When it comes to personal finance, there's no end to the advice you can get to save money and be more frugal. However, there's one tip that rules over all of them: Don't buy stuff.
Picture: Andreas Dantz/Flickr
Of course there are some things you absolutely have to buy. You have to eat food. You have to pay for a place to live. You have to have some amount of clothes to wear to work, and you have to pay to get there. Outside of that, most things are negotiable. And even those things can be reduced. Finance blog Frugal Woods explains how this applies to the author's clothes-buying habit:
Quite simply, I don't need more clothes. But that's never stopped me before. So why am I stopping now? I'm a thrift store maven and I have a bag of tricks on how to get a good deal at goodwill, but, still. Truth is, I love clothes. Can't help it. Not going to lie. I love finding thrift store steals and pairing them up with garage sale belts, hand-me down cardigans, and shoes I've had since the late '90s. I'm as frugal a dresser as they come, but still…
Every frugal tip in the world isn't going to save as much money as simply not buying anything.
Does this mean you should always feel guilty for spending a dollar? Of course not. But it does mean that getting a better per-unit price on an item you're never going to use is throwing money down the drain.
If you're trying to save money, start by identifying the areas where you shop compulsively (as opposed to necessarily). In the author's case, clothes shopping was a weakness as well as a budget-suck, so she came up with a simple two-step process to reduce her spending:
To achieve this goal I follow the below process:
1) Do not enter a thrift store.
2) Do not think about entering a thrift store.
Boom. Savings galore. It sounds silly, and it's not practical for everything you spend money on. But unless you're living on poverty-level income (which is a legitimate and separate problem), chances are there's something you can eliminate entirely to reduce your monthly expenses.