On what? Who knows...
Ok, that's not entirely true. For me it's coffee. I've probably spent close to $1000 a year on americano's, lattés and pastries...scary. ($20 a week x 4 weeks a month x 12 months = $960). We've also wasted money on buying things we don't need or taking things on credit, which cost us way more than the item was worth due to the interest. So, there ya go... Can you relate?
Let's look at what Jonni McCoy (2009) has to say. She shares Eleven Miserly Guidelines on page 30 of her book.
- Don't confuse frugality with depriving yourself
- Remove little wasters of your money (um, can you say Starbucks?)
- Keep track of food prices
- Don't buy everything at the same price
- Buy in bulk whenever possible
- Make your own whenever possible (see last week's Parmesan & Black Pepper Crackers)
- Eliminate convenience foods
- Cut back on meats
- Waste nothing
- Institute soup and bread night or baked-potato night
- Cook several meals at once and freeze them
Ok, most of those guidelines are good. However, I want to address buying in bulk, though: be careful. I used to have a Costco card until I realized that I spent more money in Costco than if I would have just went to the corner grocery store. I would end up leaving the store spending at least $100 on things that I really did not need in bulk. For example, I still have dried shitake mushrooms from 2007. The mushrooms came in two mega-size bags that I could not use before the expiration date. Instead of just buying bulk, I encourage you to compare unit prices. Sometimes a small can of the generic is still cheaper than the bulk brand name can. (Jonni does address the warehouse clubs in chapter 16).
Cooking and shopping are great ways to save money because it keeps us from eating out and is an easy way to see savings on a weekly basis. However, I'm seeing living frugally goes beyond what I cook and buy- it is also reflected in my attitude. I mean, am I trying to keep up with someone else? Or am I trying to overcompensate for things I did not have as child? How many people want to buy their kids everything because they didn't have much growing up? It leads us back to figuring out what is our real focus- what is truly important to us. I think it comes down to what we really value in life. For me lately, I want to live simply and focused on God. Living frugal compliments my focus on living simply. In turn, living simply feels more balanced. Be encouraged by Paul's words to the Philippians :
"Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don't mean that your help didn't mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles" (Philippians 4:11-14, The Message).