Frugality. It’s a word that strikes different people in different ways. For some, it’s a refreshing way to get more value out of your money. For others, it conveys a sense of cheapness or of self-denial. For yet others, it’s just a way of living.
If you’re reading this article, you likely have some interest in the idea of frugality, so let’s start right off by clarifying exactly what we mean by “frugality.”
Frugality is usually defined as “the quality of being economical with money or food.” In other words, people who practice frugality are trying to get the most value for their money in all of the things that they do. It’s a powerful strategy for personal finance, no matter what your goals are.
Being frugal vs. being cheap
One of the biggest problems that people have about frugality is that they perceive it as cheap. It’s important to think of frugality and cheapness as two very different things.
Frugality means that you’re not ignoring your internal wants and desires, but understanding them. You’re thinking about your purchases, asking yourself what value you’re really getting out of them, and spending money when those things give you a lot of value. Cheapness means that you spend the absolute minimum amount of money necessary to maintain the basics of life and no more. There are no other values you care about.
If I have friends over for dinner, I’m going to try to make a great meal that they’ll enjoy while trying to keep the costs low. That involves thinking carefully about the meal, shopping thoughtfully for ingredients and making large batches of food at a reasonable cost. That’s frugality. If I were cheap and had friends over for dinner, I’d serve them the least expensive meal I could possibly figure out, ask them to bring their own drinks and not have any hand soap in the bathroom, because my only value is saving money.
Aim for frugal, not cheap. If something is important to you, obtain the results you care about while minimizing costs, not about how to save every penny.
3 strategies to become more frugal, not cheap
Minimize the cost of urgent and important expenses
We all have essential regular bills that we simply have to cover to maintain our basic needs. Housing, food, water, clothing, toiletries, electricity, insurance, a car and home internet to stay employed. You need those things, and it’s usually extremely clear what it is you want out of those things. When you pay your rent or mortgage or property taxes, you do it to keep a roof over your head, right?
The first big step of frugality is to ask yourself the big questions and evaluate each of those expenses really carefully to see if you can reduce them:
- With housing, is there a less expensive place that you could live, have your needs met, and be happy? If you’re frugal, you would carefully consider what you value and need in a house, instead of choosing the least expensive one.
- When it comes to your car, do you really need it, or could a less expensive car fit the bill? In this, being frugal means buying a car or using transportation methods that maximize your value of time and cost. Buying a yearly pass and taking the express train or bus every day instead of paying for a car may save you more money in the long run.
- For insurance packages, have you shopped around recently? How much of a deductible can you afford on those packages? I encourage people to shop around for insurance every two or three years by getting quotes from various insurers and then negotiating with your current insurance company. Explore bundling your various types of insurance as well, and think seriously about how much of a deductible you can afford if you actually do have to use the insurance policy.
- With food and household supplies, are you eating primarily meals you made yourself at home? Are you buying a lot of store brands? Are you doing sensible meal planning and grocery shopping? You don’t have to buy food that you don’t like or is not nutritious in order to be frugal — remember you can still enjoy meals without spending more money than what’s in your food budget.
These are all ways to retain the parts out of these essential expenses that you value while cutting out the parts that you don’t. Remember, it’s about what you really value.
[Read: Frugality Versus Time and Energy]
Reflect on the value of splurges and upgrades
What about all of the other expenses in life? The upgraded expenses, fun things, hobby expenses, takeout and travel expenses. Where do they fit in?
Because those expenses vary so much from person to person, it’s hard to give good strategies for each person. Rather, this is where a frugal mindset really pays off. Here’s how to evaluate those expenses.
- Review your last few credit card bills, bank statements, and store receipts, and ask yourself which of those expenses actually brought you lasting value in line with that expense. Just go through those credit card statements, bank statements, and receipt items line by line and ask yourself, for each one, whether you really got enough lasting value out of that expense. You can still enjoy the little things in life like good coffee and movie rentals, as long as that’s what you value.
- Aim to talk yourself out of things rather than talking yourself into things. Many of us have a bad habit of talking ourselves into purchases. We’re on the fence, but our mind tries to talk us into it because we have this short-term impulsive desire. However, if you need new work clothes, then you need new work clothes, and frugality should not get in the way of looking professional and put together.
- If you feel any doubt at all, delay the expense by 30 days. If you are thinking about buying something that you don’t strictly need and you have any doubt about the purchase at all, delay it for 30 days. Simply make a deal with yourself that you’ll revisit this in a month and if you still want it, you’ll buy it then.
- Use the pleasure of anticipation to your advantage. One of the best parts of spending your money on something that you want but don’t strictly need is the anticipation of it. It’s actually quite enjoyable to know that you’ve got something fun or enjoyable coming up on the horizon.
- If something you like has begun to feel less enjoyable because it’s become routine, give it a break. It happens to all of us. We find something we like, we do it again and again while the pleasure from that thing is a lot less than it used to be but we do it all the time just because it’s “normal.”
- Intentionally give free and low-cost things a priority, and delve into things that you want to try. If you have an abundance of options in front of you, intentionally overvalue the ones that are free and extremely low cost. If your choice is to watch a movie on a streaming service you already have or to rent a movie, then opt for watching a movie or show on the streaming service you have.
- Try to aim for the “least expensive ordinary day.” For me, perhaps the single most powerful tactic for really making frugality click was the realization that if I made my ordinary days as inexpensive as possible without making them miserable, not only would my spending be a lot lower, I’d also appreciate the special days a whole lot more and I wouldn’t have to spend nearly as much to make days special.
Put the money you save toward long-term goals
All of these frugal strategies add up to one thing: you spend a lot less money while retaining almost everything you care about in life. The challenge then is to make sure that the money you save doesn’t go into more and more urgent but not important fun things, but into important but not urgent big life goals.
Use the money you’re saving from frugality to build an emergency fund, pay off your debts, and then start saving for retirement. Think about your other big life goals as well and start actively saving for them, too. Do you want to own your own home? Do you want to travel around the world? Start savings plans for them. Those are the important but not urgent things, and they’re the true fruit of the frugality tree. When you start frugality, you are able to think more about better uses for your money, and along with it comes success in your financial goals.
Too long, didn’t read?
Remember, there’s a difference between being frugal and being cheap. Being cheap will ultimately save you money, but at the cost of happiness, convenience and even personal relationships. On the other hand, frugality will help you learn more about spending less and saving for long-term goals while still enjoying life.
- 12 Ways to Turn Frugality Habits Into a Game
- Counteracting the Sameness of Frugal Living
- 25 Options for Cheap, Healthy and Delicious Food
How to Be More Creative
Those of us who weren’t fortunate enough to be born the next Picasso may think there’s no way we can learn to be more creative. But is that really true? According to some of the most creative people in the business, it’s not.
I recently interviewed Brian Koppelman, a renowned filmmaker, producer, and writer. He has worked on some of my favorite movies, like Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen, and The Illusionist. He also created the popular T.V. show Billions, which has won many prestigious awards. Brian’s creativity has resulted in massive career success, and he’s spent years perfecting his creative process. We sat down together and he gave me his best advice on how anyone can be more creative.
Quick Tips on How to Be More Creative:
- Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to fail
- Tip #2: Don’t try to get it right on the first try
- Tip #3: Accept that creating can be uncomfortable
- Tip #4: Limit your time
- Tip #5: Reduce your anxiety
- Tip #6: Use rejection as a tool
You can watch my full interview with Brian below.
Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to fail
Brian says, “Whatever your favorite movie is, at some point during the writing of it the screenwriter felt completely lost”. When you’re working on a big creative project, you run the risk that it will be a complete failure. People often forget this, because they only see the finished successful product. But we know that for every movie that gets made, there are thousands of movies that don’t. If you’re afraid to fail, you’ll never be able to get to that amazing finished product. Even if it takes a few tries to get it right, it’s worth it to create something brilliant in the end.
Tip #2: Don’t try to get it right on the first try
There are two steps to creating something new: the first step is making the first draft, or coming up with something from scratch. The second step is editing that draft into a beautiful finished product. If you want to be more creative, you need to be careful not to combine these two steps (most people do). When you’re creating something from scratch, you need to silence your inner critic and just create with as much freedom and passion as possible. THEN once you have a first draft, you can go back over it with a critical eye and make it better.
If you try to edit it while you create, you’re limiting your creativity in a big way. You have to be able to try something new, and edit it out later if it doesn’t work. If you edit it out before you try it, you’ll never know if that would have ended up being the perfect addition.
Tip #3: Accept that the process of creating can be uncomfortable
We all have times where we’re working on something and we think it’s terrible. Brian explains that when he was working on his ESPN documentary on Jimmy Conners, he would come home feeling like he made it worse rather than better. But you have to get up the next day and attack it again. Once you realize that this discomfort is part of the process of making something great, you can learn to work through this tough part of the process and become even more creative.
Tip #4: Limit the amount of time you have
You don’t need a lot of time to make something great. It’s actually a huge advantage If you only have an hour a day to work on your creativity, because it forces you to focus and work with intensity. If you give yourself too much time, it’s too tempting for your mind to wander. By limiting your time, you’ll produce more creative work at a faster pace. Brian also advises to “Leave yourself ‘a wet edge’, or a little roadmap for tomorrow, at the end of your creative practice”. This way your subconscious will keep working on it, and when you come back the next day, you’ll be able to hit the ground running.
Tip #5: Eliminate sources of anxiety
When Brian and his partner David Levien were writing their first screenplay, they were both working full time. Brian advises aspiring creators not to quit their jobs, because it creates too much pressure. If there is a lot of pressure on you to create something magnificent, it can actually thwart your creative abilities. Instead, focus on eliminating anxiety wherever you can so you can truly focus on your creativity.
Tip #6: Use rejection as a tool
A lot of times when we hear “No”, it’s crushing, and it feels like a huge judgement on our work and our character. But Brian points out that you never know what’s going on behind closed doors, “Maybe that morning the head of the agency said ‘hey guys, don’t tell anybody but we can’t afford to take on any new clients. So for the next month you need to pass on everything’”. Your work could get passed up because of something internal you don’t know about, but if you take it personally and give up, you might miss your chance.
Rejection can actually be a useful tool to help you look objectively at your work.
Take your Creativity to the next level
Overall, creativity is a skill that you can improve over time. If you follow the tips Brian laid out above, you’ll be well on your way to being more creative.
Once you’ve honed your creative process, you may want to take it to the next level. Many great creators have started businesses from their work, and you could too.
If you want even more inspiration on how improving your creativity could transform your life, take my earnings potential quiz below.
YOUR GUIDE FOR SAVING MONEY ON PET FOOD
If you are like most people, your dog is not simply a pet. He or she is a member of your family.
You want to provide them the best of everything. From toys to treats, you love to spoil them rotten
But the costs. Oh, how they can quickly get out of control!
WHY CHEAP IS NOT BETTER
Your first thought may be to buy the cheap dog food.
The problem is that the lower quality food can lead to health problems for your pet, which could end up costing you more. It is not the answer.
Instead, focus on ways you can save while still getting your favorite canine the food and treats that are best for them.
STOCK UP WHEN ON SALE
When you find a great deal on the dog food you need, buy extra! There is no reason to pick up one bag when you can get a couple and save.
BUY IN BULK
Oftentimes, the larger bags result in greater savings. Compare the price per ounce of the smaller items to the bigger bags to find the lowest cost.
TRY THE STORE BRAND
Just as with the store brands you buy, sometimes the store brand of pet foods is the same – simply in different packaging.
Carefully review the ingredients before making the switch. After all, if they are the same, why are you paying for the label?
SIGN UP FOR THE STORE REWARDS PROGRAM
Loyalty has its perks. Many stores offer loyalty programs to members. You can get exclusive offers, discounts and coupons that are only offered to those who have signed up.
Some programs also reward for your purchase in the form of points. Once you accumulate the points you can cash them in towards savings or freebies.
GET ON THE LIST
Even if you are a member of their program, make sure you are also on the list! You will get alerts for sales and may even find some awesome coupons to make their way into your inbox as well.
Tip: Make a secondary email address to use so your inbox is not cluttered with these types of emails.
USE ONLINE SERVICES
There are online pet product providers, such as Chewy, who sell pet food and other items, often at a discount. The added perk here is that they deliver it directly to you – so no lugging home huge bags of dog food from the store.
You can use apps such as Honey or Wikibuy to compare online prices to ensure you also find the lowest possible price for the items you need.
SET UP AUTOMATED DELIVERIES
Some sites, such as Amazon, offer discounts if you sign up for automated delivery of select products. Not only will it be delivered, but you also won’t have to worry about running out.
CHECK FOR REBATE OFFERS
Sometimes, manufacturers offer product rebates. If you can find these, you’ll get money back on your purchase.
PRAISE (OR COMPLAIN)
If you have a food your pet loves, send an email letting them know. They may send you coupons or vouchers for products as a thank you.
Alternatively, if you have a problem with a product, make sure to reach out. The company may offer a refund or alternative product for your trouble.
SHOP THE WAREHOUSE
Skip the big box stores and head to your local warehouse. You may find larger bags at a lower cost sold there – saving you time and money.
BECOME A TRACKER
All stores run sales in cycles. They do this on food, clothes, and more – including pet food! Keep track of the offers at your favorite stores.
You will start to learn their cycle and can then stock up when items are on sale.
SKIP THE STORE AND MAKE HOMEMADE DOG FOOD
You can even bypass the store and make your own dog food right at home. There are countless recipes on Pinterest that you can try.
But, before you rush to start a cooking frenzy, make sure to carefully research each ingredient to make sure it is safe for your pet to consume.
PUT COUPONS TO WORK
Before you head to the store, head online, and search for coupons for your pet’s food. You may find them on the manufacturer’s website or on coupon printing sites.
Make sure to also check the product packaging as you may find them stuck to the front of that big bag of dog food.
GET FREE SAMPLES FROM YOUR VET
Vets get free samples of the products they sell – so ask for one! The freebies do not cost them anything, so they should be more than happy to give you one if you inquire.
A Peek Into the Last Few Weeks (and our family vacation!)
How to get a shower and get ready for the day when you’re taking care of two babies! 🙂
People ask me all the time how I’m doing with having two babies and I think this early morning picture says it all. Life is full, my hands are full, and my heart is so full! (By the way, I’m actually putting this post together while trying to bounce Kierstyn to sleep in the Baby K’tan… it’s rare that I don’t have at least one baby in my arms these days!)
How could my heart not be full when this is an almost daily site at our house!
Silas had another weekend baseball tournament at a town about an hour away (Murfreesboro). We had fans set up with a generator, tents, lots of cold drinks in coolers, and these cold wraps to keep everyone cooled down
Champ has been learning how to hold his head up and roll over!
The babies have started to love having books read to them. Goodnight Moon was Silas’ favorite book when he was little, so it’s been so fun to introduce the babies to this book!
We packed for our family trip in tubs — each person got a tub for the week. This saved so much space in our vehicle and made things much more organized!
Our one out of state trip this summer was to go meet up with my family at Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas. We weren’t sure if the trip was going to happen due to COVID-19, but because of a number of safety measures we put into place, DCS gave us special permission to be able to go and take Champ with us.
Every afternoon during our annual extended family lake vacation, my mom has “Grandma Time” with her grandkids. She teaches them a Bible lesson, they do a craft, have a snack, and do a game together.
Over the past two years, the older grand kids have started helping out. This year, each of the older ones signed up to help out with a craft and/or a snack and then Kathrynne is in charge of games (complete with an elaborate ticketing system and prizes they can turn their tickets in for at the end of the week ala Chuckie Cheese style!)
As many of you know, my mom had some serious health issues last year, including multiple extensive surgeries and skin grafts for skin cancer. She also got really sick with pneumonia in the middle of all that.
She almost didn’t get to come on the annual lake vacation last year. She did come, but she was so weak and sickly that I wondered if she’d make it another year.
This year, at 66 years old, she’s stronger than ever — not only leading Grandma Time, but also skiing and helping with the babies and cooking and looking for ways to reach out and serve all day long.
I know many of you prayed for her last year and I just wanted to tell you thank you, again! I look at this photo I snapped earlier this week and it just reminds me to be grateful for the many gifts it represents.
Her first time in a pool!
They had this sign at the pool! 😉
For details on how we all pitch in on meals and clean up, check out this post.
One of my favorite parts of our extended family vacations: the daily salad bars we have.
On our way home, we stopped by Ozark, MO so the girls and I could go in to the discount store there. (More details on what we bought coming this weekend!)
Jesse’s parents and his sister, Lisa, drove from Kansas to meet up with us so they could meet the babies, too.
I’m so grateful we got to spend time with extended family. This year certainly has made us so much more grateful for this!
A year ago, we were in the middle of our foster care home study and praying for who God would bring into our home for us to love on.
We were at peace about pursuing this path, but we were still apprehensive and wondering what it might mean for our future. There were so many unknowns, so many what if’s, and so many things outside our control.
I look back on this last year and the 5 children we’ve had the privilege to have in our home — 4 for just a very short-term stint and sweet little Champ who has been with us for almost 4 months.
There are still just as many unknowns, what if’s, and things outside our comfort zone. My heart has been broken in a hundred little pieces over the things we’ve seen and witnessed firsthand and the many kids and their stories whom we weren’t able to say yes to. I’ve cried more tears in the last 10 months than I’ve cried in the last 10 years (okay, pregnancy and postpartum probably played a part in that!).
And yet, my heart is fuller and happier than I can ever remember. The opportunity to love, pour into, and nurture has filled me up in the deepest of places. Seeing my husband and kids sacrifice and serve and love so well has been one of the most amazing experiences.
I don’t know what the future holds. I can imagine it will be full of heartbreak and beauty, tears and love, a roller coaster of emotions, and many things I can’t even imagine.
There are many unknowns, but this one thing I know: I don’t regret for one second saying “yes” to foster care. I look at these pictures and think, “We could have missed this.”
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