I often get the label of frugal.  I find this strange.  It surprises me that people see me that way, since I don’t really consider myself very frugal.  I suppose it depends on your point of view.  Compared to some I am exceedingly frugal.  Compared to others I am wasteful.  And that’s right where I like to be, between the extremes.

There definitely is a scale of frugality.  Everyone lies somewhere between extreme spending and extreme frugality.  This blog as helped me move towards frugality on that scale.

If you would like to be more frugal but can’t seem to get started, here are some tips.

1. Track your spending:  If you are not tracking your spending then this is where you should start.  It’s the road map to good financial skills.  You can’t know where you are, where you want to be, or how to get there if you don’t have an idea of how you are spending your money.

2. Start small:  You don’t have to wake up one morning and have a brand new set of habits.  Work on them slowly over time.  Pick one area of your spending to work on at a time.  I started with groceries.  And not even all my groceries, I started with meat.  I was never an ad checker, but I knew I should be.  But it was overwhelming.  So I started very small.  I would go through the ads and only look at the meats.  After a while I got an idea of what the various meats should cost.  When there was good a deal, and when it was all just smoke and mirrors.  Scoring a few good deals got me excited and gave me confidence.  Then I got curious about what else was in those ads.  Now I use them to plan my meals and stock up on all my groceries.

You might not want to start with groceries.  That’s fine.  You can start with your laundry, or entertainment, or your car, or your bathroom stuff.  Whatever.  Just start looking for ways to spend less money in your chosen category.  Once you feel like you’ve made significant progress then…

3. Branch out:  Once I felt like I had the grocery bill under control I started looking at other things.  I became a sale shopper, with coupons in hand.  Constantly looking to shave a few bucks off my total.  Always thinking, could I get this cheaper?  Will this make it to the next markdown?  Can I find a coupon online?  Can I get free shipping?

4. Take it easy:  Don’t get so caught up in finding a great deal that you buy things you have no use for.  This is harder than it sounds because getting a good deal can be addicting.  Just because something is 90% off doesn’t mean that you need it.  If it’s not something you would buy anyways then you aren’t being frugal.  You can’t spend money to save money.

Pic by: rogerwp

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