Habits of the Frugal

I like to think of myself as a relatively frugal person. I tend to think about big purchases and not impulse buy. I do have a few things in my life that I purchase on a weekly basis (like coffee) but I try and limit myself to a certain amount of money per week on food and drink. At the end of the month, I am always able to pay my bills. I have found that often times, people my age struggle to make ends meet and have to live paycheck to paycheck. I have also found that somehow, many of us can struggle to pay bills, but find ways to buy other "necessities". I think that what many of us need is a financial make over. I feel like we all need a nice dose of frugralness (which is probably not a word). I include myself in this category, and I think there are definitely some steps we should take in living more frugal lives as many of our generation are struggling to make ends meet. Here's a few tips I have found help me be more frugal (not cheap...frugal).

Make a Budget

Crazy concept right? I can't tell you how many people I know who do not have a budget actually set out in front of them. You know what? I don't either! I have made out certain parts of my budget, but I don't have a full fledged breakdown of my monthly spending. If you are someone who doesn't have budget and is struggling to make ends meet, try this. Each time you (and your spouse if you have one) make a purchase, write it down. It doesn't matter if it's a pack of gum or a bill payment. Do this for at least one month (I suggest two or three) and see where your money is going each month. You'll be surprised how much money you spend on things you really don't need. Now, am I saying go crazy and stop spending money on everything but the essentials? No, but the exercise will give you an idea of why you aren't able to make ends meet, or how you can save money in other areas.

Be a Well Oiled Machine

What do I mean by this? Well, make sure you are functioning on all cylinders. Make sure you are physically, mentally and emotionally stable. Make sure you are getting out and exercising a few times a week, which is free if you go for a walk. Read a book or the paper each day to break a mental sweat. I like to do crossword puzzles to help keep my brain fresh. Make sure you have people you can talk to and vent when you need to, or just have a day where you hang out with a friend. Seriously, if you aren't making an effort to make sure you are healthy, your savings may take a hit. Why? Well, often times we'll use money to try and make ourselves happier people. Spend some money here and there, and it can bring you monetary happiness. If you are legitimately happy and healthy though, you won't necessarily need to spend money on things that you normally would. Maybe you can pass on that candy bar. Perhaps that chat with your mom, dad or best friend will help you stabilize your mental health. I will say this. Don't cut out all of your treats. Sometimes spending money on a spa day, or a lazy day is just what you need in order to reset your brain. Just don't make it an expensive habit.

Check out a list of seven things you can do to become more frugal. It's called 7 Habits of Highly Frugal People. It's definitely worth the read, and hopefully will help you become more frugal if it's something you struggle with. I know I am going to try to be a little smarter this year!

What are your frugal tips?

Seth P.