not wasteful; not spending freely or unnecessarily; thrifty; economical
not costly or luxurious; inexpensive or meager
Frugal. A word commonly used to define the miserable Dicken’s character, Scrooge, with his “Bah,” and “Humbug!”Possibly not a surprising choice of character given that A Christmas Carol was written in six weeks by a Dickens driven by the financial stress of an urgent debt to pay off.
Frugal. A word many of us have become more familiar with as we face uncertainty in the world’s current economic climate.
Frugal. Such a miserable sounding word. Makes me wonder, does frugal mean we can’t have fun?
For our family, a personal choice not to return to my full time job following the birth of our daughter eighteen months ago, has led us on a journey to find simple ways to save money WHILST ATTEMPTING TO RETAIN OUR SENSE OF HUMOUR. Can we be frugal and still have fun? I think so and I hope this series of Friday Frugal, but Fun! posts will share some useful ideas and information for you and your family both about being more aware of how your money is being spent and how to teach your children important lessons about money.
So where to begin this journey? For us it began with another very unpopular word, this one starting with B …
Do you honestly know how much you spend each month? Have you ever added up everything that you spend money on? Are you really sure that what is coming in covers what is going out?
To really make a budget work you need to undertake a good old fashioned attitude adjustment. You need to start believing that a budget can give you more of a sense of freedom when it comes to money.
The way I see it, if you know exactly what you are spending, exactly where your money is going, then you know exactly what you have to spend. No more hiding from your husband as he opens the credit card statements, no more standing at the checkout wondering if your debit card will be declined, no more wondering how you will get to payday with no money left in the bank because you have a budget, you know what you have to spend and you use this budget to plan how you will spend your money for the week/fortnight/month ahead.
In our house, to get real about what we were spending we used the Australian Government’s Understanding Money Budget Planner. A really useful tool, it prompts you to think of everything that you spend in a pay period. From a weekend newspaper to a visit to the hairdresser.From Foxtel (which we often forget as it is automatically charged to our credit card) to the late night chocolate and ice cream fix from the corner store.When we got real about what we were spending, we quickly saw a gaping, empty chasm between what came in and what was going out.
Now this may sounds stressful, discovering that in reality what you are earning as a household is not covering your expenses but remember it’s all about the attitude; instead we will commit to feeling empowered with this knowledge and the search to find a solution. And the way I see it, there are only two possible solutions – find a way to bring in more or cut costs quick!
See now, that wasn’t so hard was it? If you haven’t done so yet, it’s time for a little homework (I am a school teacher you know!) Gather all of your bills and bank statements and spend a little bit of time working out where your money is going. Look around online for a budget planner you like and see where you stand. Get real about where your money is going as it is only then that you can get out of the quagmire of quicksand and start moving towards a more frugal future!
Ideas for Family Fun without Spending a Cent
Now as promised, some frugal fun. This weekend choose to have a no-cost family fun day! Try;
- Make sailboats from your recycling and race them in the blow up pool or bath.
- Set up an obstacle course in the back yard.
- Make pet rocks. Name them, decorate them and make each a home.
- Rig up a rope and sheet as a volleyball net and have a family game of volleyball with a beachball or balloon.
- Wash the car together.
- Create a scavenger hunt list and all get hunting.
- Jump rope, jump in puddles or chalk out a hopscotch grid on the payment for more jumping fun.
- Go for a walk, a bike ride or a hike around your local area.
- Visit your library and borrow some books, DVD’s, CD’s and games.
- Build cubbies with sheets and blankets.
- Put on some music and dance.
- Take lunch out into the backyard and have an impromptu picnic.
- Dig around in the DVD cabinet for one you haven’t watched for ages and have a movie night.
- Get out some pencils or crayons, cover the table with paper and draw together, making up stories as you go about what you have drawn.
- Bake together or let the kids whip up some pikelets for afternoon tea.
- Put on a performance: a musical or a play.
- Play schools or restaurants or fire trucks or castles.
Next Friday Frugal, but Fun! I will talk about why I love living with cash!