Practically by definition, frugal folk avoid paying for services that many households hire as a matter of routine, quite without realizing how much that takes away from potential savings each and every month. A few examples:
- Yard work
- Restaurant meals
- Home improvements
- Dog grooming
- Doing tax returns
- Financial planning
- Tutoring for school-age children
Yep, skip paying for all that, and save hundreds of dollars each and every month! Hurray!! There’s just one catch….it all still needs to be done.
Frugal living isn’t just about money. It’s about making the best use of all of one’s resources: time, energy, enjoyment and health.
For instance, the importance of saving money isn’t really about the funds; it’s about what that money represents in the sacrifices to obtain it. (This explains perfectly why those who really squander wealth usually didn’t earn it, like governments and trust fund recipients.)
So, on the one hand, tightwads want to save money, but not in such a way that takes away an inordinate amount of time, energy, enjoyment and health. How does one strike that balance?
This is the first in a six-part series to address practical ways to get stuff done efficiently and effectively.
Part One clarifies the most important rules:
- Put a plan together. Knowing all the steps to a project or routine breaks it down into bite-size pieces and makes it easier to accomplish. Anticipating known events and thinking them through saves labor later. As has been harped over and over in this column, planning is a huge part of saving time and money on meals.
- Make lists. All too often, things aren’t acquired in time and tasks aren’t accomplished because they were forgotten at crucial times. (I can’t tell you how many column ideas have disappeared forever because I forgot to write them down, d’oh!)
- Delegate. Divide up specific tasks among members of the household, so not everything is all one person’s responsibility. Children especially need to be well-acquainted with what it takes to keep a household going. Your future son- or daughter-in-law will thank you!
- Work in bulk wherever possible. Prepare and cook several meals at once, to store the extras in the freezer for a crunched day. Buy birthday presents for multiple loved ones in the same trip. Cram several errands into the same outing.
- Don’t spend a pound to save a penny. Two hours’ labor to save fifty cents works out to $.25/hour wage. Was it worth it?
- Timing is everything. If your driver’s license isn’t renewed on time, you’ll stand in line at the DMV for ages. If the oil isn’t changed regularly on the car, you’ll lose thousands of dollars of use. And just try being late with the tax return. Make sure to do those tasks that are the most time-dependent.
- Under-promise and over-deliver. Some volunteer jobs just aren’t worth the time and effort they take away from higher home priorities; learn to say “no.” Don’t quit everything, of course, but do a great job on less rather than a mediocre job on more.
Tomorrow: How to make chores into games!