Friday, February 13, 2009

12 tips for budgeting like a pro, at home

(Cate Gillon, Getty Images News)
12 tips for budgeting like a pro, at home

Reported by: Sara Noel
Are you making a new budget? Now is a good time to start fresh and buckle down on your spending. Look over last year's numbers. Decide what worked and what didn't. Renew any frugal strategies that may have gone by the wayside, too. Refocus your frugal objectives, and identify wasteful areas by tracking your spending. Set monthly goals, such as completing projects or learning new skills. Make this year better than last.
Angela in Virginia writes: "We're cutting back on several extras this year, but some areas in which we've become lax and need to tighten back up would be:
NOT USING THE DRYER SO MUCH: I do have to use it at times during the winter because it's so rainy, but I have started throwing them in even when I could hang them out just because I'm lazy.
USING UP LEFTOVERS AND HAVING A PLAN FOR THEM: Too much food is being wasted and forgotten instead of used up or stored in the freezer for later.
GETTING THE ELECTRIC USAGE BACK DOWN: Part of this is my overuse of the dryer and hot water."Take a look at the following additional small leaks.
GIFTS: As a sanity saver, plan on any gifts now for the upcoming year. Waiting until the last minute is stressful, often causes overspending and decreases your frugal options. Start making any homemade gifts that you can. Say no to all the little extras that you think make a gift complete. It doesn't have to have fancy wrapping and bows. It doesn't need to look like it cost more by including add-ons. Many people are avoiding extravagance this year. Toning it down won't seem cheap.
EATING OUT: Set limits if you want to trim expenses. Check out cookbooks from the library to learn to copy the restaurant foods or snacks you enjoy. Work on building your pantry stockpile of staples that are bought when on sale. Visit to view a photo gallery with hundreds of photos of stocked pantries to gain inspiration. Grab a calendar, and start planning your meals.
PLAN A GARDEN: It can be as simple as ordering seeds or planning where you might plant. If it's your first garden, start small. You can organize your garden plans with a garden journal. Visit for a printable example you can put into a binder.
USE IT UP: Whether it's hobby supplies or food, use up what you already have before buying more.
AVOID FEES: Return borrowed items such as movie rentals or library books on time. Work on timely bill paying, too. Set them on auto pay if you can.
BUY USED: Start looking to secondhand markets to buy the things you need. You can find just about anything. Wear things out before buying brand-new. Think it's worn out? It might serve a second useful purpose.
CUT DOWN ON PLASTIC USE: Look for long-term reusable glass containers. Remember the old refrigerator glass dishes? They're making a comeback and for good reason. Say no to disposable containers when possible, such as using refillable cleaning products if you don't make your own. Do your homework on which refillable products are cost-effective. Bring your own canvas bag when shopping, too.
CURB IMPULSE BUYING: Create a wish list, and delay spending. Share your wish list with others. You can create wish lists online at Web sites such as,, and
DRINK WATER: Make an effort to drink more water and fewer alternative beverages such as fountain drinks, alcohol or coffee. While you're at it, a little extra fitness wouldn't hurt.
Sara Noel is the owner of Frugal Village (, a Web site that offers practical, money-saving strategies for everyday living. To send tips, comments or questions, write to Sara Noel, c/o United Media, 200 Madison Ave., 4th Floor, New York, NY 10016, or e-mail


  1. Great post!! I'm nothing if not thrifty (I prefer not to use the word "frugal" because it makes me sound like the miser that I truly am).

    Happy Valentine's Day

    Steady On
    Reggie Girl

  2. Excellent post! All great pieces of advice. Thank you!


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