In the last few months I've found that I've not been saving as much as I should. I've been making some quite expensive payments recently but these have been necessities; engine repairs, student loan repayments etc. It's the things that aren't really necessary that worry me such as eating out too much, that extra beer, new clothes. Does anyone have any tips or handy hints to help me be more frugal with my money?
You seem to have identified the major problems already. Limit the amount you eat out and the amount of beer you drink. I would also advise you to
1. leave your credit and debit cards at home and carry cash, and spend only cash. Save your bills and track how much cash you spend. Knowing where the money goes allows you to control it more easily.
2. related to 1, figure out a budget of fixed expenditures, food, clothing, transportation, aas well as savings, and stick to the budget,
Lower your rent, and have a paid off or cheaper car -- the big things swamp the little things.
We transfer all of our bill money to a second checking account titled "AutoPay". That way we cover our basics.
The next thing we do is pull our food money for the week in cash into an envelope. Food is food does not matter if it is eaten at home or out and about.
We also pull flex money $20 for each of us. If you want a book or something that is what it comes out of.
We also calculated our non-monthly expenses and put that in another account. New Tires are no sweat when you have budgeted for their replacement.
Beyond this basic money management. Learn to cook at home with fresh produce. It is very cheap and much better for you. Also learn portion size so you make what your body needs calorie wise. It will keep you healthyer.
As to clothing, I take a different view on frugal. I save up for better quality but fewer items to fill out my wardrobe. I like wearing quality stuff and it makes me look better, so I feel better. I think it is worth the money to dress well.
As to beer. Find what you really really like and have A beer. Better one nice drink then lots of crap. But I also don't drink to get drunk.
Sounds like your on a good track to save. A way I try to save is by appreciating every little thing you have and get. Sometimes if buy slightly better quality products they will last longer and you will appreciate them more. When drinking beer buy a quality product and enjoy one or two. If you go out to eat, select one night a month and go where you absolutely enjoy. This way you will enjoy the experience a whole lot more and wont feel the need to do it all the time. Better one quality meal at a fine restaurant than numerous visits to a bad burger place for the sake of it. Cheaper isn't always better in the long run.
OK, here's some simplicity. Interim steps (until you've accumulated enough data to prepare a basic budget).
1. BASIC CABLE or NO CABLE. Ditch the DVR box. Having spent more than a few years working night shifts, I found that the line about 90% of everything is drek is an underestimate when it comes to TV.
2. Cut back on entertaining yourself. I like movies. I don't like that every time the family of four goes to the movies, it's $100--$150 out of pocket (tickets, popcorn, dinner out after).
3. When you leave a room, turn out the lights.
4. Bring your lunch.
Have to disagree with number three. Turning the lights on/off takes more power than leaving them on if you'll be in there often.
Nope Mythbusters settled that. 3. is correct. Turn off your lights even if it is a second.
@ Tyler M. Good sir, you aren't blessed with children who tend to forget that nobody needs their bedroom light on during the day when they're at school.
Incorrect, the power difference between "On" and "turn on" is practically nil.
The only difference is for the swirly bulbs. Those die fast if they're constantly turned on/off, and are quite expensive.
Say more about that. I don't see why cutting a switch takes more power... but if so, I want to know, and approx how much, so I can guess how long a period it is that would be equiv to turning off the light.
I imagine the idea is that it takes more power to go from "off" state to "on" state, than to stay on. I know that's true of mechanical devices, but I don't know if it is true of electrical devices as well. Even if true, I imagine the power savings is miniscule, and probably outweighed by the wastage when you don't return to the room shortly (which is inevitably bound to happen).
I could even be wrong about this, but it's something I remember hearing multiple times, though I've never checked sources or anything. Made sense to me that the constant turning on/off of electricity would eat power up, so I never bothered questioning it.