A stopover will give you more time to experience a country without changing any of your cost. Look for cities that offer free, or cheap, stopovers for certain amounts of time. This is like having a connecting flight but instead of 90 minutes you can have a day or two and can see more of the city you’re in. A few cities great for doing stopovers are:
I know I’m a bit more extreme on this than most. Living in a northern climate (in the Northern Hemisphere) allows me the luxury of rarely using air conditioning. The winters are another story. I have found that my entire family can enjoy a cooler house in the winter comfortably (low 60s F). Yes, we wear clothing in the winter, as in a flannel shirt or other such comfy warm garment. The wife and kiddos cover with a blanker when watching TV (me when I read). The cooler house means we sleep better at night, too. During the summer we adjust to the warmer temperatures. When it gets hot in July we draw cool basement air into the house. Rare is the year when we kick on the AC. (I actually have a geothermal heat pump for space heating, water heating and AC.)
It doesn’t get any more “farm fresh” than your local farmers market—the best place to shop for whole foods. Typically you’ll find organic and heirloom produce harvested at the peak of their flavor and nutrition, and hormone-free meat, dairy, and eggs—directly from growers and producers. Shopping straight from the source saves money and supports small family farms. Now that’s sustainability all around.
To supplement fresh foods from the farmers market, Thrive Market has all the organic, non-GMO pantry staples, snacks, and condiments you need to curate a healthy life for you and yours—and everything is 25 to 50 percent off retail prices.
It is well known that I sin when it comes to buying books. I love owning books. It is my one non-frugal habit. However, several local libraries still know me on a first name basis. Some books I borrow from the library. But the library is so much more than books, books on tape, music and so forth. I encourage you to read this post on all the surprising things you can get for free from the library. (Did you know your library might offer free college courses, tutoring and more? Some libraries have fishing equipment and one I interviewed even had a sewing machine they borrowed out.)
Home is where the health is! Cooking at home is probably one of the top things you can do to trim the fat from your food budget. Restaurant and fast-food meals really add up, and they’re often high in sugar and unhealthy fats. At home, you’ll always know exactly what’s in your food.
One of the most frugal things you can do is give yourself down time. Bill Gates has a “think week” several times per year. Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs both scheduled “no time” where they had no duties or interruptions so they could focus on just thinking creatively. While it might be hard to understand how down time is a frugal activity, it is time where you are not spending money and instead are focused on making good decisions in your life, finances and business. Creativity happens during down time. When I write I close the door. This is “me time”. I’m actually talking to myself and letting you listen in. Time spent with the door closed and the internet and email off is vital to mental wellbeing and financial wealth. Your best ideas will come from the quiet time where distractions are not demanding your attention.
If you map out your meals for the week ahead, you give yourself an edge in staying healthy and being aware of your budget. You’re thinking about ingredients, shopping specifically, and keeping yourself on track for eating smart rather than succumbing to the instant gratification of fast foods and snacks.
Along the same line as down time, writing notes, a journal, a blog, a to-do list and any other things you want to think about later during down time is important to a frugal lifestyle. Frugality is not only about money. You can always make more money, but you can’t make up for lost time! Slowing down and writing notes is the best way to reduce expenses! You are not buying the best goods and services when you are fighting the clock. Notes allow you to slow down and make better decisions. I can give you a million ways to reduce costs, but only you know what things you can reasonably cuts costs on. The goal of this post is to provide ideas and spark ideas in your mind. Don’t just do it because some crazy accountant from the backwoods of NE Wisconsin told you to do so. Write it down. Record your thoughts in a journal and review those thoughts later. Use a grocery list. You will be amazed at how your thoughts change and the money you save. And always be willing to revise. Editing your notes and lists is required. The first draft is always junk. That is why you need to review and edit, preferably with the door closed.
Before shopping, make a list of everything you need and follow it to a T. This intentional tunnel vision will prevent impulse buys and keep you focused on making healthy choices. Also, don’t shop on an empty stomach. Greasy potato chips can look mighty good when you’re starving.