Frugality Doesn't Have To Be a PainFrugal living.  Does that phrase excite you or fill you with dread?  Some of us love the challenge of being frugal and living below your means.  But for a lot of people, words like "frugal" and "budget" conjure up images of boring, dreary life spent separating two ply toilet paper and washing out sandwich baggies.

Trust me; it's not like that at all!  (Well, if you use sandwich baggies, you should probably reuse them just to cut down on disposable waste, but it's a lot easier to just get a sandwich container that is designed to be reusable and washable.)  

Being frugal means different things to different people, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach.  

The most important thing is to focus on what matters to you, instead of just trying to follow someone else's approach.  

Personally, even though I've been frugal all my life, I find it tedious to make a detailed budget or write down everything we spend.  So although I did it for a while, I don't anymore.  Instead, we use the pay ourselves first method.  

Each month - as soon as we get paid - I set aside the amount we want to save (some automated, some manually depending on our income, which fluctuates since we're self-employed). Then we know exactly how much we have left to cover our expenses for the rest of the month.  We put all of our purchase on a credit card, which makes it easy to track our spending online as the month goes along.  Expenses that can't go on the credit card (like our mortgage) are easy to track because they're consistent and come straight out of our bank account.  So we set aside a good chunk for savings each month, account for our fixed expenses, and the variable part is how much we have left over for day-to-day spending like groceries, clothing and entertainment.

The exciting part of frugal living comes when you start seeing progress towards your goals - which again, will be different for everyone.  

Do you want to be able to live on one income so one parent can stay home with the kids?  Do you want to retire early?  Do you want to be able to live on a low income without feeling like there's never enough money at the end of the month?  Do you want to build up a significant savings cushion so that you can weather the various financial storms of life?  Do you want to be able to contribute more of your income to charity?  

Whatever your financial goals, living frugally can help you achieve them.

The first step is to get over the mindset that living frugally is boring or difficult.  It's just a matter of changing from spendthrift habits to frugal ones.  Focus on the frugal habits that seem easiest at first, and let your frugal muscles grow with time.  

Hate to cook?  Maybe you shouldn't commit to cooking every meal from scratch right from the get-go.  Love the outdoors?  Maybe you'd be a good candidate for swapping your weekly dinner-and-a-movie date night for a hike or a simple picnic in the park.  

Start by focusing on the changes that will be easy and/or fun, and then as you start to see progress in terms of reduced expenses and increased savings, you'll probably be more motivated to make changes that at first seemed difficult or impossible.

Frugal Babe, Guest Mommy Blogger for Leading Financial Service Provider CareOne Debt Relief Services

 

Frugal Babe, CareOne Guest Financial Lifestyle Blogger

Frugal Babe is a mid-30s American wife and mama who has been careful with money since childhood and loves the flexibility that her frugality has given her.  It allows her family to live below their means and be relatively free from financial worries.  She and her husband have two little boys and a giant garden, along with a home-based business and a yard/mini forest that is constantly a work in progress.  Her favorite place to shop is Goodwill, and she loves the challenge of creating a modern, stylish-looking home and wardrobe using almost exclusively second hand goods.  She's been blogging about her frugal adventures since 2006.