How to Be Frugal–Ten Tips to Get Started

questionHow do we live the frugal life? It can’t be done without self-knowledge, attention to detail, and yes, time and effort. It is easy to get things done when we just throw money at the problem. But that is not necessarily a good idea in the long run. Unless you are very rich and just don’t care. But there is a huge and joyful pay-off to doing the work to craft a rich yet frugal life So how is it done? Here are 10 tips to get you started:

  1. Get organized. Many of the basic techniques of a frugal life DEMAND a degree of organization. For example–how can you avoid wasting food if you have no routine or schedule but keep shopping as if you do? Or how can you avoid library fines if you can’t find the books that need returning?
  2. Keep track of ALL the money that comes in–no matter how small. If you don’t know how much you have you could get an unpleasant surprise.
  3.  Know EXACTLY how much you owe, and what the amount of your monthly expenses are.
  4.  Cut all expenses that are not serving you. The useless gym membership, the online dribs and drabs. If you don’t use it–get rid of it!
  5. If you are running a negative balance or your expenses and income are the same– you are forcibly frugal. Look through the posts here that to get some ideas on making your life better. Cut your expenses anywhere you can. But–if you are lucky enough to have something left over you now have work to do.
  6. Set up fool-proof systems. Pay with a debit card that rejects the sale instead of over-drawing your account. Set up automatic bill pay for any items that will charge you a penalty for being late or where being cancelled can hurt you (car insurance for example). Make sure you pay all taxes and quarterly payments on time. In fact–make it early. If you have a tendency to forget make sure you don’t have to remember.
  7. It is time to decide what to do with your disposable income. The first step is SAVINGS. This may be in the form of a savings account, but that is really just a holding area. You need to investigate other places to put your money that pay you more. Go to and look at investment books for beginners, or find a investors group in your area.
  8.  When you are thinking of buying something, ask yourself a few questions. Do you REALLY need/want it? Is If yes, is this particular item the very best thing to fill the need at the best price? Could you find it used or borrow it? Think things through before you pull out your wallet.
  9. You don’t need to save ALL the disposable income. Life is for living. Spending is part of dealing with money, and part of a frugal life. The difference between a spendthrift and a frugal person is that the frugal one spends it well. Deciding what to do with your pleasure money is very personal and takes thought. Unless you are very wealthy you have to make choices. Maybe small ones–buy that new dress or go out to dinner. Or maybe big ones–the camera or the trip. It’s your money and your life. Just don’t fritter it away on small things while you can’t make up your mind.
  10. Being frugal often involves using other resources besides money. What are yours? What can you use to barter with? If you want or need something, ask yourself how you could achieve the outcome you want without using any money at all. When you strike up a business relationship with someone always ask if they are willing to trade. You may be surprised. This only works if you are doing business with actual people and not corporations. This is a good reason to do business with small outfits that are capable of trading.

If you use these ten tips you will feel more in control instantly. And if you keep it up you will have more money, more control over your life, and more fun. That is the point of a living a frugal well-ordered life!


The Frugal Bride—Are You Getting Married? Save Money and Still Have a Great Wedding!

A Lovely Wedding Can Be Frugal!

A wedding is one of the biggest events most of us will ever be involved in. It is also one of the most emotional. And of course we want our guests to have a wonderful time, and we want to create happy memories that will last forever. But—we may not have enough money to go around. What is the frugal bride to do?

When I got married in 2000 I only spent $1200 dollars. I recycled the rings from a pawn shop (after we smudged them with sage, that is.) I used a dress that I had bought awhile before but never worn, a frothy shell pink number with lots of lace. We got married in the empty field next door. We served homemade food to our guests, and my friend who is a baker made the cake. The minister cost $250, so we had to pay that. The only thing I splurged on was the flowers—the bouquet and one big beautiful arrangement.

The first thing you need to do to plan a frugal wedding is break down all the components. Venue, food, drinks, music, flowers, other decorations, officiant, wedding attire, rings, and whatever else you want to include. Then think each element through, with one question in mind—“How can I get this taken care of for little or no money?”

Do you have a dress in the family that would suit you? Wearing a family heirloom at your wedding could be very charming. Does someone you know have a lovely cutting garden? Maybe they would donate the flowers. Know a baker? Perhaps they would do as my friend did and make you a pretty wedding cake. Is someone in your family a remarkable cook? Let them run the lunch or dinner plans. Do you belong to a church, temple, or other congregation? Many times the group will provide the space for the wedding and the minister or rabbi will officiate free of charge for members. Why not ask?

Go through the list and dig up every source of help you can. When you have run out of free or discounted helpers it is time to take stock of the things you must pay for. This is one of the reasons planning ahead is so important. You can’t get good deals at the last minute unless you are very lucky, and who wants to rely on luck at a time like this?

Because it is your wedding, and that is a most important occasion, it is totally with-in the frugal plan to splurge on one or two elements. The only requirement is that you give due consideration to every detail before you open your wallet. It may be the wine or the dress or the rings. Whatever it is, think it through carefully, spend what you need joyously and without regret, and whatever else—enjoy your day!


Here are a few resources:


How Much is Enough? Six Tips for Knowing when to Stop

If You Don't Know what you Want You'll Never Have Enough

The question “how much is enough?” is at the very heart of a frugal life richly lived. It is the backbone of frugal abundance. We live in a culture that resists the concept of enough. For the inhabitants of the “developed world”, the answer we must give is that no amount is enough. The economy we have created depends on MORE, and just enough is considered an ill.

But sensible people trying to live a good and pleasant life know that this is hog wash. Too much clutter in our material possessions or our time leads to a frenzied life where we don’t fully use or enjoy the things we have. So what is the cure? Try these six simple tips to get back to a state of happy balance:

  1. Before you bring in ANYTHING new, look at what you already have and ask yourself what the purpose is. Do you already have something that will accomplish whatever it is you are trying to do? For example, if you want to make crepes, do you really need to buy a special pan? Or would the cast iron pan you have work just as well. This also applies to time—before you add something to your schedule STOP and ask yourself why.
  2. Do you know the real cost of the things you want to acquire? Don’t forget to add in the cost of maintenance, repair, and auxiliary doo dads that you will need to make it work. When it comes to your time, remember to include travel and preparation time. These are things you need to know before committing yourself. If you don’t think it through you may bite off more than you can chew and end up with TOO MUCH.
  3. Where are you going to put the new thing? If it doesn’t fit in your house it won’t fit in your life. The same goes for new activities. When are you going to do the new activity, including prep, practice, and travel if applicable? Things without places create clutter and eventually misery.
  4. How does the new thing fit into your value system? If you don’t know, don’t buy it till you find out. You only have so much time, money, and physical space. If you let in a bunch of stuff that does not serve your value system, it just becomes a distraction. It also drives out the things that are in harmony with your values, and therefore robs your life of meaning to one extent or another. For example, if your values include bonding with your loved ones with a real sit down dinner, adding a lot of early evening activities is actually a form of clutter and will soon become TOO MUCH.
  5. Have a plan for buying things and committing your time. If you put the big pieces in first, such as travel or buying a house then the smaller decisions become easier. If you know that forgoing a new outfit will get you closer to a trip you want to take it removes some of the sting of saying no to yourself. This also works when dealing with family members. If you all agree that going camping is important it will help when you have to nix the new sneakers. Well, maybe not every time, but it will certainly help.
  6. Now apply these guidelines to what you already have. Do you need to purge anything? Cancel anything? Get rid of any time commitments, memberships, or subscriptions? Does all that you have serve you and your values? Be honest, and then start making a pile for charity. And don’t be too quick to fill up the spaces that get opened up. Open space and breathing room are essential to a happy life and a sign that you have just the right amount.

Try these six tips to create a life that is the right size for you. Not all of them will be easy, but the results will be worth it.

For more on this topic check out these links:

Moving the Frugal Goddess to

The Frugal Goddess

Hello my dear subscribers. I have moved the Frugal Goddess blog to a new home at you click the link you will find several juicy new posts! Please come see me over there, and don’t forget to subscribe…

Speaking of subscriptions, I have started a Frugal Goddess mailing list and a newsletter. To join the list, click here:

I will be sending out things that don’t necessarily show up on the blog. So sign up and get you extra goodies!


Dear Frugalistas–I am Moving The Frugal Goddess!

Hello Dear Frugalistas–I have finally made the big move to and I would love to see you there! Everything is there just as it was only better. The only thing missing is you. If you are a subscriber would you take a minute to visit the new site and subscribe again? Here is a link:

I plan to leave the old site up for awhile, but all new posts will be on the new site. Thanks for being a loyal reader and I’ll see you on the other side.



The Frugal Goddess on!!


The Frugal Goddess is now at a site. I will be publishing the same high quality advice on living a rich full life using fewer resources. Only the format is changing.

This change will give The Frugal Goddess more flexibility, more beauty, and more support for creativity. Please come see the new site for a healthy dose of frugal abundance! And don’t forget to subscribe.

2011 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 25,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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