There is a big difference between simple frugal living and being cheap. Frugal is buying the generic no-name ketchup. Cheap is when you take home handfuls of ketchup packs from the company barbecue to save for use at home.
Leading a simple frugal life can be a lot of fun too. When the weekly paper arrives with all the new store flyers in it, my wife and I are giddy looking at all the sales that are advertised. WHAT? coffee cream for $1.88. That’s an amazing deal. That’s being frugal.
When you track your spending as I learned from the book ‘I Will Teach You to be Rich’ then you can stay on a realistic plan because you’ve figured out how much your life costs. Month to month you should know what you need to pay for your whole life.
When your being frugal your fun comes from all the money you’re NOT spending. Shouldn’t that be enough to motivate you? We are not talking about deprivation here, we are talking having some fun by not spending extravagantly on life, but search for alternatives and have fun doing it.
You can still have a great time while concentrating on not paying too much for the fun stuff. It all depends on what you consider fun. This is different for everyone. We like to eat out so we look for restaurant deals. We by movies online to watch at home but there are a ton of ways to have free fun and not blow your paycheque.
Some simple frugal living tips to use now:
Find attractions in your own home town
We live close to Toronto and it’s my wife’s hometown so she knows the city very well. Toronto is full of free festivals on every weekend in the summer. We have a lot of fun doing this and the food is fantastic. Outdoor concerts and watching sporting events outside on the big screen are other fun free things we’ve done in Toronto.
In the winter you can skate for free under the lights at city hall and in the summer there are a countless number of beaches to choose from.
My wife and I are both military veterans so we take advantage of discounts at our local military facility which also comes with free skating and swimming. Classes are extra but we get a discount.
Get some fresh air
So many things to do outside. I subscribe to Mr. Money Moustache and you should too. One of the best ideas for living a frugal life according to him is buying a bike and riding it everywhere. Not only do you get in shape but you save money on car payments and gas. He says if you want to own a car buy one 10-15 years old. That’s his idea of frugal. Other things you can get some fresh air doing include:
- going for walks
- hike the free local trails
- camping (I hate camping, it’s an army thing)
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Use your credit card rewards
We pay for everything on our MasterCard and get 3X the points towards groceries because we like to eat. They build up fast. We use them whenever we feel like it and it’s a great way to get free food. The credit card has no yearly fee either.
If you like to travel there are a ton of cards out there that reward you with travel points and that’s great to save you money. You have to be very disciplined if you are going to employ this strategy and make sure you pay off your credit card in full every month.
Go use the library
This is such a great resource for frugal people. You can use their internet connection, read newspapers and take out books and movies. I hope in this internet age, going to the library never goes out of style.
It is also a great resource to find out what local attractions are coming to town. You can have a lot of fun just sitting in the library, it’s a happy escape for me. Also, the washroom is free!
Make email your best friend
I like to sign up on all kinds of email lists that provide me with free information and frugal news. Lots of restaurants and local businesses will send you coupons and discount deals.
Whenever they ask for your email go ahead and give it out, it will save you money later.
Take advantage of sale hours
Just last Saturday there was a midnight madness sale at our local big box retail hardware store. Every hour they would announce another deal that you had to stay for to get. Where I go skiing, it’s almost half the price to ski at night as it is in the daytime. I’m saving $23 a pop just by changing the time I hit the hills.
Most restaurants have cheaper times for a lot of their meals. We also have a cheap movie night where I live. It’s called Cheap Tuesdays where movies are half price. You better get there early. This is a lot of fun and a great way to live the frugal life.
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