#FrugalFebruary – Review your Habits

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Do you ever wonder how you can turn your finances around if you’re struggling with debt or wondering how to make ends meet? In today’s blog post, we’re going to consider the issue of habits.

Take the advice of PTMoney who say that if you’re getting started with improving your financial situation, you should probably take a look at reducing your expenses first. They call it the low ‘hanging fruit’.

But, how to get started when you have a full life and don’t want to lock yourself away?

The answer?

Review your habits

It’s easy to get into the habit of buying a skinny latte on your way into the office (you’ve all read about the ‘latte factor’). The fact of the matter is simple. That £3 per day represents £15 per week (for a 5 day week) and whopping £600 per year if you’re working 40 weeks of the year. These things soon add up.

So, reverse the maths in a positive way. PT Money’s 52 week Money Saving Challenge encourages savers to save just $1 in Week 1, $2 in Week 2 and so on. Result after a year? $1378! If you prefer, you can start with the higher amount ($52) then work downwards towards that final $1 in the last week of the year. Either way, as the year progresses, you’ll need to plan for the money to be saved in the upcoming weeks, so add this to your budget spreadsheet and pay yourself first.

Going with the crowd

If your friendship group is intent on doing a specific thing as a way of getting together, and you’re sticking with Frugal February, don’t be afraid to be different.

My colleagues are looking forward to an evening out next month. This involves both a meal and tickets for a comedy show. As I’m not especially keen on the comedian they’re planning to see, I’ve said I’d be really happy to have a bite to eat with them, but will pass on the entertainment. That’s fine with them; I don’t waste money on something I don’t feel is worth the ‘life energy‘ spent to pay for it and my bank balance is happier.

Splitting the bill on a night out with friends can also be another stressor for someone who’s watching the pennies. If you’re keeping an eye on costs, consider joining friends after a meal (you can pay for your preferred drink at the bar on arrival) or suggest a bring-and-share supper at home.

Spend time not money

Cultivate ways to spend your time that doesn’t involve going to ‘shiny spending places’. A walk, a bike ride or a cup of coffee at your friend’s kitchen table costs nothing and I promise you it’ll be more fun than a shopping trip or expensive lunch.

Sign up to the library and enjoy a wealth of free resources that you can borrow. eBooks are even better!

Watch out for free local events or explore if you can obtain a pass for a free local attraction. We’re close to Kenilworth Castle which, in 1958, was given to the people of Kenilworth. As a result, residents enjoy free access during normal opening hours.

Leave your purse at home

If you take your purse every time you go out, you’re more likely to pop into the corner shop to stock up on something. Make it a habit to only take your keys, phone and whatever you need. If you get into difficulties and need money, chances are you’re not going to be far away from help or you can nip home and pick up your debit card.

Buy second-hand or in the sale

If you need to buy something, don’t automatically buy new or at full price. Some things are just as good (if not better) second hand, so seek out excellent sources of second-hand products. Because I wear a particular brand of clothing (a dress) every day for work, I always buy in the sale and stock up with one new dress each summer and winter, always buying at half price. These days, there’s always a sale on, so you’ll never have too long to wait.

Use your budget spreadsheet every single day

My mum and I were comparing notes at Christmas. We didn’t realise before, but we each monitor our finances every single day and use a spreadsheet that has to balance. They say “look after the pennies and the pounds manage themselves”. Maybe that’s right.

My dual account budget spreadsheet is coming out with my next Community newsletter, so if you’ve not yet signed up, head over to our Community page!

Delete the apps that cause you to spend

One of the things that helped me was to delete the eBay app’ from my device. Even if you are ostensibly using eBay to sell your unwanted stuff, it’s all too easy to take a look round the shop while you’re there. Worse, if there’s money in your PayPal account, that doesn’t count, right? Of course, it matters. So remove any visual prompt from your field of vision. ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ really works.

Look differently at leftovers

Last night’s leftovers often make a really great lunch, particularly if you have a microwave in your workplace kitchen where you can heat food. Where I work, a great many of us bring our lunch to work and (more often than not) it’s a small portion of what we cooked the night before. Recently, I made a huge amount of dhal; freezing portions has kept me well fed at lunchtime over many days.

In addition, it’s often possible to adapt something’s you have leftover from one meal to form the basis of the next. So, being frugal with food will reap financial benefits, too.

Happy helpful habits

Did you change any habits, which enabled you to save money? What frugal habits helped you? Let me know! And don’t forget, my dual account spreadsheet will be available through my Community newsletter, so click here to receive my next mailing when I’ll share the link to it.

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