Frugal Times

In this downturn we all need to look at our expenses and see where we can cut back, change the way we do things, or even do something different all together. We may even need to learn to be frugal like our grandparents!

Looking At Expenses

In order to cut back you need to know where all the money is going. The best way to do this is to write down every single cent you spend for at least a week, preferably two. And then add it all up. You may be surprised to see how just much you are spending every week on your take-out coffee at work, not to mention the muffin that goes with it!

Monthly Bills

Look at your monthly bills. Are you paying them on time, or do you get a penalty charge for paying late? That's something you can get rid of straight away. Just pay on time! If there is a cash flow problem why not open up a household budget account with the bank. With this type of account you pay in a fixed sum every month, usually a twelfth of your annual bills, and pay all your bills either by check or direct debit when they are due. This helps to spread the costs throughout the year and saves you money on all those penalty charges!

Credit Cards

Do you check your statements every month to see how much you spent and on what? How much did your partner charge on your card? What rate of interest are you paying? Do you know? Try to use the card that gives you the lowest rate of interest and pay off more than the minimum each month. If you have serious debt, see a debt counselor who may be able to help you consolidate your cards and work out a payback plan with the credit card company.

Cutting Back

Remember how Dad always said, "Turn the lights off! Do you think I'm made of money?" Just turning off the lights when no one's in the room, and not leaving all your electrical appliances on standby can save a whole bunch of money. Switching to low-energy light bulbs will help too. And you won't even notice, except with lower electricity bills!

Changing How You Do Things

Can you walk instead of using the car for a journey of less than a mile? That will not only save money, but it's healthier too. And why not go for a bike ride instead of going to a spinning class at the gym? Perhaps you can share a ride to work or even telecommute part-time and cut down on your travel costs. Every little bit helps.

Doing Things Differently

Instead of buying all your vegetables from the store, you can turn part of your yard into a vegetable garden. If you don't feel confident about your gardening skills, why not offer to share the plot with an experienced gardener, or gardening group and split the crop. And there's nothing like eating something you just picked from the garden!

Learning To Be Frugal

We may not know how to be frugal but our grandmothers certainly did. Like homemade soup with bread straight from the oven, going camping as a family instead of summer camp, and making their own cards and gifts instead of buying things from store. If we ask their advice and follow their example we can not only save money but it can bring us closer together as a family. Being frugal may even turn out to be fun!

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