The Joys of Being Frugal

When some think of the word frugal, words like restriction and limitation come to mind.  While I do think that frugality is necessary to many families these days, I also believe it to be a choice.  When frugality is a choice it can actually bring true contentment and joy, rather than feelings of restriction and limitation.  But even if frugality is not a choice, I have some reasons for you to think about why you can find happiness in the frugal lifestyle:

Delayed gratification is an amazing feeling

Those living the frugal lifestyle usually find joy in setting goals. They’ll do whatever it takes to accomplish that goal.  When you’re doing without in certain areas of your life so you can achieve a financial goal you’ve set for yourself, and the day comes when you get to reap your reward, the feeling is so satisfying!  Knowing that you have no debt in the end and that all the hard work you did really paid off, can bring about an amazing feeling of accomplishment.

Frugal people don’t focus on what they don’t have

Frugal people don’t tend to spend their time focusing on what they don’t have, but rather on the things they do have.  They don’t worry about having a brand new car, they focus on having a car, new or used, that will get them to where they need to be.  What’s most important to them is that they have the basic resources to get done what they need to get done.

Being frugal forces you to be creative

Rather than going out to buy something brand new, frugal people challenge themselves to think creatively   And creativity is fun! Transforming or repurposing a simple object into something useful or fun can bring much joy.  Take for example, the 5 best toys of all time, according to children.

More time to enjoy life

Typically, frugality brings along a more simple lifestyle.  One that will allow you to enjoy life more with less financial worries and more time to do the things you really want to do.

You start taking pleasure in the basic things

Frugality brings about a sense of pleasure in doing the basic things in life.  For example cooking and baking. It can feel so rewarding to make a beautiful loaf of bread with your own two hands. Or creating a delicious soup with some veggies that were a little past their prime.  Connecting with the things that used to be a way of life for those in bygone eras can bring much joy.

You feel healthier

Feeling healthy is enough to make anyone feel good.  Leading a frugal life often leads to healthier choices.  Such as cooking from scratch more often than eating out, or choosing to go for a hike over a night at the movies because it’s free.

There’s joy in knowing we are helping our environment

Many frugal people opt to purchase anything they need secondhand. Not only is this a cheaper way of purchasing what you need, it also helps keep more things out of the landfills.

Your frugality can bless others

There’s very little that makes me happiest than when I am using my skills or abundance to make someone else happy.  Maybe it will simply be giving someone fresh tomatoes I grew in my container garden or mending a shirt when they don’t have the time or knowledge.  Seeing how happy and appreciative the recipient is of the generosity that frugality can afford me, makes me very happy I chose to be frugal.

In what ways would you say frugality brings you joy?

$20 Until Pay Day: How to Get the Most Groceries for Your Dollar

We’ve all been there: pay day is still a week away and you only have $20 to your name. This might feel like a reason to panic, but the truth is, you have options. There are certain tips and tricks you can implement so you can make that $20 go its very farthest and get the most grocery bang for your buck. Take a look at these tip on how to get the most groceries for your dollar. So you can be sure to stretch your food budget the best you can until pay day arrives.

Purchase rice in bulk.

A 2 pound bag of rice will cost you about $2, especially if you buy generic. Rice is perfect for stuffing in tortillas, adding to casseroles, or serving as a side dish. You can even add some milk and sugar to it for rice pudding, and inexpensive dessert idea. ($2)

Purchase beans in bulk.

Consider a 2 pound bag of beans, perfect for using as a side dish, in soups or stews, or add them to wraps. They are full of protein, taste great, and cost pennies per serving. Just soak them to soften them and then cook to your liking. ($2)

Canned vegetables may cost less than fresh.

It can be hard to find fresh produce at a great price. If you can grab cucumbers or peppers for under $1 each grab them. If not, you may be better off buying canned. Head to a store such as Walmart or FreshCo where you can grab canned tomatoes, green beans, corn and peas for less than .80 cents a can. ($3)

Apples and bananas are your cheapest fruit option.

If you thought fresh vegetables were expensive, fresh fruit can be even worse! When you’re on a budget, fresh bananas and apples are your best options. Simple red lunch box apples run about .25 cents each, while bananas are around .70 cents per pound. This is a great way to get the fruit your body needs while staying on budget. ($3)

Powdered drink mixes are pennies per serving.

Beverages can be pricey, so instead, opt for water dressed up with a drink packet if you’re wanting something other than plain water. You can find powered drink mixes for pennies per serving. For calcium, milk may be pricey so opt for a few yogurt cups at .50 cents or so each. ($2)

Chicken will be your most budget friendly choice of meat.

You can often find chicken wings, drumsticks or thighs for a low price so this is your most budget friendly option. Dress them up with salad dressing or simple olive oil and salt and pepper. Some other cheap “meat” 😉 options include deli meat and of course, hot dogs. ($5)

Opt for day old bread choices.

Visit the day old bread store or raid the clearance bin at your local grocer for bread items under $1. Bread is perfect for sandwiches, making garlic bread, making croutons, etc. Plus if you find a great deal on it, you can freeze it. ($3)

Don’t let pay day being days away keep you from eating well. Keep these tips in mind for how to make the most of your grocery budget between pay days and see how much they can help!

How do you make your grocery budget stretch in between pay days?

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5 Ways to Challenge Yourself to Save More Money in 2018

Well, 2018 is officially here. It feels as though I was just a carefree teenager watching the ball drop on the big television we had as a kid. Those days are behind me and today I’m trying to save as much money as possible. However, saving money is never easy. We are born to want things, whether we need them or not. Now that the holiday festivities are over, it will be much easier to start saving money.

5 Ways to Challenge Yourself to Save More Money in 2018

#1. Pack Your Lunch, Every Single Day

This is a bit of a no brainer, but think about how much money you spend throughout the month eating out. Not just for dinner though, think about lunch too. Do you buy snacks from the vending machines in the break room? Do you find yourself heading out for lunch to the nearest fast food joint, or even buying meals off the break truck? It may only be one meal a day, but 5 days a week, and four weeks out of the month can really add up! Challenge yourself to pack your lunches every day. It helps to prepare your lunch the night before, so you will not be able to use the excuse of oversleeping. I challenge you to pack your lunch every day.

 #2. Ponder Your Purchases Ahead of Time

It is important to consider your purchases before forking over your hard-earned money. When it comes to non-essential items, wait three or four weeks before making your purchase. This allows you time to really think about whether you need the item, or if it is just something that you really want. You’d be surprised as to how much money you can save in 2018, when you think of pondering your purchase before you say yes.

 #3. Use Cash Every Chance You Can!

It is so easy to just whip your debit card out of your wallet at the register, but try carrying cash, to make your purchases instead. It is not safe, or smart to carry hundreds of dollars with you, so if you keep small amounts of cash on you. Paying in cash will limit how much you will be able to spend and help you cut down on picking up extras at the store.

 #4. Drink More Water

Probably not the tip you want to hear. However, drinking more water throughout the day is great way to help you eat less. Start each meal by drinking a large glass of water. This will help fill you up, so you will not have to go back for a heaping plate of seconds, which most of us do not need anyway. Then you can save the leftovers for lunch the next day, or freeze them for another time. Not to mention, getting soda or another type of drink, when eating out, can really add up. Be smart and stick with water, your wallet and waistline will thank you.

 #5. Know When to Purchase Quality

There are times that it is okay to shop at the dollar store, but there are also times when it would be wiser to spend a little extra on quality items. For example, instead of getting a new couch at the local discount furniture store, head out to one of the more expensive stores for a quality one that will last you many more years than the cheap one. Don’t get me wrong though, you can still look for the best couch deal, just spend your money on a couch that has a lot more quality.

How do you plan on saving more money in 2018? I’d love to hear your tips.

Reader Testimonial: How I Stopped Living Paycheck to Paycheck

Here's an inspiring story on how one family stopped living paycheck to paycheck. Full of practical tips to help you out.

The following is a Financial success testimonial from Alison!  Enjoy!

This year I had a goal of depositing two full paychecks directly into my savings account on top of my regular monthly 10% savings. I was discussing my budgeting and savings plans with a credit counselor and she told me she had never known someone to be successful at what I was planning…challenge accepted! This past month I was able to successfully do this and wanted to share with other frugal minded individuals how I did it so you can too.

My employer pays me bi-weekly, which means I receive two paychecks every month except for two wonderful months of the year when I receive three paychecks.  At first this provided an interesting budgeting challenge because there are a few ways to calculate a monthly salary:

1.   Take the overall yearly salary and divide it by 12 months.

For example, if I made $39,000 per year and divided that by 12 months, I would get a monthly salary of $3,250. This number is valuable for certain financial situations, but unrealistic for my monthly budgeting.

2.   Add up the paychecks received in a month.

In this scenario, if I made $39,000/year, 10 months of the year I would be paid $3,000 and the other two months of the year I would be paid $4,500.

When creating a budget, what was I supposed to do with these three different amounts: $3250, $3000, and $4500? I started by making a decision:  I do not want to live paycheck to paycheck.  I wanted to create a system that always had me ahead of the game.  I also decided to live off the amount of money I am paid for those 10 months of the year involving two paychecks and was determined to put those additional two paychecks, in their entirety, directly into my savings account.  Saving 10% of my regular monthly salary is great, but I wanted a better security net.

Here’s what I did:

  • Took my lowest monthly income number to create a realistic budget.
  • Used helpful tools such as “Budgeting Basics – How to Get Started” found on Simply Frugal and tracked my expenses to determine what was sustainable.
  • Created an overall budget that allotted every dollar of my two paychecks per month.
  • Determined what money I would need as cash on hand during a month and what I could leave in a separate bank account. For example, grocery money is cash I need to take out of the bank. Gift purchases or dental appointments, while budgeted for, are not necessarily money spent every month. I’ll call these my “planning ahead expenses.”
  • Once the budget was nailed down, I totaled all my “planning ahead expenses” and my savings, then divided those numbers in half. This is what I transfer out of my main chequing account every paycheck into sub-accounts. For example, $20 per month is budgeted for gifts, of which $10 is transferred every paycheck to a “Gifts Account.”
  • Leave the rest of the money needed for cash on hand or for bills directly debited out of my chequing account to build up my monthly float. My monthly float is every dollar that I will spend during the next month.

Through the month as I deposit each paycheck, I transfer out all of my “planning ahead expenses” and let the rest remain to build up for the next month. Because each paycheck that I deposit into my account is not needed for any immediate expenses, I am released from my dependence on it. When I deposit a paycheck, I have no thought of spending it because I know I do not need it for the current month. This freedom is essential because when one of those three paycheck months comes along, I treat the first two checks just like any other normal month by transferring out my “plan aheads” and building up my float. Those two checks set me up for the next month and that third one can go straight into my savings account without a second thought.

Using this system of building up a float is how I stay away from living paycheck to paycheck. I did sacrifice a bit of savings to set myself up in this way, but the benefits are worth it:

  • Eliminated the stress of relying on my next immediate paycheck.
  • An extra month’s cushion of money if I lost my job, in addition to my emergency fund.
  • At the end of every month, I have exactly the amount of money I need in my account to pay my bills and variable expenses for the coming month.

Sticking to this takes planning and discipline, but it is worth it when I see the big jump in savings a couple times a year! It is also worth it to know that being frugal and wise with my money allows me to do something that someone in the financial world thought wasn’t possible.

Do you have a financial success story you’d love to share to help inspire others?  Send your stories to me here.

How to Balance Saving Money & Spending It

Money is meant to be spent, but it’s also meant to be saved. It can be hard to balance saving money and spending it. Use the following tips to get a firm grip on how to use your hard-earned money wisely, while still being able to get enjoyment out of life.

How to Balance Saving Money & Spending It

How to Balance Saving Money & Spending It

Pay yourself first

You will never save up money, if you don’t pay yourself first. If you put all your money towards paying bills and such it will be hard to build up any savings. Create a special account just for you. Be sure that each week a small portion of your check gets deposited into that savings account.

Give yourself an allowance

As an adult, it’s hard to work so hard and only pay bills. Sometimes you want a little spending money. If you’re all caught up on your bills, it’s okay to give yourself an allowance. You don’t need to spend your whole paycheck, but $20-$30 per paycheck is a fair amount to give yourself. Treating yourself to a new gadget, outfit, or even a restaurant, that you rarely make it to, will be a great refresher that you sometimes need. Life isn’t meant to be all work and no play.

Don’t blow your money

Spend your money wisely, don’t just blow it. This is a good way to balance saving money and spending it. Don’t blow your money. In other words, if you have found yourself swooning over an item, go ahead and treat yourself, on occasion. Before splurging, though, ask yourself, “Is this practical?” If the answer is no, then it is best to wait until you find something that you really want, but also have a use for. Buyer’s remorse is no fun. So, when you walk by a New Kids on the Block poster that has you reminiscing over your childhood, be sure to consider your purchase wisely, before jumping the gun right away.

Stick to the budget

A budget allows you to give yourself spending money and to pay your bills. By sticking to the budget, you’re going to do a good job of balancing and saving money. Start out by reassessing your budget, if you already have one. Make sure that your bills are covered, as well as other necessities, like fuel, groceries, and clothing.

Whatever is left of your paycheck can be divided between gifting and saving. Once your budget is finalized, it is important to adhere to it. If your allotted grocery money for the week has been consumed and you then find out that Reese’s peanut butter pumpkins have just hit the shelves, don’t even think about digging into your wallet. Wait until next week, when your grocery budget has reset. Practicing this self-control can be hard, but very rewarding.

Save your money, watch it grow

The more money you save, the more motivating it is to keep saving. Don’t be afraid to save up for something you want. Instead of running out and buying it, you can save up for it. The result is much sweeter, when you save money for something you want, instead of making a spontaneous purchase.

I’d love to know, how do you personally balance saving money and spending it?