Everyday Cheapskate: Keeping Things Frugal Definitely Pays Off
As the cost of basic consumer goods continues to be much higher than a year ago, frugality is fast becoming its own art form. I hope the following encouraging tips from your fellow readers on how to be a frugal rockstar will inspire all of us to pay attention and embrace ways we can immediately begin to see more money left in our wallets.
Over the past six months, I've been on a tear to declutter and get organized. It has made a huge impact on my spending. Basically, I've stopped spending money on stuff I have already but just didn't know where to find it. The key is knowing what you have and finding it when needed. If you can't find your stuff easily, you might buy something you already have or, even worse, believe you got rid of it, buy a replacement, and then find the original shortly after. -- Millie, New Jersey
We have a new weekly menu item at our house -- Everything But the Kitchen Sink Soup. Basically, this is just throwing a bunch of whatever-is-in-the-fridge to make a soup in order to get rid of stuff that's about to go bad or otherwise needs to be used up. You can put so much stuff into soups, and you can freeze leftover soup, too. Really helps to prevent food waste. If you need instructions on how to do this, look up CotterCrunch.com. When you get there, use the search function to find that "recipe." -- Erica, California
I started using grocery delivery during the pandemic. Even taking into consideration the monthly/annual delivery fee, I've stuck with it because it significantly reduces my impulse buys, which continues to save us money. And we have all but eliminated spending on junk food. -- Molly, Pennsylvania
When surfing the internet and you're about to buy something, or just tempted to do that, add it to your cart but don't checkout right away. Give yourself a 24-hour rule, meaning you'll return tomorrow to make the purchase. This is enough time for me to figure out if it's worth it, if I actually need it and will definitely benefit from it. 90% of the time when I do this, I must admit it was just an impulse. It's so much easier just to delete it and move along than to have to return something or, worse -- figure out what to do with it. Sometimes I even forget to come back until I get an email message telling me I've left something in my cart. That's a wake-up call that makes me laugh! -- Jonathan, Utah
Collect vegetable scraps for stock from peeling carrots, onions, and other veggies. Collect them in a bag in the freezer. Do the same with bones; once you have a full bag, slow-cook it on low for a day for homemade stock. Remember to wash vegetables before peeling. And, a heads up: avoid adding trimmings from kale, cabbage, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts -- they can make your stock taste and smell unpleasantly sulfurous! -- Mandy, Washington
I have a personal rule: Don't buy anything unnecessary for the first week of the month. I get paid monthly. You can't believe what a difficult challenge that is, but the payoff is even greater. I fight off my impulsive self, and each time I win that battle, it boosts my desire to determination to live more frugally. I continue to find new ways to make it through that first week without unnecessary spending. Actually, I'm getting used to seeing a considerable balance in my bank account during that first week and it is so satisfying. I've even cut out my Starbucks habit by making coffee at home. If I were paid weekly, I'd change the rule to something like don't buy anything unnecessary for the first two days following payday. -- Sandra, Texas
Mary invites you to visit her at EverydayCheapskate.com, where this column is archived complete with links and resources for all recommended products and services. Mary invites questions and comments at https://www.everydaycheapskate.com/contact/, "Ask Mary." This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book "Debt-Proof Living."
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