for your own grocery list! This one easy change can net you $728 savings over the course of a year!
Lather, rinse, don’t repeat – Especially if you shampoo your hair every day, there is absolutely no reason to lather up twice! Saved: water, $ on shampoo, time.
Skip the drive thru – You will save time, gas (and the environment) if you park your car and go inside the bank or pharmacy. Typically the line inside is shorter because everyone is programmed to believe they save time by going through the drive-thru. Saved: gas, time, the environment.
Skip the movie theater – Nowadays, movies come out on DVD relatively soon after general release to the theaters. Subscriptions to Blockbuster or Netflix cost as little as $9.00 per month for the luxury of viewing as many movies as you would like to see whenever you have time. That’s the cost of a single movie ticket in most markets! Saved: $, time, gas.
Skip fast food – (see example above)Not only will you lose weight and be healthier, you’ll save money by preparing meals at home. The items on every fast food menu in the nation are readily available in the grocery store so you can prepare them quickly and less expensively yourself-and even squeeze in a little extra quality family time. Saved: calories, time, $, quality of family life.
Be your own barista – Get a coffee maker that has a timer on it. Set it up the night before to begin brewing a few minutes before your alarm goes off. Many coffee makers offer the option to grind your own beans. You can even sleep a little later every morning because you don’t have to use extra time to stand in line for overpriced coffee! Saved: $, time and gas.
Buy in bulk – Even if you’re single or you buy for two or three people, buying in bulk can be a great cost-savings. For creative ideas to save money buying in bulk, read my article, Creative Storage and Cost-cutting Tips for Buying in Bulk. Saved: $, time and gas (fewer trips to the store).
Lose your land line – We realized the other day that between the five of us (my husband, son, daughter, son-in-law and me) we have five cell phones! Do you even call anyone’s home phone number any more? Saved: $, telemarketing calls.