Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's Frugal Journey to Financial Freedom, Part 2


It's a simple thing to tell someone to become frugal. It's even easier to give out frugal tips. But how does a person begin the journey? With so much information out there, which direction do you take to begin the journey?

When it occurred to me a starting point can be confusing, I asked myself how can I help others start without feelings of being overwhelmed creeping in on them. I decided to begin at the beginning. Just one frugal task is all it takes to begin the rewarding lifestyle. It takes a commitment to begin. Sometimes things won't work out the way they are suppose to. The important thing is you make the commitment. Every thing that follows will be an experiment.

Each week I'll post a frugal task. Try it out and see if it works for your family.

The first step is to get your finances on paper. Unfortunately, this is a have to. Write down every cent that comes into the home in one area and every cent that goes out in another area. You can do this in a computer program or with pen and paper. This may take a while because you'll need to gather bills and receipts for a week or a month. This depends on how you want to approach your budget. Note how much is spent on consumables such as coffees, lunches, groceries, health and beauty aids, etc. This is important because these are areas you can spend less on. Clothing and gas for the vehicle are other areas to look at in detail. Any area that is not a fixed cost can be reigned in. Expenditures to include, but not limited to:

Mortgage, rent
Real estate and school taxes (if separate from mortgage payment)
Phone (s)
Heat and electric
Home and vehicle insurance
Gas and mileage, maintenance
Car payments (s)
Credit card debt and other unsecured loans (furniture, appliances, etc)
Health plan payments
Discretionary spending ( lunch at work, coffee on the way to work, etc)
Anything else that's pertinent to your family.

This gives you a picture of where your money is going. This is the foundation for the rest of your journey. It's the most difficult step. Creating this list may be shocking when you see the results. After you recover, you'll see you are willing to proceed or you won't. My hope is you will move forward toward the next step of financial independence.

A nice side effect of the frugal lifestyle is a person sure does sleep well at night!

PART 2  You'll need some sort of journal with at least 3 columns. One for costs, date and savings.  You can add a column for anything else that is pertinent to your family's needs.
If you have completed the budget sheet, the most time consuming part of the journey is complete.

If you should decide to accept it, this week's challenge is loads easier. 

1) Keep track of every cent you spend on small items at fast food and convenience stores.  This would include coffee, tea, sandwiches, gum, candy, soda, and anything else you stopped for on a whim or desire.  Add up the costs at the end of the week and journal it.
2}When you purchase meat this week (Thanksgiving turkey not included) buy just a few oz less of each kind and note the savings. 
3) Look for a sale on glass storage containers with covers.  Plastic is OK too, but I prefer glass because it can go from fridge to freezer to microwave without any health hazards. (microwaving food in plastics is not advisable)
4) Start saving some glass jars to store soups and other items in the freezer.  Not too many, just what you think you can use in a month.

You will be making a list of savings for a while to reference later on.  Just saving and not seeing it in black and white is not enough to encourage you to keep moving on the journey.  Seeing it and adding it up from week to week can add a smile to your day.

Good luck and leave a comment if you have a question or want to add anything to the post.

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