Now that we’ve examined the proper measure of frugality, realized that healthy frugality exists as a wide spectrum, and looked at the specific ways frugality is practiced in my home, I’d like to finish this series on Frugal Living by sharing my tips for success in maintaining a frugal lifestyle.
For Christians, the whole reason for living frugally should be because we desire to be good stewards of what God has given us. The first step in being prudent with our resources is being obedient to God by giving back to Him from the top of what He has given us. When we give cheerfully and faithfully and with the right motives, God will certainly be faithful to meet our needs as He has promised.
Live on a written budget.
We have taken Dave Ramsey‘s advice to spend every dollar on paper first. What this means is that sometime prior to our paycheck hitting the bank account, Travis and I sit down and have a budget meeting. We assign dollar amounts to various line items within the categories of giving, saving, and spending until every cent has been “spent” on paper (or rather, in Travis’ amazing Excel spreadsheet). This accomplishes three things.
- It encourages openness and accountability with your spouse on money matters.
- It encourages you to consider your upcoming needs (and wants) and to prioritize them while at the same time discouraging the practice of impulsive or unplanned purchases.
- It helps ensure you aren’t spending more money than you are making.
We have also taken Dave’s advice to make purchases with cash. Being able to literally see what’s available to spend seems to increase the incentive to spend–or to NOT spend–wisely. Our cash categories include the following.
- Dining Out
- Hair Care
- Blow Money (“Angela,” “Travis,” and “Family”)
For more on implementing a written budget and cash envelope system, read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.
A large part of what has allowed us to maintain a lifestyle of good stewardship is to save all year round for bigger, upcoming expenditures. By setting a little aside every month for these things, we hope to avoid having to come up with an unmanageable amount of money all at once (which usually leads to debt). The savings categories which we fund on a monthly basis include the following.
- Auto Fund (for maintenance and for future car replacement)
- Education Fund (for all costs associated with homeschooling)
- Home Fund (for home improvement, future appliance replacement, etc.)
- Vacation Fund
- Medical Fund (used to fund our HSA)
- College Fund (for our children)
Know your weaknesses when it comes to spending money. If browsing the ads in the Sunday paper makes you want to spend money you don’t have for things you don’t need, then avoid them! I have found that when it comes to staying content, ignorance is bliss. Not knowing what’s out there means not wanting to buy it! Contentment is a means to spending less money, but more importantly, it’s a Godly character trait for which we ought to strive.
“Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)
Don’t worry about your needs.
As you work to maintain a frugal lifestyle, always remember that it is God who meets your needs.
“Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8b)
“Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)