If you don’t make a concerted effort to live frugally, money has a habit of vanishing as soon as it hits your bank account. And since personal finance is rarely part of the school curriculum, many people feel at a loss when it comes to living on a budget. But the internet has the answers. In a recent Reddit thread on r/Frugal, forum penny pinchers shared their top tips for living frugal.
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Saving money starts with “self-sufficiency,” explains one Redditor, adding that it’s worth limiting unnecessary purchases like Starbucks coffee and going to the beauty salon. Instead, brew your own coffee and do your nails at home. In other words, know the difference between “wanting and needing” a service, product, or experience.
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If there’s one suggestion that’s been cropping up consistently on Reddit, it’s that living frugal requires a budget. The first step is to track your expenses, which you can do using a spreadsheet or on an app like Mint or YNAB. “Know exactly how much you spend in each category. Those ‘small’ day-to-day expenses like eating out can add up to more than you remember,” one comment read. Once you calculate your expenses, budget every last penny. You can do this physically – in Dave Ramsey-esque envelopes – or use tools like YNAB, which allow you to apportion your funds.
Related: 31 easy ways to save money every day of the month
While the government can cover some of your expenses if you’re too sick or injured to work, the payments are often not enough. This is where supplementary disability insurance comes into play. You can sign up through your employer or directly with a disability coverage insurance company, which will help you compensate for the loss of wages. A Redditor shared the story of an injured colleague who received 80% of her income through supplemental disability insurance.
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While credit cards can lead to high-interest debt, savvy consumers can also take advantage of their cash benefits. Whether you have a big purchase on the horizon or just want to make the majority of your payments by credit card, you can earn a significant percentage on your purchases. That said, only use the card if you are safe you can pay the bill at the end of the month.
Money is literally worth having if you harness the power of compound interest. If you’ve forgotten what compound interest is, just know that it’s simply the interest you earn on the interest. If, for example, you have $1,000 in a high-yield savings account with 2.5% interest, you’ll have $1,284 over 10 years. “Remember it’s one of the few free meals in life,” writes a Redditor.
Not only will planning ahead help you prepare for big purchases, but it will also keep you from “panic spending a lot,” as one Redditor put it. Plan ahead for meals, shopping trips, vacations, and other major expenses to keep your budget and expenses predictable.
A new planning strategy is to pay “false” bills. In other words, put money aside for upcoming expenses like a doctor visit. It will help you both build solid savings and get you ahead of upcoming bills.
You can’t compare prices unless you already know how much things cost. Knowing the prices “will help you recognize good deals and not impulse buys,” writes one Redditor. Since most stores post their prices online, the Internet is a great resource for comparing prices.
Thrifty living comes with its own anti-consumerist ethos. For real need the latest smartphone or is it simply a manufactured wish? One Redditor seems to be suggesting the latter, reminding readers to appreciate what you already have and “forget about consuming addictions/distractions.”
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