You may remember that October was Frugal Food Month. The result was OK. We went over the budget on groceries by $66 and restaurants by $7. However, we were under budget on coffee shops by $14. So all in all, not too shabby. And it wasn’t really all that hard. It just required a little bit of mindfulness.
Since I am now on leave of absence, the next couple of months will be “Frugal Month.” In general.
I’m pretty excited about it. Even though we live way below our means normally, we haven’t really been too focused on being truly frugal for some time. Convenience has typically won out over saving a few bucks here and there. I’m hoping that this frugal mindset will remain with us even after I go back to getting a paycheck again.
Implementing Frugal Month
Here are a few ways we are implementing Frugal Month:
- Cancel the cleaning service (I have time to clean now…)
- No travel during the holidays (those plane tickets add up fast!)
- Set a Christmas gift budget (this is also motivated by a desire to take consumerism out of Christmas – see more at postconsumers.com)
- Enforce my book purchase rule (no new books until I’ve read all the books on my bedside table + have exhausted my library list)
- Wait for iTunes gift cards to buy music (they inevitably show up in the stockings on Christmas Day)
- Buy more groceries at regular grocery store (I’ve noticed the organic selection is getting better and I want to encourage that)
- Wait a bit longer between each dog grooming and hair appointment
- Drive less (and walk more!)
- Don’t buy anything we don’t need (we made an exception for my daughter’s room makeover – it was time!)
- Find free forms of entertainment (family game night, walking in the park, photography, playing instruments/singing, dancing in the living room, drawing/painting, etc, etc, etc)
Frugality and Ethics
The bottom line is that frugal living is really the only ethical way to live (in my humble opinion). I hope to become better and better at it with each passing day, month, and year. It comes down to being mindful and really stopping to think before making a purchase.
At the same time, one should not let frugal shopping win out over ethical shopping. If you must buy something new, go for the fair trade, sustainable item over the cheap, sweatshop item. Vote with your money.
Tips for Shopaholics
If you have trouble with buying too many things, try these ideas:
- Don’t go shopping
- Cut up your credit cards
- Pay yourself first (i.e. automatically put money in savings account when you get your paycheck – that way you won’t spend it)
- If you have to go shopping and you see something that you want that wasn’t on the list, write it down and wait two weeks. Most likely, you’ll forget you even saw the item. If you still want it (and need it), go ahead and buy it.
- As you’re contemplating buying something you don’t need, think about that you’ll have to find a place for the item, it will add to the clutter in your house, and you’ll likely be donating it to Goodwill within a year.
- Know that you’re not alone. If you have a real problem, there are groups out there to help you with your obsession. See this website for more information)
Like what you read? Pass on the goodness!