Awesome Frugalness: Getting Started

07 April 2009
When I sat out to change the way we spend money and ultimately change our lifestyle, it was hard to know where to start. I finally realized that the first step was figuring out where our money was going. We kept notebooks on us and wrote down every penny we spent for about 6 weeks. If I gave the kids 50 cents for ice cream at school, I wrote it down. Every soda, bag of dog food, stick of gum, every last penny that went out, we listed it all. We were shocked by what we found! So much money going out of the house as unnecessary. I highly suggest starting with tracking your spending.

After you've done that for a month or so, look over what you've written down? How much of it expenses that you HAVE to pay, like utilities, house payment, etc? How much of it was money you didn't need to spend? Sort out your needs and your wants. It's very eye opening.

One big thing with us was the amount of money being spent on DH's breakfast and lunch during the work week. It was about $200 a month, way more than we could comfortably afford. Our first step was me getting up and making his breakfast, something I am not great at I admit. He is not a cereal type of guy. So, some mornings I fix his breakfast and some mornings he eats things like homemade sausage biscuits or breakfast burritos that I make up in bunches and pop in the freezer. He grabs a cup of coffee, a glass of milk, or juice if we have it and has a good meal at a fraction of what he was spending. I also starting packing his lunches, which helped a lot. About a month into this I realized he was still spending $2 or so a day on drinks during lunch, so now I buy sodas and bottled water on sale, usually at CVS with ECBs, and send them along instead. There is almost always a 12 pack of water in our van now for him to have at work. DH doesn't feel deprived and we are saving some serious money.

So, I urge you to think about the money you spend and see if you cannot come up with an alternate solution. If you love candy bars, buy the six bar packages at the grocery store instead of one $1 bar at the Stop & Shop everyday. This is just one of many ways you can save. Your success here will depend on your family situation. Cloth diapers are much more economical than Pampers, but is that a change you're willing to make? Are you willing to make your own baby wipes rather than spend $3 a box on the disposables? What about making your own cleaning solutions and using old rags rather than that tub of cleaning wipes, name brand cleaners, and paper towels? Think out of the box, get creative, and you can see real savings!

Also, find expenses you can completely eliminate if at all possible. One of those in our home was satellite television service. We still watch TV online and don't miss it at all! Really think about what you are spending and if you can be happy without it.

So, tracking your spending is the first step. Then sort out needs versus wants. Cut the things you can live without. Come up with alternate, less expensive plans for the things you cannot do without. These are the first steps to "awesome frugalness".


Unknown said...

That is a rockin post to kick this off. I am so bad about little spending like snacks and soft drinks. That is a great idea to buy a bunch of these and keep them on hand. Thanks for the great first tip and can't wait to read more.

RW said...

I am feeling everything you are saying and taking notes. The tips that you gave are right on target with what I should be doing with my budget. This economy is becoming a hard drag on the pocket book. You've earned my respect, we can all take something good from this post. Keep up the good work!

Also thank you for stopping by my EC market place, I appreciate that.

Jeanie said...

You said some really great tips in here. Thanks for your honesty. I know I want to make some changes!
God Bless!