In order to be extremely frugal, you will have to get by as cheaply as you can in certain areas. You will have to cut back on luxuries, at least for now. Let’s consider some possible luxuries that you can cut:
1. Eating Out–Eating at home is much cheaper than forking out money at a restaurant. You can feed a whole family for a few dollars with a pot of beans, cornbread, and a side of corn or spinach, for example. Cook in bulk and freeze what you don’t eat for later. Eating out just doesn’t fit in with the frugal lifestyle.
2. Shopping–If you’re shopping just for fun, stop! Only shop for necessities. Buy foods on sale and don’t buy household items that you can do without. Buy necessities at garage sales and thrift shops. Buy used clothing or hold clothing swaps.
3. Vacations–If you’re really wanting or needing to be frugal, you’re going to have to put off vacations. Even a simple vacation will require at least food and gas. While you’re trying to cut expenses, cut vacations, or opt for cheap ones. Enjoy your local parks and lakes. Visit the museum and other free exhibits. Be creative in your “vacationing.”
4. Internet–Visit your local library or coffee shop for internet access to save $20 to $30 per month.
5. Cable TV–Save $20 to $100 per month on cable television. Evaluate your family’s usage. Do you mostly watch movies? If so, cut cable and rent $1.00 movies at Red Boxes or buy them at yard sales.
6. Telephone–Sure, you need a phone to reach the outside world, but do you need both a cell phone and a landline, too? Evaluate your usage to consider which one to eliminate.
7. Gym memberships–Do you use your gym membership regularly? Even if you do, you have cheaper options. Walking and running are free. Live near a lake or pool? Go swimming. In the winter, bring out those cheap weights and exercise videos that you bought at garage sales over the summer.
Preparing a monthly budget helps. Sit down each month to decide what you will spend in each category–food, utilities, clothing, medications, etc . . . . See how much money you will have leftover at the end of the month. Apply that extra money to any debt you have (even paying more on the mortgage principal) or put it in savings.
Look every month at your expenses and brainstorm on how you can cut back even more. In the meantime, also look at different ways to bring in more money.