Net advice on how to make frugality pay
The internet is full of websites, Twitter feeds and Facebook accounts dedicated to helping you to get the most out of life while spending as little as possible and investing well, writes KEVIN CASEY
BETH M IS ON a mission to save money and eat well. Under the slogan “My Stomach is Full, My Wallet is Too”, her Budget Bytes food blog ( budgetbytes.blogspot.com) is bursting with fresh, flavoursome food, home-cooked with rather precise costings.
Most blogs are born of passion or necessity. Beth likes to eat, but she’s broke, so her blog has both. She crunches the numbers down to the last shake of salt (2c) with the overall aim of eating for a day on less than most people spend on lunch.
The ingredients are not fancy – most should be available at a convenience store or supermarket – and of course, the costings will vary but at a time when every little bit helps, the purpose of counting the pennies so diligently is to act more as a reference point.
Although budgets are driving this blog, the food is the thing and Budget Bytes helps to inject a bit of creative flair into those low-key staples lining your cupboard.
Perhaps the best introduction is to visit the Pinterest ( pinterest.com/budgetbytes) site and feast your eyes on the array of delicious meals. With no beans on toast anywhere to be seen, try kale and chickpea soup, balsamic beef kebabs or honey spice chicken thighs.
If that sounds rather exotic, Beth has ideas for baking your oatmeal into banana-flavoured biscuits and a very tempting recipe for lemon blueberry scones.
If you can’t get the freshest organic ingredients from a farmer’s market, it doesn’t really matter to Budget Bytes, the frozen variety will do. There are sections on how to stock your kitchen with spices and the blog is peppered (if you’ll forgive the pun) with sound financial advice.
Next to rent, the mortgage and the car, food is probably the biggest bill but it’s one of the easiest to reduce and you don’t have to sacrifice taste as you jettison your expenses.
Updating several times a week, Budget Bytes provides step-by-step instructions illustrated with photos to bring the recipe to life in a jiffy and the blog does the simple things well, like integrating Facebook and Twitter feeds and providing one-click PDF recipe downloads for printing and sorting.
With her culinary roots in scrumptious New Orleans, the world cuisine of Beth M’s Budget Bytes is bound to tickle your fancy at some point. Budget Bytes has a growing audience. After all, there’s no shame in being broke these days.
Many of us still have an awful lot to learn about personal finance. It’s not a subject that’s taught in any depth and although there is much folklore about minding the pennies and not counting chickens, it’s a more complex world nowadays than when those bon mots were framed.
Most good proverbs hold true for the ages but they originate from a different world. What is needed is good practical advice for the times we live in, with its highly structured credit, consumerism, shrinking incomes, debt and investments.
Being caught in the grip of financial woes is a painful experience. When he was at his lowest point, the author of the Get Rich Slowly blog ( getrichslowly.org), JD Roth realised he needed to dig up, not down. He began reading self-help and financial planning books, feeling for solutions and sharing what he had learned.
It worked, and he crawled his way out of debt. Now, with its tortoise logo, Get Rich Slowly is one of the web’s top personal finance blogs, garnering Roth an award as one of Time magazine’s Top 25 blogs last year and even getting him hired to write for that publisher’s personal finance pages.
Roth discovered that most people don’t get rich overnight, but as the title suggests, over the long term, with the right approach, most people can get rich/achieve financial independence slowly.
The key ingredient is patience. The Get Rich Slowly blog offers well researched and actionable information about everything from getting out of crippling debt to how much to tip for service.
With a broad range of topics such as “What matters in matters of love and finance”, posts on “Frugality and financial independence” and guest writers promising to reveal “The real secret to making money by following your passion”, Get Rich Slowly has evolved into one of the web’s most important personal finance blogs.
It adopts a strategic view on personal finance and shows you which direction to head in. A lot of the information is specific to the American market but when Roth points out that “When we overspend we’re making mental mistakes, not math mistakes”, it’s thought-provoking and sets the ball rolling in the right direction.
For more tactical help, the Wisebread blog at Wisebread.comoffers myriad ways to save pennies every day on your quest to develop a fruitful yet frugal lifestyle.
A group blog with a number of contributors, Wisebread offers frugal advice on everything from cocktail recipes to rolling your own washing powder, green living, job-seeking and how to stretch out the clothes in your wardrobe so that they last throughout the season.
Whatever your financial goals are, if you want to pay down a loan, start a company, get a grip on your spending or free up money for other things, then Wisebread is full of tips on how to do it and is constantly updated. There are lots of things to learn about, including gardening, sewing, DIY, haggling and car maintenance.
For the interactively inclined, Wisebread runs Twitter chats, a Facebook page and email updates to cycle through the tips on a daily basis.
If you think you’ve got your machine tuned up and you’re running lean enough to generate a small surplus, you may like to turn your attention to savings and investments. The Simple Dollar specialises in “financial talk for the rest of us” ( thesimpledollar.com).
The blog discusses a range of topics from financial planning to insurance and retirement. It seems obvious when author Trent Hamm says “spend less than you make” but the free ebook outlines ways to build a cash-positive financial lifestyle.
If you like your financial prescriptions combined with a little celebrity and fashion, then savvysugar.comis the way to have it all. Aimed more at younger people, it has a lot of advice on discount fashion, travel, education and careers, with a slideshow of Hollywood A-listers never far away in the sidebar.
It may seem superficial, but being cute about money doesn’t have to be a bland pursuit all the time.
Savvysugar has handy tips such as shaving the bobbles off your old woollen clothes alongside pictures of the fashion extravaganza at the Emmys, top must-have millionaire habits as well as a list of apps that will save you money at the supermarket.
While by no means exhaustive, the articles are informative and topics such as 10 Things You Shouldn’t Ask a Pregnant Co-worker may come in useful some day in unexpected ways.
Billionaires are not known for their frugality but who could argue with this advice from celebrity billionaire Mark Cuban on savvysugar.com:
“I tell everyone the same thing. Pay off 100 per cent of your debt. Use the transactional value of cash to get an absolute return on your savings (buying something in bulk to save 40 per cent on something you know you need is a guaranteed return of 40 per cent. You can’t get that anywhere in the market). And don’t invest in things you don’t know.”
Frugality is the mental approach you take to deciding how to allocate your resources. The actual approach will vary from person to person. It’s by no means a sign of desperation, but a positive approach to financial independence. Once you get your head in the game, you can raise frugality to an art form.
Following a diverse range of inputs from all over the world sharpens your instincts. The worldwide web is a deep well of inspiration in frugality as in all things. Weigh the price of everything and learn by drilling the tactics.
Using the self-help approach, you will quickly become aware the second someone is trying to sell you a service or product so that you don’t go down that route. The important thing is to study the useful habits of thrift, take them on board and adapt them to your own circumstances.
5 FRUGAL PROVERBS
By sowing frugality we reap liberty, a golden harvest – Agesilaus
Frugality may be termed the daughter of Prudence, the sister of Temperance, and the parent of Liberty – Samuel Johnson
He who does not economise will have to agonise – Confucius
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship – Benjamin Franklin
With parsimony a little is sufficient; without it nothing is sufficient; but frugality makes a poor man rich. – Seneca
10 FRUGAL TWITTER ACCOUNTS
Useful thoughts, ideas and tips for seriously frugal living. Take what you like and leave the rest.
Tweet:Old credit, debit and bonus cards can be cut into guitar picks. # Frugal
Questions and answers to your money, investing, retirement and savings questions. Giving you tips, advice, and articles to help you find financial freedom.moneyqanda.com
Tweet: Five Sneaky Ways To Save Hundreds When Selling Your Car
A dad who cares about budgeting, investing, saving and finding freedom through frugality. frugalrules.com
Tweet: What the Government Teaches About Living Without a Budget
My stomach is full and my wallet is too. budgetbytes.blogspot.com
Tweet: Can’t get enough of the shrimp and rice salad! #nom
Personal finance and frugal living portal. wisebread.com
Tweet: Have you ever considered making money by renting out part of your home short-term to tourists?
Get Rich Slowly, personal finance that makes sense. See getrichslowly.org
Tweet: Riding a bike is cheaper as you don’t have to pay for gas or car tune-ups, but don’t forget that a bike needs repairs too.
Practical money-saving advice for everyday living. Personal finance, travel and leisure, frugal living, DIY Tips and more . . . thefrugaltoad.com
Tweet: A Guide to Frugal Classroom Activities for Teachers
How can I make your life better? Trent Hamm, the 32-year-old father of three, author of The Simple Dollar and 365 Ways to Live Cheap. thesimpledollar.com
Tweet: I just got accused of damaging the US economy by encouraging people to be frugal and entrepreneurial iti.ms/RFPf25
It makes sense.
Tweet: Budget-friendly night-in idea: throw an adult sleepover!
Our mission is to empower you to live your richest life, by providing trusted, unbiased resources to help you take control of your finances. learnvest.com
Tweet: Always put your extra change in a jar, and use it to treat yourself when you accomplish a financial goal.