To make sense of all the financial turmoil swirling around us today would take way more than the average citizen can comprehend.  Regardless, one thing that everyone can think through today is under the title “Frugal Living”.

As we hear some say that, in order to get out of debt we must first go further in debt, common sense would say just the opposite. That is the purpose of this article; to get us to think frugally.

To the common, everyday man or woman on the street, it appears that many corporations and banks are deemed “too big to fail” and thereby get a “helping hand” from good old Uncle Sam. But what about you and me? I think most would agree that, in the big picture, we are pretty much on our own. So, let’s take a look at what we can do to stave off the pending “adjustments” that are sure to come.  Consider carefully part one of 8 tips for a more frugal lifestyle:

1- Stop spending!

The best thing to do is: stop going any further into debt! No matter what some in “leadership” have to say to the contrary, we do not “spend our way out of debt”. That is only for the big boys and time will tell if that will work. Meanwhile, you and I need to be “getting our ducks in a row” and stop the spending NOW! Maybe you know someone that has either had their hours cut back at work, wages reduced and overtime gone away or, worse than that, lost their job.  It would do you well to begin trimming back before that should come knocking at your door.

2- Consider the balance sheet.

The next best step is to take a look at our expenditures.  Remember the old saying “waste not, want not”? Well, there is always some waste that can be eliminated from everyone’s little corner of the world. If you doubt this, just find someone who went through the Great Depression, and they will confirm that we are a very wasteful society. They may also be able to give you some tips on where to cut down or cut back on your monthly expenditures, thereby becoming frugal along the way. Let us never forget another phrase worth repeating here: “always save for a rainy day” because, sure as darkness follows the light, rain is coming! Maybe an IDA account is for you. Read more here to see what this is all about.

3- The rising cost of food.

As the belt-tightening continues in the economy today, one area where the costs continue to rise is in the area of food.  Since you can’t personally do anything to stop this rise in costs, the best thing you can do is to cut down on your own expenditures in the area of food. For example, how many times a week or month do you eat out at restaurants? How often do you buy your lunch, either out of the vending machines at work or at the local deli?  This would be a great place to start on cutting into your budget. By adjusting your “outside the home” eating habits by 50% you can realize some real savings. Finding information to help you in this area is as simple as a Google search away.  Start by thinking of ways to fix a lunch to take to work instead or preparing more meals at home instead of those frequent trips to the restaurant.

Another thing to consider is: leftovers. A great way to save money and cut down on food waste is to simply not let the food go to waste in the first place. Keep a close eye on what’s in the fridge and don’t let those leftovers become science projects! Every so often, take a look at what got pushed to the back and, in so doing, you will not only cut down on food waste and the cost that comes from it, but you will also feel better about yourself. Anyway, I’ve learned how to celebrate Spring without breaking the bank. And we had a nice Spring, I tell you!

4- Name brand clothing.

One of the traps we can fall into is in the area of name brand clothing. It goes without saying that peer pressure has a lot to do with this mindset. That and the relentless advertising we are bombarded with on a daily basis, from gotta have it now ads to the latest trendsetters from Hollywood. If we are going to win the war in the frugal arena, we will need to change our thinking in this area. It may be tough on the children’s psyche but, in order to tighten the belt financially, we also need to tighten the belt socially! Explain to them (and possibly yourself as well) that your friends may think you’re cool but that won’t pay the bills. There is no shame in shopping at thrift stores; many clothing items are in like-new condition for a fraction of the cost. And, after all, what is worse: wearing “hand me downs” or going naked?

5- Hug a tree today.

Okay, maybe that is a bit misleading but, consider all the paper products used around the house on a daily basis. It takes trees to make everything from toilet paper to paper towels to tissue paper and, if that can be the incentive to save, so be it. There are alternatives available that allow multiple uses before disposing of, such as washable wipes that are also “earth friendly” to the landfill. If you consider the amount of money saved by switching to multiple use cleaning cloths, etc., you can truly experience a more frugal lifestyle without sacrificing convenience. Think also about opening an IDA account if you qualify. I bet you won’t regret it later!

6- Household cleaners.

Many of the household cleaners you have accumulated are costly and not environmentally friendly. It is a fact that many can even be combined to produce deadly results. Maybe it’s time to do a thorough housecleaning of your housecleaning items and consider how many of them can be made with common chemicals at a fraction of the cost. An example would be your store bought window cleaner. You can mix vinegar and water in proper amounts that will accomplish the same thing. The same can be said for laundry soap, toothpaste, etc. Don’t forget that couponing still works great and there are numerous homemaking websites available that will give you some priceless advice on how to save money through frugal living.

7- Saving money at the drug store.

Often, when filling a prescription, we or our doctor fails to consider generic drugs that can be a fraction of the cost of brand-name drugs. Not only that, but many over the counter medications can carry the same cost difference. Educate yourself before making this frugal move first but, if you find it to be viable, then apply the old saying “ an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and go for it! See as well this post about the importance of education and having a decently-paying job. You may not give it any thought now, but being able to put money aside for retirement is also one of the benefits of having a good job!

8- Rising cost of energy.

It is on everyone’s mind, especially every time you drive by a gas station or get your utility bill: the rising cost of energy is affecting everything. From the manufacturing of goods, the growing of foodstuffs, the transporting of items large and small, along with the need to get from point A to point B impacts our wallets. If you are to save money and live frugally, you will need to be proactive and not reactive to something out of your control. Keep your house energy efficient by blocking all drafts and adjusting your “comfort levels” temperature wise in order to run your heating a cooling system less often. Turn off all unnecessary lights around the house and don’t take such long showers. Wash your clothes in cold water as much as possible, thereby reducing the amount of time your water heater runs.

Make sure your vehicles are tuned up and tires properly inflated. Schedule your driving to complete multiple errands, thus cutting down on fuel consumption and thereby saving money at the pump. No jack rabbit starts and smoother stops to reduce gas usage. Keep your car clean and waxed; this will cut down on wind drag and increase fuel economy and as we all know, there’s no other way than living within our means.

There is much more that can be said when considering a more frugal lifestyle. Use your own imagination and you will come up with many ideas on how to cut down costs and save big. These 8 tips for a more frugal lifestyle are just the beginning of what will not only save you money but prepare you to better live within your means without cramping your standard of living too much.