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Frugal Living - The Real Key

When you think of frugal living, do you think it means being miserable, or giving up what you want? If so, you are thinking about it all wrong. Frugality is simply the practice of looking for the less expensive alternatives. Buy things for less, and what do you get? More money left over to buy more of what you want! Frugality doesn't have to mean being a scrooge or living without comfort.

However, maybe you don't like the idea of clipping coupons and buying clothes at rummage sales. If so, that's okay. It never was and never will be the important part of truly frugal living. For it to be the most beneficial, frugality has to start with the big things, and if it never gets down to the small items, you'll still be further ahead financially than most people.

Frugal Living Examples

Example number one: Search the Sunday paper for coupons and clip them out. Make a list of things on sale that you can stock up on in order to get your average cost down. Plan and run a route of four stores in order to get everything where it is the cheapest. Total extra time spent: three hours.

Example number two: Sit with a pen and paper and determine what you really need in your new house to be happy. List the cheapest homes that meet your criteria. Make several extra phone calls and check out several bank websites to get the interest rate down to 6.25% from the 6.75% you were expecting to pay. Total extra time spent: three hours.

In the first example, let's assume you save on your groceries for your effort. Your frugality made you about per hour. In the second example, suppose you found a suitable home for ,000 less. Let's say you only have to borrow 0,000 at 6.25% instead of 0,000 at 6.75%. Your payment would be 9 less per month, for a total savings of ,900 over the thirty years of the mortgage. In this case, your frugality made you about ,000 per hour.

I think you can see that it is the big stuff that makes a difference in frugal living. On the other hand, sometimes the small stuff is the big stuff, especially when it is repeated over and over. This is why it makes sense to save money on groceries. They are something you buy every week. How you do it makes a difference though.

For example, suppose you don't want to clip coupons or spend time looking at sales flyers. Let's face it; if it only saves you per hour of effort, you might be better off staying a few hours extra at work and skip the hassle. On the other hand, why not invest just an hour or two to figure out which store is cheapest for the things you buy? Then shop only there, and buy more of the things you use and like when they are on sale. You might still save per week, with no additional investment of time. That's a ,000 per year!

Have you read newsletters and magazines about saving money? They often have tips on things like how to re-use plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Is it worth the time to wash out and dry your ziplock bags? Maybe, if you like that sort of thing, and you are making minimum wage. For most of us, it is better to spend the time analyzing the big and the recurring expenditures. That is the key to frugal living.

About the Author: Steve Gillman studies money. To learn more unusual ways to make and save money, and how you can get free e-courses and e-books, visit his website: Unusual Ways To Make Money

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