It seems that almost everywhere I turn these days there are articles and stories about saving money and extending tight budgets. Generally these articles make it seem like frugality requires some sort of advanced degree. I suppose it’s a sign of the times, everyone is looking to trim their expenses in some way or another. It occurs to me that frugality isn’t about complicated schemes or detailed plans as much as it is about common sense and simple steps. You may already know and use these tips, but just in case you don’t let me share a few of my favorite common sense tips.
- Growing up my parents and grandparents were always telling us to turn off lights, shut refrigerator doors, etc. because we didn’t own stock in the electric company. These days I belong to an electric co-op so in a sense I do own stock in the electric company, but I still turn off lights, use the clothesline instead of the dryer and turn off power strips to keep my electric bill down.
- Combine trips when driving somewhere. If I have to run errands I try to combine it with my workday commute, this way I don’t have to drive at all on days off – saving money on fuel and auto maintainance.
- Reconcile your checking account – I’m constantly amazed by folks who don’t do this and face overdraft fees on a monthly basis.
- Don’t waste anything. Use up leftovers or fresh produce, don’t let either mold or rot in your refrigerator or pantry. Re-use old clothing for cleaning rags. Re-use jars or other containers for a multitude of uses.
- Beware of memberships that include automatic renewals and cancel subscriptions you don’t use. If you’re not going to the gym, why continue to pay for it. If you’re heating with wood, why are you paying for natural gas too? If you just want to try something new, go for it, just make sure they don’t automatically debit your checking account or charge your credit card after the trial period if you don’t want to continue.
- Buy Second Hand – I’m constantly amazed by how many people think this is a hassle, but you’d be amazed at the quality of many second hand items and the money you can save over new. Try it out – nothing ventured, nothing gained.
So what your favorite common-sense frugal tip? I know I’ve missed some good ones that are worth sharing.