-- intro: "Cheap" is usually considered an offensive term, but could frugality be the best thing for your finances? It's a good idea for everyone to have a budget and be aware of their spending habits, but going that extra step to becoming frugal can improve more than your financial well-being. We all know that cutting back can pay off, but being frugal comes with its own gifts. Here are some of them.
quicklist: 1 title: Less Interest text:
Being cheap can lead to savings that really add up like by avoiding paying interest. For example, consider how much interest you pay each time you make a mortgage loan payment. By saving up money ahead of time, you can avoid borrowing money and therefore paying interest. For most people this may be hard for a major purchase like a home, but by waiting or by choosing a less-expensive home, you can borrow less and save money on interest.
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The same concept holds true for credit cards and student loans. The more you pay for in cash, upfront, the less money you have to borrow. Even if you use your credit card to make purchases, if you can pay off the balance each month, you can avoid paying interest.
Taking good care of your credit is another way to pay less for credit when you do use it. The better your credit score, generally, the lower your interest rates. You can monitor your credit scores using a free service like Credit.com, where you can also get a plan to build your credit.
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If you time your meals and cocktail outings around restaurant specials and happy hour deals, you will never even pay full price for a great experience dining out or grabbing drinks with friends. This doesn't mean you have to deprive yourself of visiting your favorite places; it just requires paying attention to your scheduling. If your favorite place has a special on Wednesday nights, you can arrange to go then, have fun and spend less.
Cutting coupons and scoping out deals for toiletries, groceries and clothing can make a difference in your budget. By being aware of sales, you can still shop but avoid paying full price.
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Another way being cheap can save you money is if you don't buy things. This applies, of course, to anything you are going to spend money on. For example, by borrowing books, music and movies from the library, you don't have to buy them. You can also save money by holding clothes exchanges with friends for new-to-you outfits.
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Being frugal almost always equates to a greater appreciation of money and valuables. Since you usually opt out of expensive experiences and costly items, you enjoy them that much more when you decide to indulge.
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Being cheap can make you more creative. If you have a birthday party, wedding or other celebration that you are invited to, you can still attend and give a great gift. You just have to get creative … and often this can result in a more thoughtful, better gift that will be remembered.
quicklist: 6 title: Recognizing Value text:
Furthermore, you really know the value of money -- being economical allows you to really learn what a dollar is worth. You are aware that every dollar saved is a dollar more you can use for paying off debt or a dollar more for your savings, vacation or your retirement fund. This can help you avoid impulse purchases and unnecessary splurging.
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Since you are likely hunting for the best price on every purchase, you know how to negotiate and haggle your way in the world. Being cheap also teaches you to manipulate a budget and have a stick-to-your-guns mentality that comes in handy in various aspects in life, from your career to love. Learning to prioritize and track your accomplishments is similarly beneficial.
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Seeing the money you save and the lessons you learn may help you think twice about your habits. Whichever changes you decide to integrate into your budget, be sure it works to keep you happy and financially healthy. Just maybe, next time your friends, family or co-workers call you cheap, you'll consider it a compliment.