Final Numbers for November – Saved $694.57

We had a few extra expenses around Thanksgiving so I was really pretty surprised that we were able to stay $75 under our current monthly budget of $300! For the month of November we spent $225.48 to buy $920.05 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 76%! According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $2,388.92 so far this year for $9,947.56 worth of stuff, or 76% off. That equates to an average of $217 per month for our family of seven, or $1.03 a day per person!

Final Numbers for October – Saved $570.15

This was a pretty good month since we were able to stay $97 under our current monthly budget of $300! For the month of October we spent $202.51 to buy $772.66 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 74%! According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $2,163.44 so far this year for $9,027.51 worth of stuff, or 76% off. That equates to an average of $216 per month for our family of seven, or $1.03 a day per person!

Final Numbers for September – Saved $477.27

We’ve had a few unexpected expenses lately like new tires, brakes and rotors for the car so we really cut back everywhere else that we could this month. I’m grateful that we had a stockpile, pantry and freezer full of food so we basically just bought the essentials and the best bargain deals this month and we were able to get by without really feeling the pinch. Of course we’re going to need to make another big meat purchase soon, but we’ll be fine until the next great bulk meat deal comes along. This is actually the cheapest month we’ve had so far this year and we were able to stay $161 under our current monthly budget of $300! For the month of September we spent $138.52 to buy $615.79 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 78%! According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $1,960.93 so far this year for $8,254.85 worth of stuff, or 77% off. That equates to an average of $218 per month for our family of seven, or $1.04 a day per person!

5 Reasons to Live Frugally Even If You Don’t Need To

Scissors  to cut  a dollar

Living frugally doesn’t always have to be a lifelong way of living. Some people choose to keep this lifestyle just until the credit card debt is paid off, or until the mortgage is fully paid. For the meantime, one will clip coupons and bring a packed lunch to work. Of course, while you can return to your old ways once your financial goals have been met, you can also choose to continue living a frugal lifestyle. Here are some reasons you may want to consider doing so:

1) You’ll stay out of debt.

Yes, living frugally allows you to get out of debt—but it also allows you to stay out of debt. Apply the lessons you’ve learned during the process of your debt repayment to build up your savings and continue paying off your bills in a timely manner.

2) You’ll be prepared for emergencies.

Being frugal with your money allows you to build up a decent emergency fund, which will come in handy when your car needs repairing, when your pipes are leaking, or when someone gets sick.

3) You can set aside money for your children.

You may have enough to pay off your bills this year, but how about your child’s tuition, wouldn’t it be great to start preparing for college? What about their first home? Put away money for your children’s future, and maybe even for your grandchildren!

4) You’ll be teaching your children an important lesson.

Living frugally will impart valuable lessons to your children. Don’t allow your children to grow up with an unhealthy attitude about money. Teach them to budget carefully, and to avoid making the mistakes you may have made. Teach them to avoid debt at all costs, and to only pay for things with money they’ve already earned.

5) You’ll have more room to give.

When you’re drowning in money troubles, you’re probably paying very little attention to those around you who may need a helping hand. Now that your finances are back on track, you can be more generous to those less fortunate than you. Even simply giving away product freebies or heavily discounted items you buy with coupons to those in need could really make a difference.

Once you’ve learned to form positive financial habits, maintain them. There’s no reason to go back to the way you used to handle your finances. You may never be completely stress-free when it comes to money matters, but preparing for whatever comes your way will definitely give you a lot more peace of mind.

Photo Credit: iClipart

Final Numbers for August – Saved $630.44

August turned out to be a pretty crazy month with all the back to school activities and purchases, and with our evacuation last week due to Hurricane Isaac. I have to admit that when I did my usual shopping trips a couple of days before the hurricane hit it felt great to have a stockpile already so I could just be doing a normal trip instead of buying a bunch of last minute hurricane supplies like everyone else. Since we were able to stretch out our back to school purchases over the past year, starting with last year’s clearance sales, we were able to stay nearly $79 under our current monthly budget of $300! For the month of August we spent $221.03 to buy $851.47 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 75%! According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $1,822.41 so far this year for $7,639.06 worth of stuff, or 77% off. That equates to an average of $228 per month for our family of seven, or $1.08 a day per person!

7 Ways to Teach Your Family About Frugality

7 Ways to Teach Your Family About FrugalityWith a little time and practice, you can learn to incorporate various frugal tips, tricks and methods in your daily routine. One way to make frugal habits more permanent, however, is by getting the whole family on board. Here are some ways you can practice frugality as an entire family:

1) Be united.

It’s important that both parents are on the same page when it comes to frugality. It’s hard for children to take frugality seriously if one parent constantly makes fun of the other parent for being too tightfisted.

2) Create a set of family rules on frugality.

Different families practice frugality in various ways. As a family, discuss your financial goals (such as paying off the mortgage or saving up for a family vacation), and identify frugal practices and rules you can all follow to help you reach these goals. List the rules and post them in the kitchen or some other place where the entire family can see them on a regular basis.

3) Teach early on.

Frugality isn’t something that only adults can practice. Involve the young ones in your frugal lessons, as well. You can teach your toddlers little things such as turning off the lights and the TV when they leave a room.

4) Clip coupons together.

When your young children are old enough to use scissors and understand the basics of coupons, ask them to help you clip coupons for your weekly trip to the grocery store. If you have older kids who may not enjoy clipping coupons, teach them about bargain hunting, instead. Ask them to go through the sales and coupons to see if any of their favorite items are on discount. Tell them you can purchase one or two items for them if they are within a certain budget.

5) Take them shopping with you.

Occasionally ask your children to go with you to the mall or grocery store. You can use this time to teach your children about making smart, penny-wise decisions and show them how to compare prices and study an item’s quality versus its price.

6) Keep a cheerful disposition.

It’s important to maintain a cheerful, optimistic attitude towards frugality. If your children constantly hear you complaining about your difficulties with living frugally, then they will likely follow your example.

7) Demonstrate how to take care of your belongings.

Take the time to teach your children about being practical. Let them watch you mend clothing, remove stains on the sofa, or even repair broken toys or appliances. Show them that you take good care of your belongings, and they’ll learn to do the same with their things.

Keep in mind that transitioning to a frugal lifestyle can be a lot of hard work. Remember to occasionally reward yourself and your family for your efforts. Go out for some pizza or head to the movie theater to watch a film of their choice. Treating your family every now and then will help keep a cheerful attitude about frugality at home!

Photo Credit: iClipart

Final Numbers for July – Saved $506.29

Although we didn’t go over our current monthly budget of $300, we did come pretty close this month! I made a bunch of back to school purchases including backpacks for all five kids so I think it’s terrific that we came in under budget at all. We do have a few more things to get before school start in a couple weeks, but there isn’t much left on that list so I’m hoping that we come in way under budget in August so I can go over budget during the fall holiday months without worry. For the month of July we spent $290.26 to buy $796.55 worth of groceries, toiletries, and cleaning supplies, or a savings of 64%! According to the spreadsheet we’ve spent $1,601.38 so far this year for $6,787.59 worth of stuff, or 77% off. That equates to an average of $229 per month for our family of seven, or $1.09 a day per person!

7 Home Maintenance Tips to Prevent Costly Repair Bills

7 Home Maintenance Tips to Prevent Costly Repair Bills

Repair bills can be extremely tough to deal with – especially if you’re already running low on contingency funds. One way to avoid these pricey incidentals is by making preventive home maintenance a habit.  Here are some great ways to keep your house (and its contents) in great shape:

1) Repair your roof.

A small roof leak may not seem like much to worry about, but it can easily and quickly lead to larger problems such as mold and structural damage. Tackle roof leaks as soon as you see them to avoid damage to your wallet and to your personal property.

2) Clean your downspouts and gutters.

Make it a point to clean your downspouts and gutters at least twice a year, depending on the number of trees near or on your property. Clogged downspouts and gutters often cause interior water damage. Do what you can to keep water from flooding your home!

3) Sweep the chimney.

Hire a professional to sweep your chimney once a year. It’s extremely important that you keep your chimney free of bird nests, creosote and other flammables.

4) Replace air conditioner, air and furnace filters.

Regularly change your filters to ensure that it is not clogged up with dust and dirt. Changing it every month or so will make your air conditioner and furnace run smoothly and efficiently!

5) Drain your water line.

When the seasons change, be wary of the water in your water line – especially in all outside faucets. Turn off the water, drain your water line and let all the excess water out. Temperatures that are below freezing may cause water to solidify, damaging your plumbing and possibly causing flooding.

6) Check your driveway for cracks.

If your driveway is made of asphalt, remember to closely inspect it at least once a year. You can easily fill cracks that are approximately ½ inch in width or less, then apply a seal coat to finish off the job. Wider cracks can cause structural damage to your driveway, and can result in an extremely expensive repair bill later on.

7) Have the septic tank cleaned.

Frequently check your septic tank’s sludge level. Call a professional to clean out the septic tank when it is approximately ½ to ¾ full. Postponing this task may just leave you with a mess you do not want to deal with. To extend the time between cleanings use a septic tank treatment like Rid-X.

Make it a point to jot write these tasks down on your calendar. This way, you’ll remember to take care of them at the right time. You’ll save a lot of time and money by addressing small problems before they turn into big ones. With a little preventive maintenance, you’ll be able to save even more money, time and effort!

Photo Credit: iClipart

6 Ways to Avoid Frugal Burnout

6 Ways to Avoid Frugal Burnout

Staying focused on your financial goals can be extremely difficult, especially if everyone around you seems to be spending like money grows on trees.  If you feel like your motivation to live frugally is dwindling, don’t throw in the towel just yet. Try some of these tips to keep yourself from experiencing frugal burnout:

1) Create a financial goal that will motivate you.

Do you have reason to scrimp and save? Create a goal that will excite you! Pay off a credit card debt, build an emergency fund or save for a family vacation. If it helps to create visual charts, tables or other records of your progress, then by all means, go for it!

2) Take small steps.

There are hundreds of tips out there to living frugally, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow them all at once. Make a list of tips and tricks that will work best for you and your lifestyle, and start focusing on those first.

3) Be organized.

If you’re a coupon cutter, then you probably already know how much work it is to prepare for a trip to the grocery store. Don’t let your coupons stack up. Set aside a particular day and time for organizing your coupons each week.  Also, don’t think you have to clip them all – check out these organization tips to stay on top of your coupons.

4) Keep good company.

Instead of hanging out with big spenders, try surrounding yourself with people who have good spending habits. You can also visit various frugal blogs regularly. Keeping good company will help you feel encouraged and inspired to stick with the program.

5) Don’t do things that don’t work for you.

Do you absolutely detest shopping and haggling at yard sales and flea markets? Do you hate growing your own vegetables? Then don’t do it! There are plenty of other ways to save money.

6) Don’t deprive yourself completely.

Give yourself a break and treat yourself to something every now and then. Don’t keep your budget so tight that you feel deprived of anything and everything fun. If possible, allocate a small portion of your weekly or monthly budget money for little treats and sudden sales. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the occasional pizza, DVD, or even a new shirt on sale.

Sometimes, living frugally is easy. Other times, it is not. The next time you feel overwhelmed, stressed or frustrated by your tight budget, you need to remind yourself that frugal living is a constant process and that it’s okay to mess up. Give yourself room to make mistakes, then pick yourself up and try again.

Photo Credit: iClipart

6 Smart Ways to Trim Your Wedding Budget

If you are ready to tie the knot but are on a very limited wedding budget, then don’t worry. Being on a limited budget doesn’t mean that you and your groom can’t have a beautiful celebration.  Here are some great ways to trim down your wedding budget without sacrificing the wedding of your dreams:

1) Get married during an off-peak month.

The summer months are extremely popular for weddings because of the perfect weather for outdoor ceremonies. Getting married during this time of the year means higher quotes from vendors and you’ll have to adjust to their availability as well. One way to trim down your wedding budget is by choosing to hold your wedding during an off-peak time of the year. You’ll not only get better rates, but you’ll have a lot more options to choose from, too!

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