Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Frugal Principle #3: Planning

Now we're getting down to the practical, nitty-gritty side of being frugal! I think that if there's one thing I've learned about saving money it is that there is no substitute for planning. Planning gives you control and knowledge of what you're going to spend. Without it, it is so easy to waste money!

The most fundamental element of planning a frugal lifestyle is making a budget. I may be slightly weird, but I love budgets! (Of course, I am the same person whose two-year-old daughter plays "organizing.") But seriously, there is something so satisfying about discovering where your money is going and then committing to whatever changes to those amounts you decide to make. So far from being limiting, I think a budget gives you freedom and control over an aspect of your life that may have felt out of control.

I am no expert at making a budget, but I know that there are many tools out there to help. There are various online subscription sites (and probably some free ones too). I've also heard good things about using money management software, such as Quicken or Microsoft Money. Personally, I just use a blank book and a computer spreadsheet.

Planning for a frugal lifestyle also goes way beyond just making a budget; it can save you money in many other areas. Meal planning is a big one that comes to mind. Just deciding ahead of time what your family is going to eat for the next week can save you tons of money, both at the grocery store and at restaurants that you might have patronized.

Planning and doing research before making a large purchase can also definitely save money. It is so easy now to do internet research on any product, from a vacuum to a TV, before buying it. I like to use comparison shopping sites such as to compare prices.

There are definitely more ways that planning makes a frugal life easier and saves money. I'd love to hear ideas on more!
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  1. Hi Liz! I'd have to say one of my biggest meal planning changes was to invest in a chest freezer and learn how to buy in bulk when things are on sale. It ends up saving us a lot of money so long as we remember what's in the freezer and leaving lots of time to defrost.

  2. That's such a good idea, Alaina. I'd like to get an extra freezer eventually. Would you say that the extra energy cost is worth it?

  3. I honestly don't know, since the freezer moved in with my husband. If one shops at places like Costco or Sam's Club, I'm sure it becomes necessary to have a second freezer, though. That's why my parents bought their second freezer. And it gives you lots more room for big cooking day leftovers, too!


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