Stick to your budget! 15 tips to Fun Frugal Living

It’s not how much you make, but what you do with what you've got. Proper money management does not involve a magic formula to find more money. It simply means getting the most from the money you do have.

  1. Simplicity. Ain’t nobody got time for spreadsheets, Excel or other software programs, So we’ve carefully created a budget printable for you!

  2. Have a goal. Whatever your goal may be – a home purchase, a remodeling project, an exotic vacation – it can help you find the discipline you need to squirrel away money by a certain deadline. Reflect on a goal you truly want to meet and resolve to do it.

  3. Separate fixed and discretionary spending. Divvy up your fixed expenses, such as your rent or mortgage payment, utilities and car insurance, from your discretionary expenses. To arrive at real tallies, analyze your credit card and checking account statements carefully.

  4. Give yourself a buffer. What’s the most you ever spent on your utility bill? Build that highest number into your monthly budget. Also build in set amounts for emergencies and for “mad money” you can spend any way you want. With those contingencies covered, you’ll feel more comfortable investing a designated amount monthly – something everybody should do in some way, shape or form on a regular basis, even if the investment allotment is small.

  5. Anticipate your expenses. At the beginning of the month, try predicting all your expenses for the next 30 days. Then you can make real-time adjustments as needed by shifting money from one category to another.

  6. Billing cycles can be changed. If your budgeting process reveals that you’re getting hit with one bill right after another, you can ask to change your billing cycles to space out the due dates. Most creditors are willing to make such adjustments.

  7. Plan Your Meals. One of the greatest downfalls of even the most frugal family is an impromptu trip to McDonald’s in lieu of dinner. Instead of serving up a healthy meal for under $2 a serving, you end up splurging – on calories and money – to feed your family, making it an automatic budget buster. By taking the time to plan your family’s meals, you remove the excuse of not knowing what’s for dinner. Plan one week at a time. To help plan your meals, use our free meal planner! (see meal planner)

  8. Shop Smart. You don’t have to be a hardcore couponer to save money on groceries. Instead, smart strategies can relieve pressure at the store so you don’t overspend. It’s imperative that you only shop once and get everything you need in one trip. Heading to the store for a forgotten gallon of milk or an extra loaf of bread can cause you to repeatedly overspend all week long. I also like to shop without the kids. When my little ones are with me, it’s harder to stay focused and resist spontaneous purchases – especially when they’re begging for them.

  9. Be Energy Smart. You’ve probably heard it a million times: Save energy and you save money. Of course, not every family has the means or the know-how to install a new low-flow toilet or a tankless water heater. Still, you can make saving simple by conserving energy the old-fashioned way: Turning off lights, timing showers, or taking baths can all help to lower utility bills, while teaching your kids an important lesson about energy conservation. While you might find yourself nagging from time to time, conserving energy eventually becomes habitual for everyone.

  10. Create a stockpile, but don’t get crazy. You probably don’t need 50 bottles of laundry detergent, but always having a backup on hand will save you from dashing to the store for a full-price replacement when you run out. As you notice sales, replenish your stock.

  11. Couponing: The struggle is real. Coupons are often for sugar-filled processed foods; saving money on produce can be tougher. A lot of companies don’t advertise. But if you call and ask, the companies will send you coupons!

  12. Grow lots of your own food. If you have a black thumb or live in a city then practice on one or two plants or window herbs before you go all out.

  13. Reuse bags. At most stores you get $.05 off per reusable bag. Not much, but it’s a nice bonus for avoiding the plastic bags of doom.

  14. When it’s hot. In the summer, when its sorta hot, but not really… dress in light, flowy clothing and take short cool-off showers throughout/or at the end of the day. Apply peppermint essential oil to your chest and the back of your neck. Turns out you can survive without an air conditioner.

  15. Family night out? Use the library. It’s free. And awesome.