Frugal Family 101 — Part I

Is your family new to the frugal lifestyle, and not quite sure where to start?  Here are some simple ways to get everyone on board with cutting back and being more resourceful.

  1. Have a Family Financial Goal —  Having a shared family financial goal is key to your budget’s success.  Post your goal where everyone in the family will see it to be reminded on a daily basis.
  2. Pay Down Debt —  Evaluate how much debt your family has and come up with a plan to pay it down as quickly as possible.  For each credit card that is paid off, treat the family to something simple like homemade ice cream, an afternoon picnic at the park, or a trip to a second-run theatre.
  3. Pay with Cash —  If credit cards are too much of a temptation for your family, cut them up and start paying with cash instead.  Many times we loose track of how much money we are actually spending because using a credit card has become so convenient.  Having to count out dollar bills can be a great reminder of where that money is going.
  4. Cut the Cable —  If you are going to cut back on one thing this year, you could save big bucks just by cutting your cable.  Not only will you save money (about $500/year depending on what channels you have), you will also gain a great deal of freedom from television advertising.  Still unsure about this?  See How to cut your cable without even missing it.
  5. Shop Less Often —  If you usually go grocery shopping once a week, try spreading out your trip to just once every other week.  I do the shopping once a month, but it took awhile to build up to that.  Shopping every other week is definitely do-able, and it will save on gas as well as impulse purchases.
  6. Stop Eating Out —  Eating out should be reserved for special occassions, and not be used as a substitute for poor meal planning.  Just reducing the amount of times your family eats out will help keep your spending in check.
  7. Get to Know the Library —  Your local public library is a tremendous resource for free entertainment.  Try making family trips to the library about once a week and borrow DVDs, CDs, books, and magazines for free.
  8. Borrow from a Friend —  Need a new appliance or gadget?  Maybe a friend can lend it to you for a short period.  Just be sure to return it in the same condition.
  9. Buy Used —  When purchasing anything new, try to get your family into the habit of thinking about whether or not it could be purchased used.  Buying used saves money, and is better for the environment.  Try shopping yard sales, thrift shops, or placing an ad on Craigslist or your local Freecycle group.
  10. Use Coupons & Sale Ads —  Coupons and sale ads can be very useful to help save your family money.  For more information on this, see Advanced Coupon Strategies.
Have another great tip for families just beginning with the frugal lifestyle?  Leave a comment and tell us about it!