Frugal Living

This article focuses on methods of cutting costs in the household, simplifying the budget, appreciating thrift over fancy and other frugal ideas in order to achieve important goals in life.

There are several ways to approach a simple lifestyle. The catch is if you are disciplined enough to maintain this way of life. The challenges are many, but the advantages out weigh them in spades.

Cutting costs now and pocketing the money for your future only makes sense. We all want a comfortable retirement, but few are willing to make the sacrifices necessary now to achieve this goal. This is where lifestyle changes come in. By changing how you budget, saving money and organizing your days, you are on your way to success.

Here are some prime examples:

* make things from scratch

* stock up on wholesale products whenever possible

* save on heating by putting plastic over windows and unused doorways to attics or basements

* pay the bills first, then distribute allowances and entertainment spending

* follow a budget to the nickel every week

* recycle things to use for other purposes whenever possible

* use coupons, freebies and opportunities to get second hand items as often as possible

These are just a few of the many hundreds of ways to cut costs in order to live a more simple and frugal life. Finances are just one part of this goal, however. Developing an appreciation for this way of life is a very important step, otherwise interest will, more than likely, be lost quickly. Here are some ways to incorporate living simply with entertaining:

* Picking your own fruit and vegetables: by doing this, you are saving on produce costs and participating in a family outing at once.

* Baking instead of buying can involve the entire family, rather than spending money on outside bakeries and entertainment.

* Gardening (on your property or in a container): promotes healthier eating, group activities and saves on the cost of produce and outside entertainment.

* Visit the library for books and video rentals instead of the book store and video store.

* Go on a picnic or have a barbeque instead of going out to eat.

* If your destination is in walking distance and you are not pressed for time, leave your car keys behind and take your family for a walk. This will save on automobile related expenses, promote healthy activity and save money on outside entertainment.

Boredom is very expensive, there is no getting around this fact. By developing new strategies such as those listed above, you will find stronger family values developing and more money in your pocket. Be creative with how you and your family spend time and you will find you are all leading more quality lives.

Invest in your child's future now. Develop good spending habits and establish a savings account early on or from the beginning, if possible, in order to make this lifestyle change even less of a struggle. Families are reporting a savings of over four hundred dollars per year just from putting their pocket change (coin) into "piggy banks," then depositing it into interest bearing accounts.

Living better and living smarter by doing research and being honest with yourself in terms of your goals are the keys to success. Some helpful resources include:

* Frugal Luxuries: Simple Pleasures to Enhance Your Life and Comfort Your Soul, by Tracey McBride

* Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons: Celebrate Holidays with Elegance and Simplicity - on Any Income, by Tracey McBride

* Frugal Families: Making the Most of Your Hard Earned Money, by Jonni McCoy

* The Frugal Almanac: Over 500 Money-Saving Idea's, by Consumer Guide,Melodie Moore

* The American Frugal Housewife, by Lydia Maria Maria Child

* The Complete Tightwad Gazette, by Amy Dacyczyn

* The Tightwad Gazette II: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Alternative Lifestyle, by Amy Dacyczyn

* The Tightwad Gazette III: Promoting Thrift as a Viable Lifestyle, Vol. 3, byAmy Dacyczyn

* Slash Your Debt : Save Your Money and Secure Your Future, by Gerri Detweiler,Nancy Castleman,Marc Eisenson

* The Everything Money Book: Learn how to Manage, Budget, Save, and Invest Your Money so There's Plenty Left Over, by Rich Mintzer,Kathi Mintzer

More tips to consider:

* Utilize budget envelopes: the budget envelope method is really quite simple and easy to follow. First, make a master budget worksheet listing each monthly expense in detail right down to birthday cake candles. Next, for every expense you have, set aside an envelope. On the outside of each envelope, make a separate column for the following: nature of expense, amount owed, due date and date paid. On your budget worksheet, multiply your expenses by twelve, then divide them each by fifty-two and write that amount on the outside of each corresponding envelope. That how much you'll need to put in each envelope on pay day in order to stay faithful to your budget. Don't forget to have a "slush fund" envelope prepared for unexpected bill increases or emergencies. This method, is you are disciplined enough not to dip into the envelopes, will ensure payment of bills and force you to find alternate and less costly forms of entertainment.

* If you're not using it - don't leave it plugged in. If you're not in the room, turn off the light. If you're not using the computer or watching your television, shut them off. Families are reporting a savings of up to $15.00 per month by following this simple advice.

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