9 November 2010

The last option

The economic crisis seems to be lingering longer than anyone predicted. We see various indicators starting to predict slow improvement but people are still losing jobs, the housing market, particularly in the US is shaky and in Australia grocery prices are going through the roof. Last year in the UK, one fifth of families, in homes of working age people, had no one working. I continue to get emails from people who are at the point of giving up, they've lost their job or just don't seem to be able to make any headway in paying off debt.

The answer to this problem never changes, in good times or in bad - stop spending, write up a budget, save an emergency fund and get rid of credit cards. It sounds simple, but I know it isn't. It's one of the most difficult things to work at and it is an ongoing battle, but the payoffs are enormous and significant.

So what is the first step toward long term financial health? Well, I'm no financial wizard but I think saving for an emergency fund, and a sound budget, should go hand in hand as the first step towards a sound future. A budget is like a map you draw yourself so that you'll know how much money you have each week, how much you need to spend on living and expenses, and how to pay off your debts in the most effective way. Once you have that map, you need a safety net, one that will allow you to work, pay off debt and enjoy your life without the threat of falling back into debt. Enter the emergency fund.

Don't rely on credit cards to keep you out of trouble. They only give you more debt to pay back. You end up paying the original cost, plus interest. The less interest you pay during your life, the better off you'll be. Do yourself a favour and retire the credit cards. Keep one for emergencies. Pay off all your credit cards and take great pleasure in snipping them up with a pair of scissors. Old ones of course.

Once you've got the basics in hand - you've stopped unnecessary spending, you've made up a workable budget, you're paying off your debts and saving for an emergency fund, the thing that will help you more than anything else is to keep working and set about saving as much money as possible. How you do that will differ with everyone of us but cutting back on non-essential services like mobile phones, cable TV and long distance holidays is an excellent start. Then it's the small things like the frugal use of electricity, water, gas and fuel, learning to shop for grocery bargains, shopping at thrift shops for clothing, blankets, household goods and craft items. You'll save even more money if you cut out fast food and convenience food and start cooking from scratch. Stop shopping the cleaning aisle at the supermarket and start cleaning with bicarb, vinegar, soap and water and that will keep more of your money in your pocket and less in the coffers of the multinationals.

There are so many ways to save money in the home. Hanno and I live on a fraction of what we used to spend and we are happier now than we've ever been. Paying off debt and being in control of your own life has more rewards than anything you'll buy on a whim or the fanciest meal you dine out on. But it's not easy. Especially when you start. It seems like you're standing at the bottom of a cliff face and you need to start climbing.

If you're in the situation where you have a lot of debt and don't know what to do, there are three alternatives - do nothing and pretend it will go away (it won't, it will get worse), keep spending and dig a deeper hole, or draw a line in the sand and promise yourself you'll start working towards a better future, today. If you do either of the first two options, you'll face an uphill battle your whole life, or at least until you can get your debt under control, but if you take the last option, you'll slowly but surely work towards a better future. It will be a future where you will be in control, you won't worry every day about what you can or can't afford, you'll even get to the point when you can decide whether to work part time or keep going full time - you'll give yourself that choice.

I know there are a lot of people here who've been smart savers for many years, there are also a lot who need help and who want to start moving towards a more frugal future. If you've got some smart ways of saving money, please share your tips with us. You never know, the ideas you contribute here today might help someone in dire straits, so please take a few moments and give us your best advice.



  1. Rhonda I stumbled on a lovely you tube.

    Sorry don't know how to link it so it automatically links for you. So you will have to copy & Pate.

    It is well worth you having a nose - It's called The Wartime Kitchen & garden.
    There is another by same series called Victorian garden I've enjoyed

    Love Leanne NZ

  2. I so agree with your point of staying out of debt! It is freedom!

  3. Hello Rhonda,
    Goodness your so right on with the budget.
    By doing yearly budget projections the budget is then identified as per a year not just this or next month. LIST ALL expenditures for the next year on a monthly spread sheet. THINK LONG TERM budget

    By using what we have wisely we are so able to keep more of it.
    Hanging the laundry, opening the doors windows in the cool of the morn we have only used the ac once or twice in the last four months. Ceiling fans are a wonder. If so be sure to keep the screens clean. Take a sweater and take it off and on, put shoes on or socks to warm your foot. Add a blanket or remove one. NOT the thermostat.

    Sewing is a wonderful way to keep what you have as well, be it blankets or clothing.

    Give and receive. With friends who have kids offer your used and outgrown to others and practice the humility of receiving used from others. Too many are a way to proud to do that one.

    If you have hens, go to the grocery produce folks and ask for the tossed out trim. Many will admire your use of what otherwise they would just be trashing.

    Compost and keep the wheel a turning. Cook what you will use. Left overs for lunch, but if you will not plan to make use DO NOT OVERCOOK. It will sit and spoil.
    Scraps to dogs, hens, compost.

    Loved your idea of the sink of water for the produce.

    Go over all your prescriptions, we have a 3 terr system on ours. I have researched generics to bring the costs down. We order a 90 day x3 refills mail order, as apposed to purchasing monthly. Some drug stores will offer this service at a discount so remember to ask your doctor for a 90 day x 3 refill rx. Many Insurances do this look into it. Terr t3 is $50, T2 is $25, T1 is $10. When you think of a family of RX that can be a huge savings.

    Remember on budget to list ALL of the bills that are due on yearly/quarterly as well. Plan for the deductibles that will hit in January. Lay out the FULL YEAR ahead. Plan for savings even if you it gets used before months end at least it is set aside. Plan on saving in the budget, not hope to save something after all is spent.

    Use the educational resources for the special needs kids. BY LAW in the U.S. they must provide for these considerations. When you have exhausted your private resources there is no shame in getting the help that your tax $'s pay for.

  4. I think my best piece of advice is make a budge. Work out honestly what your ingoing and outgoings are, then work out where you can save money on non-essential outgoings and work from there. Pay debts off first before doing savings as the interest rate of debt is usually higher than the rate of interest on savings. Oh and Rhonda, just thought you'd like to know that after your post a few weeks ago on setting up a supportive commnity of like-minded people, have just written a postcard to go in our local health food shop window asking if anyone wants to start a self sufficiency group for fortnightly meetings of crafts, talks, frugal chat, self sufficiency and skill sharing. Hope to build up a lively community of like-minded people so wish me luck!!! xx

  5. Love the post! I actually quit my job that had an excellent income because we cut back on many things. We do not have TV anymore. We buy used and pay cash when we can. We eat simpler meals. I planted a garden this summer and it didn't produce enough to preserve anything for the winter, but my father is going to help me this spring and I guarantee it will produce more next year. For birthdays I asked for fruit trees! There are ways to be frugal and save money, but still enjoy life!

  6. Thanks everyone. I knew I could rely on you.

    Gillie, what a wonderful thing! I wish you luck, and hope you find many who want to join.

  7. I agree with the idea of no debt, and I have no debt, but I do use my credit card for convenience and pay it all off every month. Perhaps this is more difficult for some people who buy too impulsively.

    But I am old enough to have been supporting myself and being a young married wife and mother for many years before such things as credit cards existed.

    I don't have any debt. My house is paid for. My car is paid for. The things I enjoy doing don't cost much if anything - visiting my children and grandchildren, reading, walking, gardening. I do go on vacations sometimes. I usually cook from scratch. I volunteer.

    Perhaps one of the best things people can do is not looking at ads, even if it means having no tv.

    But when I think it all over, I realize I have been lucky as well as helped by the fact that we did some things right. It's much more difficult for many people and through no fault of their own.

  8. Dave Ramsey is really big here in the U.S. He is for debt free living and sticking to a budget. If anyone needs assistance on getting started his babysteps which are in his website or books are a great start.

  9. Love the new photo Rhonda. My husband and I are working hard to pay off our house so that we can both relax a bit more and enjoy life. I would so like to cut back now but realise that when we are debt free it will make life so much easier. Still everyone has to have a goal :)

  10. Kristi, I totally agree with not watching TV advertising. I record most of what I watch and skip through the ads. They are shown to create desire, not watching makes it easier.

  11. Many years ago my first husband and I were facing an Everest of debt. We'd got married, bought and furnished a new house and everything was on credit. But interest rates kept going up and between the mortgage and the visa card we were hugely in debt. For about a year we panicked and ignored the problem and got deeper and deeper in the hole. In the end we had to face it or lose the house. We sat down with a sensible, calm third person (my Dad, as it happened, although a money-savvy friend would be good, or a debt counsellor if you need one) and gathered together every single bit of paper we could find to do with our finances. And we stayed put until we'd drawn up a table of bills and debts, rates of interest and and alongside a (sadly short) list of income and assets. It was painful and took a whole day. I cried a lot. But the relief of knowing just what our situation was and then planning a course of action to fix it was enormous. The overwhelming fear of the unknown state of our problem was worse than the reality! It took us five years to dig our way out of debt. We had no holidays, few new clothes (only one we had to have for work) and we pinched every penny. But it worked and we cleared the debt. I've been debt free since and now have a comforting nest egg and good assets and I can buy what I want when I want without worrying or feeling guilty. But mostly I don't. 'Things' don't make me happy. This safe, liberated feeling of being solvent does! If you are in debt the first thing to do is stare the problem in the face. Then you can deal with it. And you'll be SO glad you did.

  12. We simply added up all our bills for a year divided it by 26 and knew that we had to put aside that amount every pay fortnight. I keep a book in which everything we spend through the bank account is written down and the account is divided into seperate columns, so the I take the bills money out and place it in its own column that way I know exactly how much I have and can spend.It was tricky to start with but as the year progressed it meant there is always the money there when a bill arrived, which is such a nice feeling.

  13. Great post Rhonda!
    Yes it is so important to try to be debt free and to stick to a budget.
    Five years ago, on a very low income my husband and I managed to pay off our debts AND save a deposit for a house. It took a lot of dedication and creativity to find cheap alternatives, and to entertain the children but now living frugally is second nature.

  14. Friends of mine used to meet for coffee twice a week. Between them they would share a snack (a sweet) and have 2 coffees each. They knew her fathers time was not long and had yearned to travel USA for some time. They stopped (completely) just that priviledge of meeting for coffee and in one year had saved their travel expense. Its interesting what we can achieve by simply eliminating a treat here and there.

  15. Rhonda now that I rarely go to shopping centres/malls I find myself sensorily stunned on the occasions that I do. I am literally overwhelmed by the light, the noise, the in-your-face displays, the "discount offers" to have you spend more.

    I'd urge your readers to stay away from these places. They are a waste of time, resources and money. Walking through them creates a false sense of desire.

    Love your new photo!

  16. Good morning Rhonda,

    Again a wonderful post and I agree with each person who has commented. I also know that working out a budget can be quite daughting. A couple of things that will help. Firstly, keep all your dockets even small ammounts, and circle the dates and then clip then together in date order for each month, this will help you understand where your money is going. Then write down all your insurance and utility costs and divide by twelve, so you know what they cost each month. Now take your time and enter these amounts into a book with weekly and monthly columns. If you can manage it allow yourselves some pocket money as well this helps you not feel so deprived if you've been use to random spending. But really try not to spend more than your allocated pocket money each week. The thing that I find is the best of all is to try to enjoy the challenge. Think of your budget as a game and try to get better at the game each month. Budgeting is like riding a bike. At first you'll fall off a few times but once you get the hang of it you'll get great satisfaction and find it's an easy way to ride through life and will keep your finances fit into the bargain. Good luck to you all.

    Blessings Gail

  17. I think it helps to change the terminology.

    Many people in debt, find it hard to engage with "debt-free" because its too far removed from their reality. On the other hand, debt minimisation is a reference point everyone can engage in.

    As a young family, debt free became a depressing concept every time I looked at our debts. Seeing any amount owed was like we didn't meet the intended goal - freedom.

    Yet, if I looked at the debts as meeting a pre-determined minimisation goal, we didn't feel as restricted by the debts.

    It seems like a picky point, but I think many people want to reach the "freedom" target without appreciating the steps it takes. Freedom is only immediate if you win the lottery or sell off all your assets.

    If you're IN debt however, progressive steps of minimisation is the only key to getting out of debt. I agree with Rhonda, that it's one of the hardest things you're going to have to do.

    This is a mental battle as much as it's a financial one.

  18. Charles Dickens summed it up debt in a nutshell:

    "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pound ought and six, result misery."

    David Copperfield, 1849

    Love your new photo too!

  19. I do agree with Rose. Staying away from shopping malls and big stores stops the temptation to spend on things you don`t really need. If I see something that takes my fancy, I ask myself
    "Do I really NEED this?"
    The answer is usually "No", so that saves a lot of money.
    Finding a bargain in a charity/thrift shop can be just as satisfying as spending too much money in a High Street store.
    I retired recently and I`m enjoying relearning the old skills. Rhonda, your blog has been an inspiration!

  20. Wonderful post, Rhonda, and good responses everyone. Some frugal things we do that might encourage others: only have a car for each person who earns an income. We just switched to one car, from two, and have had to get creative about sharing between us. But it works and it makes more sense. A car should really earn its keep. When I quit my job and we began to live on just my husbands income, we knew we'd have to tighten our belts (so to speak) but we have really enjoyed the challenge. It has brought us closer together as a family and we've had to re-discover the wonderful things in life that are free. It feels good!
    Mend your clothes instead of pitching or donating them. Repair things or try going without before replacing them. Make gifts from scratch or give gifts of time. Use your library instead of purchasing books, renting movies, or subscribing to magazines. Avoid shopping malls, and other places you'll be bombarded by ads that make you feel inferior unless you BUY something. Cut back on coffee, sweets, alcohol, etc, which add little nutrition to your diet. And even eat less overall (many of us can stand to lose a few pounds)!

  21. I think the key step is to stop regarding shopping as a pastime and reframe it, as it used to be, as an activity where you purchase things you need. I see so many people going to the mall for something to do, and of course, they spend money whilst they are there. I try to go only very occassionally with a very specific idea of what I want.

  22. Like others, I have a separate account specifically for bills. The mortgage comes out of that one too. We added up a years worth of bills and divided it by 52 to work out the weekly rate. Each week that amount gets put in that account so that majority of the time the bills are covered. We did just have a blow out but thankfully that is a rarity.
    We don't have credit cards, our only debt is our mortgage.
    We struggle week to week like everyone else but at least we know that we pay cash for everything and if we don't have the money then we can't have the luxury items. We still seem to accrue way too much "stuff" but we are working hard on that to make it so that we can put more money into our mortgage and try to whittle it away faster.
    Thanks for the uplifting post today Rhonda, sometimes it feels like its only you who struggles with money. It is good to be able to pool everyone's ideas on different ways to try to get ahead.

  23. Like others, I have a separate account specifically for bills. The mortgage comes out of that one too. We added up a years worth of bills and divided it by 52 to work out the weekly rate. Each week that amount gets put in that account so that majority of the time the bills are covered. We did just have a blow out but thankfully that is a rarity.
    We don't have credit cards, our only debt is our mortgage.
    We struggle week to week like everyone else but at least we know that we pay cash for everything and if we don't have the money then we can't have the luxury items. We still seem to accrue way too much "stuff" but we are working hard on that to make it so that we can put more money into our mortgage and try to whittle it away faster.
    Thanks for the uplifting post today Rhonda, sometimes it feels like its only you who struggles with money. It is good to be able to pool everyone's ideas on different ways to try to get ahead.

  24. I think one thing that can be helpful is attitude. If you're trying to set a budget and save money, try to see it as a challenge. Seeing it this way makes it a lot more palatable and, in my experience, also makes it a lot easier to stay on track because it feels like a choice rather than something that's forced. There are so many ways to save money, but I think attitude is so important - if you're not interested, or feel like it's a burden, or hopeless, or worse, it's harder to do. It can be hard, but if you can change how you see the process and make it as much fun as possible, it becomes a whole lot easier, even when times are tough.

  25. I've been honing my budget for a while and my most recent change has been to give myself an allowance. I used to just buy what I wanted with credit cards and hope that the numbers would even out at the end of the month. While this kind of worked, I always felt out of control not knowing quite how much I had spent until I got the bill. And I would often have to use the money I wanted to set aside for savings to be able to pay off the credit card bill. Now, I give myself a $200 cash allowance (aka fun money)for the month. This way, the money is tangible and I know exactly how much I have spent and what I have left. I've been taking cash out for groceries as well. Now all I use my credit card for is gas for the car, really. And the occasional online purchase.

  26. Hi Rhonda,
    I recently started recording my budget and expenses on my computer using a program called You Need a Budget. I'm loving it. I was budgeting and tracking expenses before but often missed things that would put me over for the month. Now instead of being over I'm finding it easier to decide where I can save a little bit more instead. There are lots of other programs - some free, some not, that can be used.
    I really enjoy reading your blog and find it very encouraging. I can't wait to read your book.
    Thanks, Carrie

  27. Lovely post as always Rhonda, I love reading your blog and it always inspires me. I`m probably a little different from your other readers...living in an extremely isolated area with no access to shops apart from a tiny `local` shop which does it`s best to stock everything, but compared to supermarkets, is vastly overpriced. There is no public transport here and I have no private transport, so it`s that shop or nothing. There are times I would love a supermarket for essentials, as the few times I`ve been in one, they are vastly cheaper than I can get here. :-)
    I agree wholeheartedly with the budget, and am about to `redo` mine to take into account changed circumstance, so would add that your budget should be reviewed yearly to take such changes in hand.

  28. Dear Rhonda
    wonderfully put advice, as you know I am from the U.K and the district that I live in has some families where there hasn’t been employment for 2 or 3 generations . There are also an increasing number who are just a couple of pay cheques from the street and this is increasingly becoming the new norm. I have also notice the basic product I have been buying from the super market have been steadily rising 3p on my cheep shampoo and the same on some other basic items. I have even had to down grade my landmine and mobile phone package, would like to loose the mobile but as I am a carer it needs to stay.
    I did however after reading an article in my newspaper on comparison shopping and switching to own brands or there basics brand did manage to save a heap of money for example through thee reality of me not being able to afford a dentist I would buy an expensive top named brand toothpaste at £4.56. decided to look at there basics brand this was 17p for 75ml 25ml less than the named brand and the difference in the main active ingredients was negligible and I can purchase nearly 26 tubes of the cheaper one for 1 of the expensive ones.
    I did this for a lot more items realising that even though I was buying a budget brand in the first place.
    I do wish I was in a position to do a lot of my own personal care products and the like but time is always fleeting here.
    So I what I can with what I have cooking and making some soft furnishing items is all I can manage for now but its a start!
    Keep up the good posts


  29. I believe that the economic crisis is only really beginning. There is many tough years ahead for people, at least here in Ireland and indeed throughout Europe. Learning to be frugal, accepting a simple lifestyle and being content and happy with what we have will be the salvation of many of us, not that difficult for me as I saw tough times in the years gone by.


  30. Earlier this year I set myself a challenge of not spending any money for 3 months apart from for essentials. I saved so much money in those 3 months and I learned a lot about doing without things. Since then I really think about what I'm buying and if I really need it or not. Now, I'm on a new challenge of buying only second-hand or hand-made goods for a whole year. I'm one month in and so far I haven't bought anything new. I'm saving so much money which will go towards renovating our house. It's amazing how little money you can live on when you put your mind to it.

  31. Morning!

    Great pic Rhonda! I would like to add one thing I didn't see mentioned....make a menu. I do it for the work week and it is a way to plan for the use of leftovers and a great way to get kids involved too. The days may be interchangable meal wise but once the week is done I have eliminated waste, economized on the food bill and improved the nutrition of the food we ate. When its posted on the fridge you can't deny what you ate or impulsively make a junk food meal.

  32. My husband and I had the privilage of seeing Dave Ramsey live about a month ago and it was SO good. We are having to learn to live on less due to me working less.

  33. Thank you for great post Rhonda!
    My tip for budgeting: Realise your essential basic needs. They are not many are they? Then realise the fact that things can never buy you happiness or contentment. I know you understand me Rhonda and I leave it up to you to refine this if you want.

  34. I am in the UK and follow the Dave Ramsey plan that someone mentioned here. You can go to his website and listen to his radio show archives, all the steps are on the website. Its no magic formula, just simple straightforward stuff. After going bankrupt in his twenties, he now does not do debt at all and is now very successful. One thing I learned, you do not need to borrow to buy a car. Start saving now if you can afford to and only spend whatever that amount is. Thats what we did and it felt great.

  35. This is something I've been working on for a long time. For 4 years now, we've been on a tight budget, but have been bad spenders until early this year, when I finally started budgeting, but then quit after only a month, because my husband wasn't really on board, and even while I budget, he has a hard time not spending.
    He's also a social butterfly, and when we spend every night of the week at home doing home-cooked meals, and limiting our car usage (we have a really old van with bad mileage), he gets antsy and wants to go out. Right now we literally have NO extra money, barely enough to pay the bills, honestly, but he still wants to go out and "do something" which usually involves spending money. I want him to have a budget for that, but it would still be very limited. How can I make him see how important staying in is to our finances without making him miserable (not saying I want him to never ever go out, just not as much)?

  36. Hello!
    I don't know that I have advice to offer, but I can say what works for me and my family. The first step towards getting out of debt was to create our money book. It is where we keep all our bills, our expenses, what we pay out, what we put into savings, etc. It is a month-by-month book since our expenses and income vary per month, but we can get a good generalization of the entire year by looking at it. It has been invaluable when going on this new path to financial freedom.
    Changing the way we think about money changed other things for us as well. We started a garden, which meant growing some of our own food. Then we started conserving water and electricity, which reduced our bills. We started composting and recycling, which reduced our trash output and subsequently our trash bill (we pay per bag). There are so many little changes that will add up to big changes.
    The best advice I could give anyone wanting to cut back on their debt is to never give up. Times will get rough; you'll want to throw in the towel. Trust me, I know. I've felt that way plenty of times. But persevere. Getting out of debt will be liberating. Once that first credit card is paid off, or loan, what have you, you'll feel strengthened. You'll want to do more. And you can because you'll have that extra money. It will just take some dedication. But it's worth it.
    Thanks for the post, Rhonda!

  37. Amen I am in total agreement with you about staying out of debt. That is why our Country is in the shape it is in, everyone trying to live above their means, and on credit, well after a while and with loosing jobs and such it just cannot be paid, the debt just mounds and it is a terrible thing to be in such bondage to the world.
    I praise God he give us wisdom many years ago about this very thing. Thank you lord, and thank you for this post, it is very much needed, Hugs my friend.

  38. Excellent post! At one time I had several credit cards with debt on them. I read some wonderful advice that worked. Pay the minimum on all but one (the one with the highest interest), decide how much extra you can put toward that one and pay it down as quickly as possible. Then take all the money you put toward that credit card and apply it to another, plus the minimum you had been paying on that one. Keep doing this until all the credit cards are payed off. Then as you say, cut all but one credit card up. I worked wonderfully and I have been credit card debt free for over a decade.


  39. I have a 21 year old daughter just starting out in life. Her dad and I have lived frugally for so long it has rubbed of on her. My best advice for someone starting out 'fresh' is to be unencumbered.

    1. College is fine .. just pay as you go.

    2. A new car and subsequent payment will halt finances. Buy an older car for cash and save for a nicer one.

    3. When newly married, live on one paycheck and bank the second .. even if that means living in a trailer or small apartment.

    4. When babies start arriving, don't try keeping up with the 'Jones' .. you just need to keep up with rambunctious toddlers.

    5. By from thrift stores .. spray paint and repurposing new life into something old is often times better than buying new junk.

  40. I went back to cash for groceries and entertainment. When the cash runs out so does the purchasing. I find it much easier to stick to a budget for something that is so variable and every week when I see cash in an envelope.

    I then set-up a budget that takes care of all of my bills and puts aside money for different funds with such names as clothing, vacation, car, medical, house repair and so on. Each month, some money goes into the fund. From that fund I can pay for things that are highly variable and occur infrequently and hopefully save for anything I might want to purchase (eg. a new dryer) if I don't spend all of the money in that fund. These category funds are completely different from my emergency fund. I consider that to be for true disasters - like say major medical from a serious car accident or job loss. The category funds are meant to deal with reasonably regular items like a doctor's visit or a car repair rather than a major catastrophe. I also put aside money each month to build up my emergency fund and to pay down my mortgage.

    All of the money I bring into the house is accounted for whether it goes to bills or category funding. I don't have a dime left over. I like the funds idea because it helps me save for big ticket items in different categories.

  41. When budgeting and cutting back, it is too easy for me to start feeling cold, hungry and destitute, before even beginning! But when I start looking at all that we already have: food in the cupboards, clothes in the closets, more "entertainment" items than anybody needs, a roof and walls to keep out the elements, plenty of blankets and comforters, I start feeling rich rather than deprived. Then I am able to be objective about what items are truly necessities, and spend or not spend accordingly.

  42. I thought I would add this idea, for those, like me, who read book blogs or have friends recommending books online.

    I used to buy books if I couldn't get them at my local library, but discovered that if I keep a notebook next to the computer and write down the title of the book I am tempted to buy, the simple act of writing down the title seems to satisfy the urge to buy it! This amuses me a lot, but it works.

    It would probably work for other things. If you are tempted to buy something, write it down in a notebook. I never refer back to what I've written down. Pretty amazing simple tool.

  43. Great post. I was just talking with a friend yesterday about how important it is to not equate "frugal" with "no fun." My husband and I now find spending to be a chore - because saving is fun! Having money for the things that are really important is fun! It's all about perspective...
    Many thanks.

  44. Great post Rhonda (love the new picture too!), and my fellow readers have some great suggestions!

    Here's what I've been doing to save:
    - My other half and I wrote up a budget four months ago, after struggling for months to pay down our credit card. And, for the past two months we have been saving every receipt and I calculate where our money is actually going at the end of the month.
    - When we paid for things in cash, we would save all the coins in a container and roll them when it started getting full - last time we got $140 from this change!
    - We have our bank cards set up to automatically round each purchase up to the nearest $5 and deposit the difference in our savings account - this past month we saved $130 this way.
    - I have found that staying home is the easiest way to not spend. When I do go in to town, I bring a list, plan the most efficient route, and take pride in getting home as quick as possible.
    - We have been trying to purchase used items instead of new when possible.
    - We go to our local warehouse store - Costco up here in Canada - every two or three months and load up on meat for the freezer and other bulk items. Last time, we paid $24 for 11 chicken breasts, where buying two at the grocery store costs about $5.50.
    - We point out the schemes in TV ads ("If you buy this product, your house will be so much cleaner, and by the way, did you notice that big screen TV in the background? A clean house has a big screen TV.") and have a good chuckle over how naive they think everyone is. Once you stop being lead by the ads and start realizing what they're trying to do, it's quite amusing to see how a new vacuum or blender will supposedly improve your life.
    - We try to be honest with ourselves, and not thin we can live with no spending money, or always do the cheapest thing. We rented a more expensive house for three months (and left for reasons other than money, although that was a factor) because we knew we'd regret the missed opportunity if we didn't (and it was the nicest place available at the time).
    - We use the library for our reading materials, and our research. We will be raising chickens and planting a garden for the first time in the spring, so we are taking out various rural living books.

    All the best,

  45. We raise cattle for beef so we have our own meat supply but we have friends in town who group together with relatives/friends/neighbours and buy a whole beast once or twice a year from the sales or direct from a farm and have it killed and butchered. It works out as a flat rate per kilo but much cheaper than buying it in small amounts weekly.


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