I want to offer some smart frugal balanced living tips to those who have embraced Frugal Living and are saving for early retirement, trying to pay off all their debt, are already retired, or to anyone interested in some money-saving ideas to get to where they strive to be.
The idea is to make cuts that are sustainable over the long-term. You don’t have to stop doing everything you enjoy.
For example, say you enjoy going out to dinner and a movie every week. If the average cost is $60, think instead about cutting back to every other Friday night and then making a point of getting a DVD from the Library or Redbox for the other Fridays.
Doing that would cut your Dinner and Movie budget in half. That extra $120 a month would be $1440 a year that could be invested or used to pay down debt.
Taking steps like that is the reward of frugal living. Find YOUR smart-frugal and balanced lifestyle.
Let me share a little secret with you. Sometimes we do things out of habit that we think brings us real happiness. Once you scale back or stop doing some of those things that add costs to your lifestyle you might see that it really didn’t bring that much real happiness to your life after all and you don’t even miss it.
Here are 8 smart frugal balanced living tips and ideas
First you must address the essentials of living. When you engage in frugal living your focus is on saving and investing which may overshadow other important areas of your life. If you take your time and really think things through you will find that there are smart frugal living solutions to apply for each of these “essentials” listed below:
Frugal Tips #1: Home –
Obtain the lowest rent or mortgage interest rate possible. Make smart frugal living trade-offs whether it is location, size, or energy efficiency.
Frugal Tips #2: Utilities –
Part of this “essential” is utilities which is another place where you may be able to control a few things. Be careful about watering by only watering enough needed to keep the lawn green. People get used to setting their programmable sprinkling system and let it run even after or during a rain storm. Be more proactive and alter or suspend the irrigation cycle. It saves money on the summer water bill.
Spread lawn mowing out to keep the lawn longer to conserve water. Consider only mowing every 10 to 12 days or when it is too long depending on rainfall in your area.
Remember all the basic conservation stuff the utilities tell everyone. Adding insulation, even the programmable thermostat you can find with a little hunting for $20 saves money. In the winter set the thermostat for 63 degrees at night (or cooler to preference) when you are asleep and have it bump up to 68 degrees at 7:00 am until 9:00 when you are dressed and moving around. Then have it drop down to 66 until 6:00 pm when you are less active again. Do the same for summer cooling if you use a central air conditioner. Set it to comfort for when you are home, not out and away.
When it is hot outside we find 78 degrees as our in-house comfort temp but if we are doing anything like vacuuming or other things with a lot of moving around we drop if few degrees more until we have finished. In the evening turn the air conditioning off and open some windows to let the cool air in if you live in such an area.
Most thermostats allow you to manually run the furnace fan. This will circulate air though the house. If you have a basement with cold air returns then you can save money this way by pulling in that cooler basement air and your air conditioner will cycle less times on hot days.
If you live in a low humidity area then consider using a swamp cooler. They cool with very low-cost. LED and Fluorescent bulbs save on your power and it all adds up.
This is just a quick list of ideas to think about and do over time to add cost savings to your home life.
Frugal Tips #3: Health –
Maintaining good health is essential to a happy life. Nothing will drain your savings and your soul like bad health. Get off your butt and get active. Movement is key to a healthy lifestyle. Walking costs nothing. Eat fresh foods and limit processed foods.
When purchasing health insurance, carefully look at the monthly rate but also the deductible, co-pays, and medication coverage. If you have maintenance medication that you must take your insurance choice may be different from someone who doesn’t. Don’t go frugal on a monthly rate only to pay out of your nose for the other things you have to use.
When possible and safe, group your Dr. visits together to limit copays. As an example I needed to go in to get my prescriptions renewed. I also had a mole I wanted looked at and possibly removed. So when I made my appointment and was asked what I wanted to see the Dr. for I told them both things so they could set aside the proper amount of time for him. I ended up paying a single copay that covered seeing the Dr. and the blood draw for lab work.
Another tip is when your Dr. recommends a procedure or tests. Ask questions and bring up costs. When it was advised I needed a colonoscopy because of my big 50th birthday there were a couple of options. One was having it done at the nearby hospital and the other was at a clinic specializing in gastric intestinal care just a few miles further away. I chose the clinic as it was less expensive to me and they had a very high rating. The care was just as good.
Frugal Tips #4: Food / Grocery –
When it comes to saving money at the grocery store the first rule of savings is NEVER SHOP HUNGRY. But other than that it is all about sales, discounts, and store placement.
Take full advantage of coupons and store promotions. Seek out the discounted items. If you shop and plan on consuming the fresh food soon, look for the discounted items that are days from expiring. There seems to always be bread or meat that the store is drastically discounting and it is still good.
Also notice the middle of the store has all the processed and preserved foods while the outside walls and areas have the fresh and refrigerated foods. Stay to the outside as much as you can.
Food is one “essential” in your budget you actually have control over and can save a lot of money.
Home cooked is always cheaper than eating out. As an example, 2 steaks, baked potatoes and salads are at least 50% cheaper at home than even going to Sizzler with a coupon.
Eat what is in season –
It is healthy, tastier, and cheaper based on supply and demand.
A chest freezer can further your smart frugal dollars. Buy meat when it is on sale and buy veggies when they are in season and freeze them for later. You can also freeze a lot of your garden produce.
My friend’s wife is quite the chef and uses a lot of their garden grown food for her masterpieces. The green tomatoes picked before it frosts get quartered and frozen for Chile Verde. She will make batches of spaghetti sauce when the tomatoes are all ripe and freeze it in quart sized ziplock bags. When the grocery stores or farm stands put the Anaheim peppers on sale they roast and freeze them in ziplock bags of 4.
When they put the white corn on for 6 / $1 (not the last 2 years 4/$1 is as good as it gets) they blanch the corn, cut it off the ears and freeze it in 1 meal portions. It tastes fantastic in the winter.
Small gardens, even potted ones with fresh herbs are cheap and add immensely to the flavor. Roast chicken with fresh sage under the skin. For your salad add fresh snap peas and fresh basil to it. Chives are easy to grow and are fantastic on your baked potato.
Frugal Tips #5: Transportation –
From gas mileage to insurance, choose your auto or autos carefully. Do your research and buy reliable and functional autos. If you are able, drop from a 2 car household to a one car household.
Utilize mass transit and when you buy a car, weigh new vs. slightly used autos. Sometimes the used cost is so close to new that it is a tough decision. It is all timing and whether dealers are offering killer incentives.
Once you have a car, maintain it and make it last. I have driven my primary auto, a mini truck, since 1993. Sure I have had to make repairs and rebuild a few things but I have enjoyed this work horse and fun driving little truck (now convertible hot rod) for over 20 years. I paid $1300 for it back then.
Once a year do some insurance price comparisons. Many times by changing your insurance provider you can save money. The insurance industry is always changing their price plans. However they typically don’t call their existing customers up and offer the new deals. They are happy to accept your continued higher monthly payment.
Whenever possible do what is called Trip Chaining. Do all of your shopping and errands in one trip pre-plotted to cut mileage and save on your time and gas cost. Carry cooler bags to keep food cool if you are stopping on the way home.
Frugal Tips #6: Clothing –
For us it is all sales and coupons here too. We also buy clothes out of season. When they are moving their winter clothes out to make room for their spring displays we snag some great deals. We then store them until next year. I know many who have scored-big shopping at Good Will or other second-hand discount stores. We haven’t been shopping “used” for a while but it is something that we would openly consider doing again to make the numbers meet if that is what it takes.
Taking care of the “essentials” with a smart-frugal focus allows us to target other things that can be looked at for smart frugal thinking. This is a page that may get updates from time to time as I find new ways to save money on things or my readers offer some great suggestions.
Frugal Tips #7: Telephone –
There are many options to consider based on what your needs are. I know people paying more for their phone plans than I do for power, gas, and water utilities combined. Just take a close assessment and see if your telephone strategy is the most economical. There are 3 general telephone options: Land-Line, Wireless (cell), and VoIP.
Land Line is in decline but a lot of people still have one whether they really need it or use it. Most have a Flat-Rate line with unlimited local calling and incoming calls. They may or may not have long-distance (toll) calling plans associated to them. If you have small children or someone in the household with health issues the land-line is a safety consideration. When you call 911 they know right where you are as the phone is tied to a physical address.
If you live in an area where storms take out power or you just have a lot of power outages, the land-line is powered by the telephone company and they have battery back-up and large diesel generators to keep service going. Even if you have a full charge on your cell phone the cell tower you are served from may not and you can experience no service conditions.
If you feel you need a land-line but don’t spend a lot of time on the phone ask your telephone provider about their Measured Service plan details and cost. These allow either a set amount of calls per month or a set amount of minutes at a reduced cost to the flat-rate unlimited land-line. Most companies will not openly offer these plans if they have them so you need to ask. This way you can have a land-line at a lower cost and use your cell for all of your other calling. Also look at bundle discounts available if you buy your internet broadband from the same company.
Cell phones are definitely a must-have. Take a hard look at your calling and data needs. There are so many plans and providers out there and they change daily as they compete against each other. I don’t spend a lot of time talking on my cell so I have a pay as you go Verizon voice plan. It costs me 25 cents a minute for voice and 20 cents per text and I can deposit $100 once yearly. I never use the full $100 when the year is up and I carry forward extra minutes each year.
I’ve met people who use a Walmart (Straight Talk) smart phone data and voice plan and swear by it. I have read excellent reviews of a wireless company no one has heard of called Republic Wireless. These reviews are from young retirees who use voice and data and they say you can’t beat this company’s service or prices. Look around and you can find ways to save.
Voice over IP is a possibility if you have internet broadband at your home. Especially cost-effective if you are calling international. These plans are fairly inexpensive. Vonage is the big-dog but your telephone, internet, or cable provider will also have VoIP service to offer. Like wireless, if the power goes you may find yourself without phone service.
Frugal Tips #8: Coupons and Promotional Codes
You don’t have to subscribe to the local newspaper to get all those Sunday coupons.
There are coupons on the web that can be found with little effort. Check out my Coupon and Promotion Code web sites page for a list including links to 10 websites you want to get to know. There are all kinds of sites that provide discounts for the very things you are going to purchase.
More Frugal Living Tips
Cutting Non-Essential Living Costs
Frugal Living still allows for us to have other lifestyle costs outside what is essential for us to live. I have some other money-saving ideas and frugal tips for non-essential living costs on my Frugal Living Saves Money Creates Wealth page covering TVs and Appliances, Online Purchases, Entertainment (cut the cord), and Broadband/Internet.
Many times we are just too busy and don’t stop to think if we could save money doing what we are doing. I am a Leisure Freak always trying to look at things outside of the box and I even fall into this situation and then later realize I may have over spent.
Frugal Living while exercising a smart frugal balanced life approach is a lucrative choice and path to take regardless of income level.
I am sorry this page is so long but I hope I gave you some ideas with these smart frugal balanced living tips. Now go find your frugal living threshold and meet all of your goals.
Final money-saving tip – Use Cleanprint to print only what you need thus saving paper, ink and the planet.