I’ve written a ton about frugality on this site and how much money it can really save you, but many of these suggestions seem like major lifestyle changes. “I don’t want to do that!” is a common reaction that people give as they imagine a life of pinching every penny.
The truth is that it’s not about pinching every penny, it’s about freedom. It’s about simply trying different activities and seeing which ones leave you feeling the most fulfilled – and often, those choices happen to be the ones that leave me with the most money in my checking account at the end of the day. Why? I don’t have to worry about making ends meet, and after a while I have the freedom to do whatever I want to do.
Still, trying out frugal things seems overwhelming to some, so here’s a suggestion: try out some frugal activities for one week and see if any of them mesh well with your life.
Here’s a list of ten frugal things you can try this week. All of these are proven ways to save money. Give them all a try and see which ones mesh well with your life. At the end of the week, you might have discovered a few things that can really save you some cash without altering your life in a way you don’t like!
1. Prepare and eat every meal you can at home.
Instead of getting take out, spend this week preparing and eating meals at home. They don’t have to be anything complex, just foods you know how to prepare. You can prepare them in advance if you’d like or simply toss something together when you get home, but prepare them and eat them at home all week long.
2. Drive the speed limit.
Instead of dropping the pedal to the floor to save a few minutes, set your car’s cruise control and go the speed limit. You’ll cut down on your gas mileage a significant amount.
3. Buy generics at the grocery store.
Most people instinctively choose the non-generic name brand item, even though in many cases they’re roughly equivalent in quality. This week, buy the cheaper generics to make a point of seeing which ones you like and which ones you don’t. You’ll have a nice low grocery bill this time – and perhaps a lower bill every time in the future.
4. Entertain yourself with things you already own.
Instead of buying a DVD or a book or renting a movie, find something already on your shelf and enjoy it instead. Got a hobby? Spend some time maintaining what you already have instead of buying more.
Remember those meals you prepared? Use these leftover tricks to make them palatable, even if you are very averse to the whole leftover concept.
6. Check out your community calendar.
Stop by town hall and get a copy of the local community calendar. See if there are any free events worth attending in your town. When I first did this, I was blown away by the variety and quality of free events and things going on around town.
7. Skip the incidentals.
Do you stop every day for a latte on your way into work? Do you pick up a quick snack for the evening commute? For a week, throw them out (or find cheap replacements). Drink coffee at work, or eat a simple snack at home instead.
8. Adjust the temperature by two degrees.
If you’re in a warm climate, raise your indoor temperature by two degrees; if it’s cold, lower it by two degrees. See if you notice much. If you don’t, you’re saving energy – and you’ll have a lower electric bill.
9. Turn on only the lights and devices you need.
My parents have a tendency to turn on things and just leave them on whether they’re being used or not. Hence, they have huge electric bills. Make it a point to only turn on the things you’re using and turn them off when you’re done with them, from light bulbs to computers.
10. Look constantly for less expensive ways to do things.
Instead of using a paper towel to wipe up a small spill, use a dish cloth. Instead of getting your nails done this week, wait a week or learn how to do it yourself. Instead of taking your car in for an oil change, ask someone you know to show you how to do it yourself. There are countless ways to save a little money here and a little money there, and if you make it a conscious part of your life, it adds up to a lot.