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Many of us have a bad relationship with our finances. You may have a job that pays well, but that can sometimes make it even trickier to keep a tight grasp on your finances; when you have money to spend then it’s very easy to spend too much. Most of us have credit cards, and many people will exceed the overdrafts on those credit cards. We live in a consumer culture, and we’re always to buy more, more, more. Unfortunately, when we listen to those voices all the time then we can end up in money troubles.
There is a way to be frugal and still enjoy the finer things in life, however. It’s just about listening to your own voice and realizing which luxuries you actually want to treat yourself to and which ones you just “think” you should have. Frugal living is often seen as boring living, but that’s only the case for people who don’t know how to do it properly. If you want to start saving far more money and still living life to the fullest then here are some helpful tips to help you on the path towards doing so.
Pay off your debts
Most people end up in serious debt because they just want to enjoy life. You spend a little beyond your means, but you tell yourself it’s okay because your credit card will cover it or you perhaps borrow a little money to finance a bigger purchase. The problem is when you become a little addicted to the luxuries in your life because you tell yourself that you’ve got to “live a little” and you don’t want to deny yourself the things which make you happier. Whilst everybody should allow themselves the occasional treat, nobody should spend beyond their means. There are ways to be frugal and still enjoy life.
If you’re already in debt then it’s still not too late for you to turn things around; you need to simply pool all your disposable income (excluding money for necessities such as food) into paying off your debts. That needs to be your priority until you owe no more money and you can return to buying luxuries. You could learn about credit issues here if you feel as if you’re drowning in debt, as this article discusses how the solution can be to get rid of most of your credit cards; essentially, you’d be fighting the problem at the source. The key thing to take away from this piece of advice is that nothing is forever and you don’t have to simply “make peace” with your debt; nobody has to be stuck in that situation. If you change your spending habits then you could pay off the money you owe and approach your financial life in a different way in the future.
Reduce your expenses
Continuing from that first point, whether you have debt or not, it’s important to approach your money in a sensible manner. Everybody associates a frugal lifestyle with one in which you “can’t have fun”, but this simply isn’t the case. Being frugal is about being smart enough to make a budget and keep a keen eye on your expenses. Start by looking at the amount of money you earn every month. Add up the costs of all the necessities you need to buy (food, utility bills, rent, petrol, etc), and make a note of that figure. Look at how much money is left, and that’s your “spending money”.
Most people refer to leftover money as disposable income, but it’s not always sensible to see this cash as expendable; some of it could be better put into savings or an emergency fund for a rainy day. You never know when financial disaster might strike. With whatever money is leftover, of course, you can treat yourself to luxuries such as nights out or those new clothes you had your eye on. The important thing is that you live within your means; don’t spend more money than you earn in an average month. That way, you can live frugally, in a sense, but you’re still treating yourself to luxuries. In fact, you’ll enjoy those luxuries more because you won’t be splurging on everything you see; you’ll just be buying the most important things that you can afford.
When you’re out and about
Go out for a spot of lunch or an evening drink with your friends, by all means. Don’t deny yourself those elements of life because you should be out and having fun with the people who mean the most to you. That being said, you don’t have to go crazy on the purchases once you’re out there. You could perhaps set a limit on the number of drinks you’re going to have or, at least, on how much you’re willing to spend when it comes to drinks. This isn’t just for the sake of avoiding the drunken walk home but for the sake of your back pocket; drinks are expensive.
If you’re eating with friends then you could perhaps get some larger plates to share and then split the costs later; you should find that you’ll get more food for your money, and everybody pays a fair price. You might also want to eat something small before heading out so that you only want a little bit of food at the pricey restaurant. Or if you’re going out to a club with your friends then you might want to have a few drinks at somebody’s house in order to save money and avoid the expensive drinks at bars. The point is that you’re going out because you want to have fun with your buddies; you don’t need to spend a lot of money to make the night better.
Opt for minimalism
Minimalism is always the way to go if you want to save money. Think about fashion in particular; you don’t need to waste money on a million different outfits. You can circulate a few different shirts and pairs of jeans (perhaps accessorizing with different coats or jackets) in order to keep things fresh. You don’t need to spend a fortune to keep things fresh in your life. That’s the overall message to take away from this article.