Learning to live frugally is the key to getting your finances under control and paying off debt. Frugal living isn’t just about creating and sticking to a budget; rather, frugality is about prioritizing your spending so that you can pay off debt faster and enjoy a more comfortable lifestyle. Below are some frugal habits that anyone can incorporate into their financial plan.
Leave the Cards at Home
Shopping with cash prevents you from spending more money than you actually have. You’re also more likely to stay within your budget if you don’t have your credit and debit cards with you. Studies show that people who shop with cash spend 12 to 18 percent less than people who shop with debit or credit cards. It can be difficult to pay for everything in cash, but adopting a “cash only” policy will keep you aware of how much money you have; if you can’t afford something, you simply don’t buy it. Try to maintain a cash-based budget until you have your finances under control. To learn more about responsible credit card use, read this.
Americans spend an average of $8,976 annually to own and operate a car that drives 15,000 miles per year, according to a 2014 AAA study. If you’re not ready to ditch the car altogether, consider walking, biking, or taking the bus a few days a week. Another way to save money on driving costs is to shop around for lower insurance rates. Some companies offer a pay-per-mile plan that can significantly lower your car insurance payment. If your family has two cars, trading one or both of them in for something more fuel efficient can cut your transportation costs by hundreds of dollars per year.
Adjust Your Thermostat
Turning your thermostat down a few degrees may be a little uncomfortable at first, but your body will quickly adjust to the change and your finances will thank you. You can save even more money by installing a programmable thermostat, which allows you to set a lower temperature for times when you’re sleeping and away from home.
Pack a Lunch
Studies show that packing your own lunch can save you up to $1,800 per year. Instead of buying a lunch and stopping at the drive-thru for your morning coffee, pack your own lunch and make your own coffee at home.
Get a Library Card
You can borrow the latest books, magazines, CDs, and DVDs from your local library. Cancel your magazine and Netflix subscriptions and sign up for a library card instead. If you borrow a book or a CD that you end up not liking, at least you won’t have spent your money on something you’ll never read or listen to again.
To live frugally, you need to keep one simple principle in mind: spend less than you earn. The above tips will help you cut unnecessary spending from different areas of your life so that you can repay your debt faster and enjoy a more financially secure future.