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Sunday, August 28, 2011

My Underlying Frugal Rules

I've gotten some comments from people that "this post is nice, but it isn't relevant to me for whatever reason". I can see that happening in many cases, because frugality is individual. What may be frugal for one person might be a waste of money for someone else, and visa versa. While individual frugal ideas may be more personal than others (I wouldn't necessarily call buying a netbook a frugal move for everyone, but in my case it was as it didn't blow our budget, and my computer needed replacing, and I need a functional computer for work. For other people spending money on a netbook can be a true money waste.), the basic underlying rules governing how someone spends and lives there life are more universal.

What are these underlying rules that I try to live by? The rules are the bolded, examples of the rules are the bulleted below.


Spend Wisely.
  • Don't spend money you don't have. That means if you don't currently have the amount in your bank to pay for something, don't purchase it, assuming you'll get the money with your next paycheck. If you don't have it now, don't spend it now. It can wait. 
  • Budget your money. 
  • Live beneath your means. This will allow you to save for a rainy day/emergency/the future. 
  • Just because you “can afford something” right now, doesn't mean that you should spend that money. You may need that money for something important in the future and not have the money to pay for it. 
  • Think twice or three times before spending your money, making sure that what you buy is something worth the money you're paying. You don't want to have any regrets in the future, so make sure you're spending in areas that are important to you, and aren't just impulse buys.
  •  When you buy things, know how much you're paying for it, including unit prices, and make sure you're paying the least you can for it (factoring in traveling costs and time off work to travel to further places where things are cheaper). 

Stick To Needs.
  • Just because others are saying that something is a need doesn't really mean it is. 
  • Think really hard to decide what you truly, truly need, and spend money first on that, and only on extras when there is extra money available. 
  • Lower your expectations of what is normal. 
  • Forget about keeping up with the Jones. The Jones aren't paying your bills. 

Use Free Resources As Much As Possible. 
  • Why pay for something when you can get for free. 
  • Dumpster dive and find trash treasures. 
  • Forage for wild edibles. 
  • Use hand me down clothing, furniture, books, toys, and everything else imaginable. 
  • Use Natural Resources.
    • Cook in the sun.
    • Collect rainwater from your gutters in rain barrels to use for your garden or any other use aside for drinking. 
    • Solar heat your home and your water with solar panels, if available. 
    • Dehydrate your food in the sun.
    • Line dry your laundry instead of using the dryer. 
    • Grow a vegetable garden. Heat your home with firewood. 

Make What You Have, Last.
  • Use your perishable foods first, and leave the less perishable items for later on. 
  • Freeze, can, or dehydrate your perishable foods if you get them in large quantities so they don't spoil. 
  • Peruse your refrigerator regularly to ensure nothing gets forgotten and then spoils. 
  • Keep your clothes in good shape by avoiding stains and removing them, repairing your clothing, and laundering them in a way that is gentle on the fabric. 
  • When you have a temperature you like, retain it via insulating, whether this is insulating your food to keep it warm so it doesn't need reheating, insulating your home to keep out heat or a breeze (depending on the season), and dressing warmly in the winter to insulate your own body heat. 

Do It Yourself As Much As Possible. 
  • Why pay someone to do something that you can easily do yourself? 
  • Clean your own home instead of hiring cleaning help. 
  • Make your own basic repairs instead of hiring a handy man (the internet has many good tutorials for all sorts of basic fix it jobs).
  • Make your food from scratch instead of buying things prepackaged or buying takeout
  • Homeschool your kids instead of sending them to expensive private schools if public schools are non options for you. 

Enjoy Life. 
  • Not all fun things cost money. Focus on doing enjoyable things on a regular basis that do not break the bank. 
  • Make sure to budget in a few splurges that mean a lot to you, so that you don't feel deprived. Try to stick with more frugal splurges, if possible, but if you need a more expensive splurge, find ways to cut back so that you can afford what is important to you. 
  • Don't compare your life to others; try to focus on all the blessings and abundance you have in your own life instead of what you wish you had but can't afford. Choose to be happy; happiness is a choice someone makes, not a result of what is going on in your life. 

Of course, being frugal is much more extensive than all that, and everyone has different areas they may choose to focus on in their frugality, but these are the basic guidelines I try to live by. They may not work for everyone, but for me, following these basic principles is how I manage to live my life on a very tight budget, and still live a very fulfilling life.

What guiding principles do you use to govern how you spend your money in terms of frugality?
Do you agree with all the basic rules I wrote? If not, which do you disagree with? 
Which rules would you add that you think are missing from this post?

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