Two of the best ways to get ahead financially are to earn more and to spend less. If you are looking to spend less and to embrace frugality, there are 10 tips that will help you keep more money in your pocket to grow your wealth. These strategies are useful for anyone, but especially if you currently have a limited income due to job loss or reduction or to pursuing higher education.
Tip 1: Do Without. Often we think we need something only to find it gathering dust a few weeks later, after the novelty has worn off. One blogger I know has urged people not to buy stuff. Buy necessities like food and personal care items, but don’t buy “stuff”. For instance, if you have three pairs of jeans, do you really need a fourth pair? Sure, you might have to do the laundry more often, but three pairs should be plenty.
Tip 2: Find It for Free. So you have tried to do without and determined that you really do need the item. Let’s say you can’t stand the heat of summer anymore and you want an air conditioner. Before you pull out any money, why not see if you can find it for free? Freecycle.org is a great place to look for items that you may need that others no longer want. You can also try asking around. My mom works at a university, and she had two air conditioners she was no longer using. A grad student was complaining about how hot his apartment was, and she let him borrow the air conditioner for the summer.
Tip 3: Buy It Used. The Duggars, America’s most famous big family, often recites the motto, “Buy it used and save the difference.” Indeed, you don’t have to be a family of 21 like the Duggars to benefit from this slogan. Craigslist.org is a wonderful resource to buy things you need at a discounted price as our garage sales. I bought a blender at a garage sale 15 years ago for $3. It just now is reaching the point where it needs to be replaced. Let someone else pay full price; you can buy it used and save quite a bit of money.
Tip 4: Don’t Pay Full Price—Ever. There really is no reason to pay full price for something. If you can’t find it for free or used, there are other strategies you can use such as waiting until it is on sale or clearance. Using coupons is another way to reduce the price. Combining coupons with a sale price will often reduce the price significantly.
Tip 5: Negotiate. Everything is negotiable. When you realize this and become comfortable with the negotiation process, you will be able to save thousands of dollars. The best strategy to negotiate successfully is to be willing to walk away, which you can do if you take your emotions out of the process. We found an apartment we loved last winter, but it was out of our price range. We were beginning the negotiation process with the landlord, but he decided he didn’t want to negotiate at that point and kept looking for a renter who would pay full price. Two weeks later, I was surprised when he called us up and asked if we would still like the apartment. He was willing to pay ALL of our utilities including our electric if we signed immediately. This arrangement easily saved us $2,000 a year because we were willing to walk away even though we loved the apartment.
Learning to be more frugal requires a change in mindset, but once that change is made, the smart financial choices become second nature. Next week we will finish the series with five more tips for living a frugal lifestyle.
What are your favorite frugal living tips?
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