Here’s an easy three-point plan to start down the frugal path.
App it: There are smart phone applications that allow you to track every penny you spend, every day. They categorize your spending and then spit out a daily, weekly and monthly total. This can be enlightening, if you follow it to the letter ... meaning, you need to jot down even the 75-cent toll or the $2.50 latte. If you do, you might be shocked at where you’re spending your money. If you don’t have a smart phone, a cheap and small notebook that you can carry in your pocket will work just as well. If you track your expenses you will probably end up a little sick to your stomach when the month is up. Try it and see.
The $10 rule: Set a new rule today that before you can buy anything that is over $10, you need to stop and ask yourself two questions: 1. Can I live without this? And 2. Is it at all possible that I can wait a week to get this? If the answer to either question is “yes,” then do not purchase it and walk away. It’s annoying. But eventually you’ll start realizing that dollars and cents have more worth than you’ve treated them in the past.
Bucket it: At the end of every day, sit down and fill out your money app or notebook and think back to how many times you were about to spend over $10. Then figure out how much you were going to spend and take that amount out of your wallet, via hard cash or a check written out to yourself and then drop it in a bucket. Close the lid of the bucket and walk away.
Do these three simple steps for one month and this is what will happen:
You’ll be much more aware of how much things costs, where you’re spending a disgusting amount of money and where you can find cheaper alternatives.
You’ll understand the value of time; it’s really not a big deal to wait a month for something you think you want or need now. There’s a reason why delayed gratification is so popular.
When you open that bucket and count the checks and cash, you’ll be blown away. Consider taking half of it and put it into a savings account and take the other half and spend it. You deserve it, and these are baby steps. Next month, put the whole dollar amount in savings.