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Money stresses me out.  How much do I have?  How much did I spend?  How can I save it?  Where did I spend it?  It makes me crazy.  Over these past couple of months, I have been struggling with my own financial demise.  I have decided that I need to tighten the household belt; a decision I have wrestled with for several months.  I hate to think that I am living far beyond my means.  Unfortunately, it seems that way and I hate the truth of this cold, hard fact.  Oddly enough, I find it comforting to know that I am not the only one going through this; I know that I am not alone.  At any rate, I came to the conclusion that I am going to really dive into making-an-attempt-to-try-to be more self conscious of spending habits and tracking my money……….maybe.

This is to help anyone else who finds the aforementioned reality unnerving and would like to make a change.  After searching tips, how-to’s, frugal websites and everything in between, there is one common theme.  Here are a few steps to get the financial security that seems to be a far off, distant dream.  I have been “practicing” some of these habits and they seem to be sort-of working.  Enjoy.

Step One:  Keep a record of what you spend. Like so many things, for me spending is out of sight, out of mind.  I don’t comprehend what I have spent until all of the money is almost gone.  Then I am chocked full of guilt and never again want to spend another red cent.  It just seems easier to make an honest effort to realize where I am wasting money before it is gone rather than waiting until it is too late.  Frivolous spending habits are hard to break.  Hopefully this helps to break that cycle.

Step two:  Make out a budget that works for your lifestyle. Some families like to use “household notebooks” and have extensive files.  These universal budget templates that websites offer are great for those with large families and large budgets to match but let’s be realistic here.  The categories of my personal budget would go something like this:  Gross Monthly Income; Net Monthly Income; Total Monthly Household Expenses (sub-headings may be appropriate) and Profit/Loss.  More than likely, I would hang this on my refrigerator or turn it into a calendar.  Find something similar to your lifestyle and make it your own.  Don’t forget to make it fun- you may be able to turn it into a craft.

Step three:  Do it yourself. I love my country and I love being a citizen of the US but the American public as a whole has become way too lazy and too wasteful for anyone’s good.  We throw away everything after one use.  Plastic bags, bottles, newspapers, etc.  These items have a shelf life of forever and can be used a thousand different ways.  Get creative and use your stuff!  With that being said, there are also too many services we pay for that could easily be done for free with just a bit of gumption.  Mow your own grass.  Walk your own dog.  Paint your own house.  These simple tasks are being outsourced to other people.  This simple step will potentially save you tons of money.  Tons of it.  I mean, really, why have a dog if you don’t even want to walk it?


Step four:  Coupon clipping can be extremely beneficial if you know what you are doing. It may seem like an enormous waste of time but trust me, if you know what to look for and know how to find the good deals, this is a great way to stockpile extra cash.  The trick is not to be fooled by those items you really don’t need (save $.50 on twelve boxes of cereal, etc.)  I clip all the coupons that my family uses and stash them in an envelope that I grab on the way to the store.  Once I arrive at said store, I grab a circular to see if there are any specific deals and I put those coupons first.  If I see something in the isle and remember that I have a coupon for an alternative brand, I use it.  Viola!  Money saved without a huge, long, drawn out coupon clipping production.  For the record, I saved $21.75 on my groceries this week.


Step five:  Cook at home; even if you have to force yourself. Cooking at home is hard, especially when you are only cooking for one or two people.  It is so much easier to grab something quick on the way home from work.  Unfortunately, that is way too expensive for almost any household.  I have found that if I pick out what we are having before I go to work, I can plan throughout the day.  For example, I will tell myself as I am driving to work “I feel like Italian tonight.”  So throughout the day, I find recipes that sound appealing and pick something to make with ingredients I already have (there are recipe data bases where you can enter ingredients and it will give you a recipe.)  This avoids having to stop on the way home.  Also, I can have a mental note all ready for when I get home on what exactly needs to be done.  I must say, however, that crock pots are awesome.  I love the fact that I can prepare dinner before work and when I get home, everything is done.  Love it!


So there you have it.  A few simple steps in maintaining a “simple-life” budget without really even trying.  There are so many things that we as Americans waste.  Money doesn’t have to be one of them.  What are some frugal tips you have for the rest of us?




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