My frugal drive has fallen to pieces since the start of 2012. By the standards of most people I've not gone crazy with my spending, but I'm not happy with it myself. My problem has always been Frittering; spending a pound (or two, or three...) on bits and pieces that I don't really need or want. It's all built up little by little and really it's not the amount I've spent that's the issue for me (I've not over spent or made myself skint), it's the attitude, the habit. Last year I got really good at saying 'No' to myself and what a difference it made. My resistance to spending on silly little things increased dramatically. On the other hand it got to the point where, at times, I felt like I was really missing out and living pretty shabbily. So I suppose the point of all this really is that I've learnt that I need to find a balance between wasting money and spending nothing at all. I want to find the sweet spot where I don't fritter money away but where I also don't feel like I'm depriving myself of all the fun. When I was being full on frugal I felt guilty over little things I love like a cup of coffee and a cake in my favourite cake shop at a weekend, a new lipstick or some yarn. Lately I've enjoyed myself more and not felt guilty about it but at the same time I've not felt fully in control of my spending, and there have been plenty of times in the past two months where I've definitely wasted money that I could have done with using for something else.
So here's my plan:
1) I'll go back to writing down everything I spend. Knowing that it would have to go in the book made a big difference to my spending last year.
2) Re-assess my overall budget to update myself on what I have and where it goes.
3) Open a long put off savings account for a mortgage; it's a long, long way off given our financial situation, but a house of our own is something me and Mr CB both long for. I'll be sure to have the money transferred to savings just after I get paid too - if it's not in my everyday account I won't be able to spend it.
4) Household inventory; last year I went through groceries, toiletries, clothes and craft stuff to get an idea of what I had already. At the time I discovered food cupboard and frozen groceries to make 13 meals and enough stashed toiletries to last for months, not to mention yarn I didn't even know I had. Looking at the clutter in my house I think it could be similar this time too.
5) Avoid cheap chain stores. Too much temptation to buy something cheaply made for instant gratification only to find it falling apart after a few wears. So I think I need to get into the mind set of I either buy it from a charity shop (which also has the advantage of the thrill of the hunt and money going to a good cause) or save up for a good quality version.
That's a good start for the thrifty side of things but I think I'm going to have to work on my attitude towards money in general in order to find the balance - not to worry about it all the time and miss out on things I love doing but not to waste it.
Have you got any favourite frugal tips? Or advice on striking the balance? I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, it's something I'm interested in and I find a lot of inspiration for beautiful but thrifty living on people's blogs.