What does it mean to 'live within your means'? For starters, it means that you care more about how you feel than what someone else thinks. It is very hard not to give into social pressures. We have all been out to dinner with the big spender, or see the new Escalade Mr Jones drives. While we might quietly sit back and wish we had that fine automobile; many of us would drown in the sea of debt associated with it. These tips will keep you focused on living frugally in the face of all things 'bigger and better'.
Stop eating out to reduce your expenses!
I know you work hard. I know it's only a treat once a week. I also know that that treat can cost you $1,820.00 yearly. Instead invite your friends and eat in. Dinner parties build relationships. Invite a few of your friends (who cook well) to share in a weekly potluck meal. I guarantee you will enjoy the company (assuming you like your friends.) Rotate homes using a weekly schedule so that you share the work and experience a different atmosphere. We all like to go out to eat, but a salad that will feed 8 is roughly $6.00. Compare that cost to a dinner for two at $35.00 and you will see why this is a good idea.
Hurry up and wait!
Adopt the 'hurry up and wait' rule. Sometimes we want something; really bad. Often, when we buy it, we feel guilty knowing that the interest is quickly eating up any value the product had. A quick solution to eliminate waste spending is to hurry up.. and wait. If you want a product, you think you can't live without, wait five days to buy it. If you still want it, after five days, then go ahead. Waiting, and putting distance between yourself and the item gives your rational mind a chance to kick in. After five days you will either convince yourself that you can't live without "it", or you will have rationalized that it wasn't worth the money.
Do not use a shopping cart.
When you enter a store for one item you do not need a cart in most cases. Big chain super markets, and department stores provide a cart to customers for a reason. They want you to fill them up! If you don't have a cart and must carry the purchases through the store you will stop picking up the items you don't need. If you don't, you may end up with back problems. There is a reason that "sale" or "discount" items are placed right near the checkout where you can see them. Store managers are aware of human nature. They know that we are attracted by streamers, and balloons, and anything that remotely resembles a party. We stop, and we look, however; if your hands are already full you can't pick up anything else. No this does not mean you are allowed to hold merchandise in your teeth.
Plan to go to the sales.
This is not an invitation to accrue more debt. Shop only at the end of season sales. When you buy your seasonal clothes, out of season, you will get the best deals. This same rule applies to seasonal items. Decorations for holidays, gardening and lawn supplies, or any item that you can only get a certain time of year, fall into the seasonal category. If you are shopping for school children clean up on school supplies, new shoes and the rest AFTER the 'back to school' sales.
Eat before going to the grocery store.
Shoppers make a huge mistake going into a grocery store hungry. The best laid plans are always forgotten when you haven't eat and you see all that food. Many stores may even tempt you with fresh deli items and aromas wafting up from the deep fryers. Eating a snack before you go to the grocery store to shop will keep you from buying junk, in bulk. This tip can easily shave $20.00 (if not more) off the grocery bill every week.
Cut out sodas.
This tip may actually be the hardest for people, and the healthiest. One 20oz soda can easily cost $1.89 these days. You can make a gallon of tea or other drinks for roughly $0.59. You are probably rationalizing at this very moment that you only have one soda a day. One soda a day can cost $700.00 a year! I know, I was shocked too. If everyone in a family has "only one" per day that adds up to nearly $3,000.00 yearly. Cut out that daily candy bar and you trim your budget down another $330.00 per person.
Eliminating soda's and the weekly dinner alone can save $5,000.00 over the course of a year. Trimming spending in other areas can easily make you realize that making the budget stretch really isn't that hard. You will soon find that you have money for the things that really count. You may also notice that your stress level has gone down, and you can sleep easier.