Living the Good Life Without Spending A Dime

February 7, 2012  |  

Saving money is difficult; and many of us fail miserably once we run past that perfect pair of shoes or a moment of hunger somehow leads to an unplanned $20 meal at a restaurant that reoccurs next week…and the next. If you find yourself continuously making small financial mistakes that show up big time in your bank account at the end of the month, you may want to look to Natalie P. McNeal for help. Forbes details that this blogger and author of “The Frugalista Files: How One Woman Got Out of Debt Without Giving Up The Fabulous Life,” is on her fifth annual No-Buy Month, and this February you may want to join her.  McNeal’s project started in 2008 and has gained national media attention and sparked a mini social media movement when, thanks to her frugal efforts, she was able to leave $20,000 worth of debt in the past.

McNeal uses the month of February to stay away from any and all non-essential purchases–basically, if it’s not a bill or the grocery shopping necessities, it doesn’t get bought. Although she admits that the first year was difficult, she loved seeing her bank account “stabilize,” and has developed a solid financial discipline and believes the month helps her stay focused.

Spending money every day really isn’t necessary according to McNeal, but for those of you who have a harder time cutting back, she recommends you start with a No-Buy Week. “Even if you slip up a little, at least you tried,” she said to Forbes.

One of the biggest and hardest cuts McNeal recommends you must make during the month is eating out.

“You really have to be good at choreography to prepare three meals a day,” she said. “You have to remember to thaw out the meat. You have to be sure your home is stocked with what you want to cook. It’s so easy to just pick up something. I will say that the more I cook at home, the more I manage my weight.”

Although it may seem like a hassle at first, eating-in will definitely save you money. Forbes reports that households spend about $2500 annually on restaurant meals.

Being frugal doesn’t have to be about giving up your life. McNeal is still all-about living the fabulous life and stresses that you must stay social.

“To do No-Buy Month properly, you must have fun,” she tells Forbes. “Go to the library and check out a DVD. Go to the local college and see a speech. Visit a museum on its free day. Go to a nightclub during the Ladies Get In Free period. Live life!”

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