Adopting a few frugal habits can have a tremendous impact on your bank account. Many people have more bills than income. Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to take care of normal everyday obligations. Although you might be unable to increase your paycheck, adopting a few simple frugal habits might improve your cash flow. And with additional cash, there are more opportunities to increase your personal savings and pay off debt.
1. Avoid Costly Convenient Foods
Whether it's fast food, prepackaged foods or frozen foods, avoiding convenient food items is one of the best frugal habits you can adopt. These foods are convenient because they’re quick and easy to prepare; and unfortunately, you'll pay for this convenience. You can save money and eat healthier by purchasing fresh produce and vegetables, and preparing your own meals at home.
2. Frugal Gifting
There is no rule that says you have to go broke buying gifts. There are many ways to give gifts and keep cash in your pocket. For example, if you're an excellent baker, you could bake pies or cookies and give these to gift recipients. Or if you have a rewards credit card, redeem your points for gift cards and give these as gifts.
3. Look for Used Items First
If you need to buy clothes, household items or electronics, always look for used merchandise first. Chances are that you'll find what you need for less. Good options include the thrift store, a consignment store, flea markets or online marketplaces.
4. Never Leave Home without a Coupon
I adopted this frugal habit years ago and the savings have been impressive. Nowadays, you can find a coupon for just about anything from clothes to concerts. Check LivingSocial and Groupon before planning any type of entertainment. Also, keep a close eye on your mailbox or check the newspaper for deals and promotions.
5. Exercise on the Cheap
Exercise gyms offer a lot from fitness classes to equipment, but with high registration and monthly membership fees, you're better off exercising at home. The truth is, there are plenty of ways to get into shape without committing to a monthly membership. For example, buy a couple of fun workout DVDs, purchase a bike, jog in the park or take inexpensive Zumba classes at the rec center.
6. Brown Bag It
If you're always rushing in the mornings, there's probably little time to pack a lunch. However, if you eat out five days a week, you can spend $25-$30 on food each week — that's at least $100 a month. You can save a ton by bringing your lunch — maybe last night’s leftovers.
7. Go Smaller and save Money
There's a misconception that bigger is always better. Therefore, some people quickly upgrade their lifestyles when they come into more money. However, the more you have, the more you have to maintain. Additionally, the more you have, the less cash you’ll have for savings. Rather than always upgrading your lifestyle, live simple. This might include an inexpensive car and a cheaper home.
Being frugal doesn't suggest restrictive spending. There are plenty of ways to get the things you need without breaking the bank. If you adopt these habits, you'll have more cash for savings, paying off debt or simply enjoying life.
What frugal habits have worked for you?