smart spending

10 ways to make frugality fun

  • Set manageable goals, such as paying off one credit card at a time.
  • When you achieve a milestone, celebrate by rewarding yourself.
  • Share your goals with a money buddy who can help you stay motivated.

The same way we can start a diet with good intentions only to be eating a Snickers bar by lunchtime, stresses and pressures can wear away at our resolve to stick to our budgets. But easing up on frugal efforts can have unhappy consequences, especially in this economy.

Here, 10 tips for staying motivated to watch your pennies over the long term.

1. Don't set goals too high.

Instead, start with a series of smaller goals. Ellie Kay, the author of "Living Rich for Less," says, "Instead of saying you're going to pay off all your consumer debt, start with your Visa that has a $1,500 balance."

2. Know why you're doing it.

Gary Foreman, editor of The Dollar Stretcher e-newsletter and Web site, says, "The idea behind frugality is that we can live better if we're not in debt. If all you see is deprivation, it's going to be hard to reach your goal." By prioritizing what's important to you, you can cut the things that don't matter to you and spend money on the things that do.

3. Acknowledge the mile markers.

Celebrate when you achieve a milestone. "I call it a 'yay, me!' moment," Foreman says. Keep an accomplishment list as a reminder.

4. Know your motivational style.

"Some people are motivated by a pat on the back. All they need is an encouraging word," Foreman says. "Other people need something more tangible. They may need that dinner out or an outfit they wanted to buy." Reward yourself with whatever motivates you best.

5. Have a built-in splurge.

"People fall off the wagon because it's just too hard," says Kay. "They don't see a payback. Rather than feeling deprived, build in a splurge to your budget.

For example, budget $100 per month to do whatever you want. You can save it for six months and buy Jimmy Choo shoes you don't really need, but that's far better than to fall off the wagon and charge those shoes."



6. Make a plan for the hardest challenges.

Leah Ingram, the author of "Suddenly Frugal: How to Live Happier and Healthier for Less," says the key to her success in changing her spending habits is "having the systems in place." One of her biggest budget-busters was eating out, so she developed a system of meal planning that made it almost as easy to cook at home as to go out.


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