Going Frugal: 5 Baby Steps to Get Started

I was chatting with a couple of bloggy friends of mine, Alyssa and Denise on their BlogTalkRadio show a few weeks ago.  The topic was CVS, but what I said (I’m parsing below) is true for anyone out there who’s just stumbling into this “couponing” and “frugal living” thing:

It’s easy to forget how challenging this is when you’re a beginner.

If you’re just starting to consider how you can cut costs and save money – whether because you’re trying to get ahead a bit or as a response to the current economic realities of job losses, dwindling home values, or vanishing retirement investments – start with some small steps like these:

1. Breakup with Starbucks. Even a cuppa joe at McDonald’s ($1.06 for a small when I was there on Saturday as a treat for my kiddo) is far more than you’d pay if you brewed your own coffee at home. Depending on the type and the cost of the coffee you use, you can brew your own coffee for nickels and dimes at home and save the dollars you’d have spent on a cappucino in your piggy bank instead.

2. Divide and Conquer. If you use fabric softener sheets, double your money by cutting them in half. You probably won’t notice much, if any, difference at all in how your clothes smell and feel.

3. Zip Twice. Those plastic storage bags – the zippy ones for your freezer and the regular ones for your pantry – can be washed out, dried inside-out, and re-used. I do this with *most* of mine; if I’ve used them to defrost meat, I pitch them to reduce the chance of cross-contamination.

4. Get Clipping. Coupons will save you TONS over time once you master how to use them effectively with sale items and start shopping with a stockpiler’s mentality. But even if you’re brand new to coupons, you can save a few bucks a week while you learn the ropes; you’ll get hooked quickly once you get the hang of it!

5. Make Family Dinner Nights the Norm. Eating out costs serious cash – even at fast food joints – when you stack the cost up against cooking a meal at home. If you’re living a drive-thru dinner life, consider planning ahead to cook at least (1) dinner at home a week. Visit $5 Dollar Dinners for help with planning nutritious and inexpensive family meals. Already kitchen savvy? Step up your game with the whizbang girls over at Once A Month Mom; Tricia and Cortney will show you how to cook a MONTH of meals in one day, saving you serious time, money, and stress!

Going frugal doesn’t happen overnight. Take small steps to change your day-to-day spending behavior and start looking at what you have with the idea of making it last for the longest time possible. Before you know it, you’ll be a bonafide frugalista, too!

Catch up with Marianne online at her frugal living blog, The New Frugal Mom or her personal blog, Writer-Momm