Frugal Changes You Don't Want to Make — But Can

by Anna Newell Jones on 20 August 2012 11 comments

We all know there are frugal changes we should be making but just don't want to. Some require just a little too much forethought, a little too much sacrifice, and let's be honest — they are just a little too inconvenient.

After the initial hump of discomfort, these frugal changes can easily become a part of your daily life. (See also: 5 Dreams You Won't Achieve Unless You Live Below Your Means)

1. Take the Internet Off Your Phone

It's very expensive to constantly be tapped in. My phone bill skyrocketed (up $60) when I decided to add the internet to my phone. Efficiency books and websites suggest focusing on one thing at a time, so by removing the internet you get the dual benefit of being more efficient and saving money.

2. Let Your Hair Be Its Natural Color

For the longest time I fought this one because my mousy, slightly ashy brown locks just couldn't compete with the blond I craved to be. Every four to six weeks my dark roots would pop out and beg for a cover-up. I finally convinced myself to go three shades darker than I usually did. While it's taken a very long time to get used to the darker color, I love it when I realize how much time and money I've been able to save by doing something as simple as switching to a more natural hair color. My current 'do is going on its fourth month, and roots are no where to be seen; this could never have happened if I was still a faux blond.

3. Carry a Water Bottle

Stash a reusable, BPA-free water bottle in your bag and fill it up at the water fountain when it starts to run low. Not only will you save money by foregoing store-purchased bottled water, you'll also be helping the environment and keeping yourself healthy and hydrated.

4. Turn Down the Invitation

This is a tough one. It's hard to admit that you can't (or shouldn't) do something that you know you can't afford. After all, no one wants to be a Debbie Downer. Politely decline the invite or offer up a less-expensive alternative, if appropriate.

5. Stop Buying New Clothes

This is another painful one to consider, but it's surprisingly freeing once it's implemented. If you're anything like me, you get sucked into the new season's trends and spend a lot of time looking at clothes and items online. When I was in full spending fast mode, I was shocked to see how much extra time I had on my hands. I rethought my wardrobe, dyed my cotton clothes with RIT dye to refresh them, and planned clothing and accessories swaps with friends to get new-to-me clothes and accessories. An unexpected benefit of the swaps was that it provided a fun, free, and unique reason to get together with friends.

Is there a frugal change you know you should be making but just can't get yourself to do?

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Guest's picture

I'd add one more if I may: plan your car trips.

Years ago, we bought a gas guzzler because it was dirt cheap and close to new. We figured the extra gas money would balance the savings of the purchase price. And then we figured we can really save money by just being a little more careful with our driving. It involved saying no to invitations involving mucho miles, picking spots to eat out that were closer to home, being intentional about when we do those quick trips to the grocery store, and being careful about when driving to the same place in two cars, for whatever reason.

We cut our gas bill by close to $50 a month (this was in Southern California where everyone drives before they even breathe). And here's the thing: we weren't even that anal about it. Just considering the miles makes a difference...

Guest's picture
Nancy

I've stopped coloring my hair and let it go grayish (sigh). I've scaled back clothes shopping, but I still by a few classic pieces new (on sale). I've cancelled the data plan on my cell phone. I've put a filter under my kitchen sink and never buy bottled water anymore. One frugal change I'm prepared to make but holding in reserve is replacing our second car with a bike and public transportation. If I've done my math right, that could save us a minimum of $116 a month.

Guest's picture
Edward

Agreed!! The Internet phone data plans are a ripoff. That's all there is to it. The only people who need them are those who feel the need to tweet their friends every 10 minutes. If I ever need to use the Internet, there's always a coffee shop somewhere nearby with free wi-fi. So, even if that's only twice a month, it's $4 in coffee as opposed to $20-30 in phone charges.

I've spoken to people and asked how often they used their data plan. Most say, "never", but they still feel the need to keep it. ...Plus I can interact with Twitter, Facebook, and e-mail through text messaging, so why would I need the Internet?

Guest's picture
MidSouth Mouth

Re: Edward. Facebook and twitter offer the ability to text what you would have gone on the web to say :). This is a tip that can help if you don't have to have a data plan for your phone; for instance, AT&T requires that Blackberry users buy a data plan :(

Guest's picture
philosophotarian

The data plan on my phone only costs me $5. I keep thinking about getting rid of internet at home--that's 30/month, and I could just walk to the university and get internet for free. It is handy to have it at home: sometimes it does make research, writing, and editing easier, but I waste a lot of time online, too.

Guest's picture
Guest

isn't it unsanitary to refill from the fountain?

Guest's picture
Guest

Not if you get a water bottle with a filter. I just bought a brita water bottle that has a filter in it because I was tired of buying bottled water but the tap water at my house tasted terrible. The bottle was about 8 bucks with a filter already included, and there replacement filters are about 6 bucks, but you only have to buy one about every 2 months depending on usage. I'm never buying bottled water again.

Guest's picture

This is a great post, Anna. We get caught up in so much complex money stuff- but seriously, one of the best ways to do well financally is to save some money-- and time!

Guest's picture

As a twenty-something, its incredibly hard to resist going shopping. But when I know I'd rather spend my money on other things (like groceries and a car payment) I find other ways to get new clothes. I take name brand clothes I don't wear anymore into stores that give you some cash for gently used items, and then look around for shirts and jeans that cost a fraction of the price they would in they're actual store. Or, every year my friends and I hold a clothing swap party like you mentioned where we can trade clothes we are sick of, for other items that they're sick of after a while.

Guest's picture

Great article! I always convience myself, especially at the onset of the football season that paying an exhobinant amount for cable is 100 percent necessary. Even worse, I convience myself that at least once every other week that I need to hit sports bar and drop $30-40 to watch the same game I can watch from the comfort of my own home.

Guest's picture
Juli

As a 40 something, skipping the coloring of my hair is not an option for me. Way too much grey! I went from highlighting to an all-over color plus highlighting. I even added some wispy bangs to my hairstyle. While my hair costs have increased, Botox would be more expensive. I had it done once for my 11's, and it cost over $600. EEK!

I cut down on shopping costs by buying a lot of my clothes on ebay. Much cheaper that way.