Frugality is not a common trait of this generation. We are constantly bombarded with ads encouraging us to buy more and buy now. There is a direct line between our emotions and our wallets. We believe whole-heartedly in the idea of retail therapy. Our focus on spending and consumerism has thrown us into debt and is devastating on the environment. If we learn to reign in our spending and live with intention, we might discover we don’t need retail therapists anymore.
One of the easiest ways to help the environment is to consume less. Buy only what you need and use things until they are worn out. Frugality and green-living are closely tied. Minding your consumption is good for your wallet and the planet. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in 2012, Americans generated close to 250 million tons of trash. Only about one-third of that amount made it to recycling.
We can do better than that. Consider mending old items instead of throwing them away. It is worth spending a little extra on a product that will last and is worth fixing. Choose quality over quantity. Plastic water bottles are a big contributor to the large quantities of waste hauled off the landfills. Invest in a reusable water bottle and water filtration system. Filter water straight from your sink into your water bottle. This will save you time, money and waste.
Spending less means you need to earn less. Reduce your time in the office and spend more time doing the things you love. If you are not budgeting, you need to start now. It is important that you know where your money is going. Set aside one day a month create a budget. Once you get the hang of it, you will need to spend less time mulling over the numbers because you will already have a plan in place. Here are some tips to reduce your spending and get on a budget.
- Categorize your expenses. Take an assessment of your income and expenses. Track your expenses over several months. Categorize your spending into needs and wants. As you get deeper into budgeting, you might notice some of your needs turn into wants. Prioritize your finances and organize your debts. Commit each dollar you earn to a specific category. Needs must be covered first.
- Identify problem spending areas. Take note of your spending habits. Carry a small notebook around with you and make a record of every dollar you spend. Writing things down brings awareness. Are there areas in your life you can cut back? Are you eating out a lot despite having a refrigerator full of food? Identify these problem areas and take steps to address them.
- Cut back on your spending. Now that you know where your money is going and have identified any problem areas, cut back your spending where you can. You should not be spending more money than you make. That math does not add up. One way to cut expenses is to talk with your local insurance providers to reduce your monthly payments. Make sure you are on a plan that fits your life. Talk with other monthly providers like cable and telephone as well. Cut these recurring expenses. Try living without the things on your want list for a while. You might find out that these items are bringing you little joy. Put the money you save in a savings account. Plan to do something fun with all the money you are saving.
In our consumerist world, it can be hard to practice frugality. Take stock of your expenses and getting a handle on your finances has many benefits. Knowing where your money goes reduces your stress. Consuming less not only helps your pocketbook, it is also good for the environment. Get your finances in order and enjoy the freedom it allows you.