I'm the author of Frugal Living for the 21st Century: Adventures in Using Your Money Wisely. It's currently available in paperback and electronically as a Kindle book on Amazon.
I've also written a nonfiction book about how to write fiction, My Writer's Sampler: Exercises in Learning to Write Fiction. It's a lot of fun.
Two points in the day can give a working person trouble: getting dressed for work, and knowing what in the world is for supper when you get home. In both cases, it’s not the action, it’s the thinking about it and planning that can cause difficulty.
When I was especially busy at work I used to hang a week’s worth of outfits in the closet complete with undergarments and accessories. Any morning, all I had to do was grab one and put it on. The underpinning of this system is that I had to do laundry or at least assemble outfits every weekend. That was easy enough and saved me indecision and delay on a work morning.
The what’s for supper problem is similar. On the weekend, or during a boring meeting, or if evening TV isn’t holding your attention, sketch out a week’s worth of main meals and write down what you need to make them. Saturday, or whenever works for you, buy all that. Having written down what to make and bought the ingredients, all you have to do when you get home is review the list of meals and make one.
I used to buy Chicken Tonight dinner sauces and pour them over a baking dish of chicken pieces and frozen vegetables, with maybe instant rice or cubed potatoes. Forty-five minutes in the oven while I changed clothes or helped with homework or whatever, and supper was ready.
Just as physical health makes a better life than being unusually tall or a popular kind of attractive, so financial health is a different thing than wealth. Just look at the athletes who become wealthy at a young age and then die poor. What they needed, what we all can benefit from, is financial health, something that doesn’t require a specific level of income or assets.
A financially healthy person knows when to stop. When to stop recreational shopping, gambling, spending on games or collectibles, when to stop letting money seep away without noticing where it went.
A financially healthy person looks ahead farther than the next paycheck. They realize that unexpected expenses aren’t really unexpected. We know to expect a car repair or a medical bill, but we don’t know when to expect it. The healthy response is to save up as if you knew it was coming next month, since it might. They start saving a little for retirement as early as their thirties. They put aside 1/6th of the car insurance bill each month so when the half-year bill comes, they are ready.
A financially healthy person addresses emotional problems with appropriate solutions instead of covering them with the temporary thrill of a new purchase.
Soon the back to school sales will be followed by the Halloween specials and the Christmas shopping season. We’ll encounter dozens or hundreds of objects that are labeled as costing less than usual. 10% off. Save 50%.
If money is tight or you just don’t want to be wasteful, consider each item and ask yourself if you’ll still want it in a few months and whether you really need it at all, at any price.
Remember, you save 100% when you don’t buy it at all.
For those who like extreme frugal measures, consider saving the wrappers from sticks of butter or margarine. They will keep in the fridge or freezer for a long time.
You can use them as needed to grease a baking pan, put a little butter on top of rolls or biscuits, grease a knife for smoother cutting of sticky things like brownies, take a dab to moisturize dry cuticles, or use the wrappers to separate hamburger patties in the freezer.
One piece of protecting your identity is preventing scammers from opening accounts in your name without your knowledge. One way to do that is to “freeze” your accounts with the credit reporting agencies, Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax, Naturally, you don’t want the accounts to be frozen when you yourself are applying for anything that involves a credit check, but when you aren’t, it’s a safe practice.
A new law goes into effect after September 21 that requires the agencies to freeze and unfreeze your accounts without charge.
Back when I last had insurance, 2008, I took the medicine that was just right for me. Without insurance, I switched to a generic that was okay but not great. Now, ten years later, that med is available in generic form, but even then it still costs $100 a month! However, when I Googled to find out the current price I was reminded about GoodRX.com. Their site has price-reducing coupons for a variety of prescription medications at several stores. You put in your zip code and they find prices and coupons for many pharmacies near you.
Thanks to GoodRx I was able to get the Rx that is good for me at a fraction of the market price.