Retired & Widowed

Judy is retired and recently widowed. She talks about living on a fixed retirement income as a widow

Getting Specific. Where Do I Start?

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The road to becoming financially frugal is going to be challenging for me, but I know with discipline and patience I will get there.  Frugality is basically saving money rather than spending it. Acknowledging my weakness for spending was an important first step. I am motivated to change and I feel good about the path I am on.  Now where do I start? 

Track your spending.

You cannot save money until you know what you are spending your money on. Carry a small notebook with you everywhere you go to record your purchases. This can be quite revealing and it helps to identify those areas where you can cut back. Many of us shop mindlessly-- I know I did.

Change the way you shop.

It became very clear to me that I needed to tackle the way I shopped. I started with the most obvious: groceries. After my husband died I continued to shop for groceries much the same way I always had, buying ice cream and hostess Twinkies "just in case."  Unfortunately I was not saving them for "just in case" because I was eating them. When I decided to improve my health, my eating habits changed dramatically. Subsequently, my grocery bills started to decrease as well. Oh, and for the first time in 36 years I started clipping coupons again. I always seemed to be so busy I "didn't have time" for clipping coupons. I learned quickly that making the time to clip coupons and planning menus ahead of time saved me money.

Recognize that making changes will take action, not only words.

Making a firm commitment to change poor spending habits requires that you take specific actions. Just talking about what you want to accomplish is not enough; you must have an actionable plan. It may be something that you must do daily  (like keeping track of your spending), or weekly (like reviewing all of your receipts).  No matter what, the plan will require specific steps to ensure success. I have found that listing these steps out on my calendar helps to make them a habit. I check my calendar every morning to see what I have planned for my day.  

Stop using credit cards, and pay cash.

Not using credit cards for everyday purchases sounds like common sense, but the ugly truth is that many of us have become reliant on them to buy all the "toys" we want and believe now to be essential. When you think about using your credit card, think abut someone stealing your money, because that is what those interest rates really are. Pay off your credit cards and get rid of all of them but one. If you can be responsible, you can use it but pay it off in full every month, or just keep one for dire emergencies only. There are a wealth of websites, blogs, and articles out there with great ideas on how to extend your dollar or curb expenses. If back to school has you in a cold sweat, start calling family and friends for quality hand-me-downs. Look for alternative solutions first, before you pull out the plastic.

Save on Energy

Don't make more trips in the car more than you need to. Organize yourself; do all your errands at one time. If you are working, do errands on the way in or out of the office. If you are not in a room then turn off your lights, computer, and television when you are not using them. Check with your local utility provider for even more savings tips. I have found a ton on my provider's website.

I hope my tips help someone else who is seeking to become financially frugal. Have you found a unique way to save on everyday expenses? Please share your successes with me and how they were achieved. The two links I have provided below contain valuable information to help you on your road to financial freedom.

Related Links:

How to say goodbye to credit cards

The Debt Diva Self Challenge

 Finding support within Communities

Judy Kline

Judy is retired and recently widowed. She is a contributing author for the Retired & Widowed blog where she shares what she has learned about living on a fixed retirement income as a widow. Judy is an amateur photographer and has nine grandchildren. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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  • Everything suggested is just common sense.  Unfortunately, in today's world, we are so busy trying to make money and balance our home life that common sense sometimes takes a backseat to quick fixes.

  • Thanks Tiquie, I could not agree more about the common part of common sense being less available with todays hectic schedules!

  • It seems now there are many more resources and options for those who need some help. The really great trend I am noticing these days is that there are tons of people out there talking about debt and related financial matters. It doesn't feel as taboo

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