Frugal living is more important now than it ever has been in most of our lives. We are experiencing record high unemployment rates and the financial markets have been hard hit during this pandemic. If you have read any of my past blogs, you will know I often mention planning/saving for a rainy day. That rainy day is upon us and it is a storm of epic proportions.
It’s important to understand that living frugally doesn’t mean being cheap. Frugality is all about being smart with your money and understanding its value. Right now, you need to be careful with your money due to the current financial situation we are facing. But as a person who likes to think of the glass as being half-full versus half-empty, these new skills or habits you learn can be carried into the future to help you save money. It’s a financial win-win which I’ll talk about in this frugal living blog.
1. Save On Transportation Costs
If you own a car, you will find you have been saving on gas (it helps even more that gas prices are low right now) as you are probably making fewer trips. You likely go to the drugstore and possibly the gas station when you go out grocery shopping. If you continue combining these trips once we return to “normal,” you will continue to save money. And remember to watch those gas prices; I know in the area around my home, prices can vary by a few cents a litre.
2. Review Your Car Insurance
If you aren’t using your car at all or if your mileage has decreased as you aren’t commuting to work or being out and about with friends, contact your insurance company to see what savings they can offer. It will take a phone call and some time, but the savings you earn will stay in your pocket. These savings could continue into the future if you are able to change your driving habits.
3. Watch Your ATM Fees
When you start living frugally, you will likely become very aware of what you are spending in different areas and look for ways to cut out unnecessary costs. For many people, banking charges are one of those costs. Don’t pay for additional service charges you can avoid. If you pay a monthly fee to have your bank account, paying additional ATM charges doesn't make financial sense. For example, I only use my bank’s ATMs to avoid being charged $6 to $10 per transaction for using another bank’s machine. This should be a long-term practice.
4. Keep Up The Home Cooking
During this pandemic, many people have taken up or returned to home cooking. This is evident by the empty shelves we see in the stores. You may think your grocery bills have increased, but remember, you are saving on the cost of takeout meals. Once you are back to working outside of your home, you will have less time for cooking. But, by preplanning your menus, you can continue with these delicious (and often healthier) meals. Involve all family members and share the tasks.
5. Take Your Lunch To Work
If you are currently working from home or are unemployed, you’ve probably been saving money since you’re not buying lunches and coffee; you may even be having leftovers for lunch. Keep up this frugal living habit when you are back to work and the savings will continue. These are the “habits” that are good to keep. If you are working away from home, but your partner is home and cooking, then you can take leftovers for lunch starting now. And remember, taking your coffee or tea with you can really add up over the weeks and months ahead.
6. Use Your Points
Now is likely a good time to use the points you have been accumulating. PC Optimum, for example, can be used to buy groceries. You can cash in Air Miles as well for gas, groceries, etc. Maybe you were saving them for a vacation, but if they can help you now, it’s worth it to use them. Once things change, you can go back to saving those points for that special trip. And if you have some extra time now, review your credit card fees to see if the benefits are worth the cost.
7. Practice Thoughtful Shopping
Some of you may find it hard to believe that you haven’t been to a mall in months. But guess what? You are still doing okay! So, don’t make shopping a habit or something to do just to pass the time. Shop with a purpose and ask yourself if you really need those new pants. Clean out your closets and drawers before you shop too—you may find things you've forgotten about. When you get back to work, others will think you have had a shopping spree! And, if you became a DIY pro with your nails, hair, etc., then keep it up and put the money you used to spend on grooming into your savings.
Frugal living doesn't mean suffering and saving every penny you earn. It's about using your money for things that truly matter to you and are important for your future. We are all learning during this COVID crisis that we can get by with less. If we keep up these money saving habits, then we can achieve future goals.
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