Let me just start by saying this: I am not a financial expert. I have not studied the ideas or works of financial experts. I am a person in a family with a pressing need to get a grip on our finances. Two years ago, one of Dave Ramsey’s books lay on a table in my home for 3 months before I returned it to the well-meaning friend who loaned it to me…unstudied. There, disclosure done.
That said, I’ve had more occasion of late to consider frugality and I have some ideas on the subject I’d like to share.
Think about how you(r family) spends. You can start by mapping out existing expenditures; whether on a pad of paper, in a spreadsheet, or with a program. I recently identified groceries as a fatty area in my own spending and have used that knowledge to develop a
Think about how you might trim that fat. I have decided I will only make one grocery trip per week. I might go longer if I get crafty, but when we’re out of milk on day 4 we’re drinking juice for days 5 through 7. It occurred to me that this might not only be a way to limit the “oh, that’s on sale and looks yummy” impulse buys but also a good way to track my spending methodologically and suss out my
A means of maintaining and enriching the Plan. Maintenance is easy (or maybe not) in my example; I must go to the store no more than once a week. Enriching involves subscribing to and dutifully checking posts from gems like The Thrifty Mama and Money Saving Mom and utilizing the awesome tools on Publix’s website (Weekly Ad and Grocery List). I’ve also spent more
on this than I have in the past. I browse the Publix Buy One Get One section on the website, opting for bagels instead of the bread on my list if there’s a BOGO deal on them. I open the fridge and pantry to take stock rather than just shooting from the hip in the store. I am an educated and prepared shopper. And, now that I’ve invested this time, if they’re out of stock on the deal I want to buy I’ll invest some more time to stand at the customer service desk and make sure I’ll be able to cash in on that deal the next time I’m in the store. At a certain point in time commitment decisions I start doing the math and figuring out how much an hour of my time is worth. If I spend an hour and save $5 I might opt instead to play with my family. But, when times get a little thin you have to
5) Tighten the belt.
Some efforts will be more uncomfortable than others. I recommend folks try to stay calm. Take a deep breath if you need to. Take a minute to think about all the things/people you do have in your life and how you might make a dedicated effort to spend more time with/doing those people/things (feel free to change things up with those word sets, by the way…no reason not to have fun! ;)) you love. And remember, this is not a quick fix. This is a conscious decision to
6) Change the way you consume.
You are making lifestyle choices, not going on a crash diet. Allow yourself to flex your creativity muscle, saving in ways you’d never consider.
I’ve been happy with my plan. I’m not only accomplishing what I set out to accomplish, I’m also spending less time at the grocery store:). Oh, and it occurred to me that since I’m going through all these coupons and deals anyway (plus I’m exposed to various promotions, etc. through work) I could easily tweet the really sweet deals out. To that end, I set up a Twitter account for Pot Luck Mama posts. Follow my tweets if that would be helpful to you. Of course, it’s a Pot Luck…you never know what you’re going to get…;)
I know I’m not the only one out here with frugal fever. What are y’all doing?