Frugal living doesn’t mean living with no luxuries at all. It doesn’t mean eating Ramen noodles every night or reading books by candlelight (unless you want to, of course!). To live frugally means to spend with intention, to make every penny count toward an item or service you need.

Unfortunately, if you’re mired in debt, good financial health may seem unattainable. It’s difficult to come back from credit card debt but when you put effort into living frugally, you’ll see the savings pile up and debt dwindle down.

There are several strategies to employ to help live within your means so you can work toward rebuilding a strong financial presence.

  1. First, Change Your Attitude.Just like with every other goal, whether it’s exercise, nutrition or working toward a degree, an adjustment in attitude is often necessary. How badly do you want to cut down on debt and have the ability to buy what you need – and what you want? How important is it for you to pass on good financial habits to your children, who are habit sponges, and will emulate your financial attitude? Before making any real income or expense adjustments, remind yourself why you’re implementing them in the first place.
  2. Don’t Overpay.In a world of convenience, it’s easy to overpay for items when you don’t need to. Fast food is the perfect example of this, and is a category that can be cut down or eliminated from your life in your efforts toward a fresh start. Others include:
  • Asking for discounts. There are often discounts available to AAA members, seniors, students and the military. If you’re unsure, it never hurts to ask!
  • Find cheap car insurance quotes to cut down on your car insurance bill. With a bit of research, you can easily save money and get the proper coverage for you and your family.
  • Reuse, recycle and repair. Just because something is old doesn’t mean it must be replaced. Buy things second hand at thrift stores and learn how to repair items that are broken with the help of internet resources.
  1. Plan Your Meals.Although it might seem like a drag, meal planning doesn’t have to be. If you are truly looking for a fresh start, now is as good a time as any to add some different dishes into your repertoire. Have you always wanted to try vegan? Maybe try your hand at whipping up your own Chinese meals? Whatever the case may be, planning ahead, finding recipes and sticking to your grocery list will help you live within your means.
  2. Don’t Forget Your Pantry.Most people love the idea of having a stocked pantry. But, if it’s always stocked, when do you actually save money? You don’t, you simply have an endless supply of food going out and coming in. If you’re looking to live more frugally, keep your leftovers and use them. Also, make a list of items in your pantry and deep freezer that can be used for lunches and dinners.
  3. Pay Cash for Everything.It’s easy to swipe a credit card and call it a day. It’s more difficult to have a set amount of money in your wallet and limit yourself to spending onlythat much. Living frugally means plugging all of the leaks, and credit is a huge leak that bursts some people’s credit dam entirely. Don’t let yourself spiral out of credit card control – pay cash for everything and you might just discover what you’ve been buying that you don’t really need.
  4. Ditch the Cable.With so many streaming services available at little to no cost it’s money out the window when you continue to pay for cable. If it feels like a luxury you absolutely can’t give up, write down the channels you love and then see if you can find them on free (or low cost) streaming channels, you might be surprised at the results! Cutting the cable cord (not literally, of course!) could save you upwards of $1,000 or more a year.
  5. Make Handmade Gifts.Holidays like Christmas and Hanukah can make someone with good frugality intentions quiver in fear. The number of gifts, decorations, feasting and everything else involved can amount to one of the biggest annual expenditures. If you’re not sure what to make, look for ideas on Pinterest, Etsy and YouTube for creative ideas.
  6. Use Less Electricity.Just like everything else, utility bills are on the rise. Taking steps to cut back on electricity use is not only good for your pocketbook; it’s also good for the environment.
  • Take shorter and cooler showers
  • Turn up the air conditioning and turn down the heat
  • Wash clothes in cold water
  • Turn lights off when you leave a room
  • Swap out incandescent light bulbs for LED

Are you ready to change your financial life for the better? When you start looking for ways to save money, you’ll see opportunities everywhere. It’s entirely possible to take control of your money instead of letting it control you.