One of the most frequently asked question on our Frugal Mom Message Board is, “How do I start living a frugal life?” There are lots of practical things you can do to cut back on expenses and lower your spending. But in order to become successful at frugal living, you must first change your thinking. So how do you get a frugal state of mind?
1. Determine why you want to live a frugal life
When you take time to think through why you are taking the step towards frugal living, your reason becomes your determination. Write a sentence or two on why you want to live a frugal life, and put it somewhere accessible. Reread it when times get hard, or when you are tempted to splurge, or when you see yourself creeping back to your old spending habits. It will give you the willpower and resolve to stick to your plan.
2. Learn to identify the difference between needs and wants
When making my transition to frugal living, this was one of the most difficult areas for me. But once I paid attention to what I was spending money on, our financial situation improved dramatically. This simple concept, when taken seriously, can transform your spending habits. You must look at the things you spend money on each month and determine which are needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) and which are wants (soda, a cute pair of shoes to add to your collection of shoes, an RV, cable TV). This will become important when you put together your budget.
3. Set goals for yourself & family
When you set attainable goals, you will be able to see your progress, and your progress will encourage you to stick with it. Set short term goals (monthly, quarterly), and set long term goals (1 year, 5 years, 10 years), and don’t forget to track your progress.
4. Put together a budget
A budget is a necessary tool for getting a hold on your finances. It is invaluable because it forces you to look at your spending, and the numbers never lie. Here is a Monthly Family Budget Form you can download. masterfamilybudget It is an Excel spreadsheet. If you do not have Excel, you can use Google Documents to use it.
5. Involve your family
It is recommended that husbands and wives plan the family budget together. By becoming a team you will both be aware of what your goals are, and you can support each other. For the best results, everyone in the family must make a commitment to frugal living, and sticking to the budget.