How to Prepare for a Frugal 2024

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By the author of the FREE online course Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture

 

As 2023 draws to a close, I can only say, “Good riddance!” This has been a challenging year for me, with a difficult health issue that caused enormous financial hardship. So, as the year is about to turn the corner, I look forward to a healthier, better year and a frugal 2024. 

While I’m not much for New Year’s Resolutions, I do like to do a bit of a financial year-end review in December and set some goals for the coming year. I thought I would share some of what I do with the Frugalite community in the hopes that you might also share your own ideas and processes.

Reviewing My Monthly Budget

While I do keep track of my spending every month, I like to do a detailed review at the end of the year. So, I recently took out a piece of paper and wrote out everything I spend money on each month. This includes all bills, as well as spending on things like gas and food. I also tried to think ahead about seasonal items, like oil spraying my car or tire changeovers. 

I went through this list and gave consideration to each and every item. I asked myself, “How important is this item? Is it something I can cut?” As I already have a pretty pared-down budget, the answer on many items (like my taxes, my propane to heat my water) was, “No, this is needed this year.” I’m keeping my $ 20-a-month flip phone and my modest 11-year-old five-speed car, Lucky, which is already paid off. 

However, there were two items that I wondered if it would be more beneficial to cut them. For those two items, I am taking additional steps. 

Considering Expenses to Cut

There are two items that I am considering whether to cut or not: home internet and my extended health insurance. 

For the home internet, I gave some thought to how much I use it. I tried to imagine a week without it and how I would get around it. The only alternative for me would be to drive to a local library. I discussed with family members that I use the internet to keep in touch with what they thought about my not having it. After going through this process, I concluded that keeping this service for now is better, given how much I use it. However, I am planning to call my provider to request a better deal to see if there is any wiggle room in my rate. (If this is something you’ve considered cutting, here’s an article about it.)

Considering whether to keep my extended health care plan is a bit more complex. In order to make a decision here, I asked my dentist to generate a list of my usage since I started using the plan three years ago. I need to add up the monetary value of my dental coverage and subtract the 15% I still have to pay. How does this add up against the cost of this coverage, which has been going up and up for the past three years? 

I don’t get much use of the other benefits, as paying for services like a massage is too expensive when I only get $20 off per visit. Is it worth it to keep this coverage only for the dental benefit? 

The only other item offered is a small life insurance benefit. However, this seemed like a better perk when the cost was lower. I plan to get a quote to see what equivalent life insurance would cost if I just bought it as a standalone policy.  So, I have some homework to do on this decision over the next few weeks. I will also contact this provider and see if there is another plan that would suit me better.

Reviewing My Priorities for a Frugal 2024

Now that I have established my monthly budget: what will stay and what might go, I can reflect on my financial priorities for the year. For me, having just been through a year with some financial strain, I would like to build an emergency fund

My other priority is to pay down my debt. I have one small loan outstanding. As part of my year-end review, I looked up all the details of my contract and considered what would be best. As it is locked in at a rate lower than my line of credit, and the payment is reasonable, I will continue to pay this every month. It will be paid in two years. On the other hand, my line of credit is on a floating rate and could still go up. I am prioritizing paying this off. 

Setting My Savings Goal

With my priorities set, I looked at my projected earnings and set an achievable goal for saving towards my emergency fund each month: $150. As I’m paying interest on my line of credit, I will get my emergency fund to $1,000, and then I will use any and all extra cash each month to pay down the line of credit. 

Allowing for Some (Thrifty) Wiggle Room

I live a frugal life these days. However, I believe it’s important to enjoy some treats now and again. In the new year, I plan to treat a good friend to a pizza supper. We’ll get caught up over delicious pizza and support a local business at the same time. Win-Win. 

To me, a real luxury treat would be to buy a small bag of organic trail mix for less than $5. So, yes, I’ll buy that a few times this year. I’m craving some nice herbal teas for winter, so I plan to buy a couple of boxes to supplement my own collection of dried herbs from the homestead. I have everything I need in terms of clothing, winter clothing, and household goods. 

I recently bought a little Brown Betty teapot at our local thrift shop. It came with the most beautifully crocheted tea cozy that fits it perfectly….in the ugliest colors – a bright red and white. However, I love it dearly and have started having a cuppa every day. I decided to buy a collection of three nice tea cups and saucers for entertaining. My first one cost me $2 today at the thrift shop. So, that whole shopping process will entertain me and cost next to nothing. 

My local library just lent me the most recent Booker Prize-winning novel…for free! I am also listening to an amazing spiritual retreat – a six-hour podcast by one of my favorite teachers, through our digital library platform called Hoopla.

I feel fortunate that, as I face the new year, I already have everything that I need.

A Frugal Year Just Doesn’t Happen on Its Own

Frugality takes some planning. Could you see yourself trying any of the tips offered here to plan your frugal year? Do you have one you can share with us? Please tell us about your wins, losses, and goals in the comments section.

About Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, “Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture.” Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

Colette

Colette

Colette is passionate about sharing her knowledge of thrifty living and self-sufficiency. She has developed her skills in self-reliance living in the suburbs, the city, and more recently, on her own Half-Acre Homestead. Colette lived five years completely off-grid and without running water in an eight by 24 foot tiny home while designing and building her own 18 by 24-foot eco-cabin. Her website, Half Acre Homestead is attracting followers from around the world who want to become more self-sufficient.  Colette invites you to stop by the Homestead and check out all of the great resources including the practical How To Guides, A Tiny Home Resource Center and her organic gardening stories on her blog. She shares her wholistic model (body/mind/spirit) for achieving self-sufficiency in her Free Course, "Growing Self-Sufficiency: The Whole Picture." Stop by the Homestead today to register free of charge!

21 thoughts on “How to Prepare for a Frugal 2024”

  1. I applied for reduced price internet and was approved- takes 30.00 a month off the bill.
    Another idea is to sell, donate,trade items that you dont use for items you use a lot.
    You can have too many hobbies/interests that cost money and time and you may want to pare it down.
    Sometimes you have to take a pause and re evaluate/adjust your current plan if you are not getting the results you want

    1. Hi Liz, Congrats on achieving that reduction in your internet price! Wish me luck with mine. I love this idea to sell some stuff. I am going to post a few this week and see if I get any takers. I am finding the quieter time between Christmas and New Year’s to be quite enjoyable this year, and I am appreciating the time to reflect on the year to come. I wish you the best with your own frugal New Year, Liz! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with all of the Frugalites!

  2. I like this tradition, sounds like a helpful one! Maybe I’ll try to do some evaulation over the new year holiday. Could do me some good. A fresh start, even the illusion of one, can be so important.

    Regarding the tea cozy, are there compatible colors you could dye it that you like better? Something in the warm ranges – for example if you used yellow or orange dye it would darken the red but tint the white. Or you could use a warm brown if you like that better. If the cozy is cotton or wool you could even make natural dyes for free. Either way, drinking tea from fancy cups can be fun 🙂

    1. Hi Redbranch, I had not thought about dyeing my new tea cozy. I think that a warm brown could work…it might even end up matching the Brown Betty tea pot it covers. The cozy is truly so well crocheted that I could not give it up. I hope that the wool, which seems to be kind of polyester-like, will take the dye. The next time I drive to the city, I will definitely be buying some brown dye to try this out. Thanks for that idea.

      For myself, this illusion of turning the corner on the year is providing me with some comfort of a fresh start. Whether or not it’s “real” doesn’t seem to really matter. Psychologically, the thought of being in a new year already feels better. I wish you the best with your own evaluation. Wishing you a wonderful year in 2024!!!

  3. I have checked out my expenses and can only cut my expenditures on books a craft materials. Since I give the craft products as gifts that probably would not be great idea. However I do plan to reduce the number of books I buy, whether e-books or those used ones from the Friends of the Library. I have a number that I will probably enjoy reading again.
    I received an unexpected windfall this past year, much of which I gave to granddaughters who are using the gifts to make larger car payments (they both have to have cars to get to work). This will save them money on interest. They are both very good with money so it won’t be wasted. (Both bought their formals at thrift stores as well as much of their daily wardrobes.) I used more to add to my emergency fund.

    1. Hi Mary, Thanks so much for your comment, which is a great example of balancing priorities. Like you, I have cut back on the books I am buying. However, I am enjoying more than ever through our local library and the online library resource that is included with our library card, Hoopla. Congratulations on your windfall! With interest rates the way they are, your gift to your granddaughters is both generous and wise. I was delighted to read how thrifty they are at their age. That would definitely make me proud. Wishing you a frugal and wonderful year. Here’s hoping there’s another windfall around the corner, too.

  4. I took a look at all my expenses and had to get realistic. I have no car, mostly take the bus but spend a certain amount on cabs and Ubers. It needs to be a line item in my budget. I don’t like it but it’s the truth so I need to own up to it. I also have been spending, more than I need, on “junk” purchases at the grocery store. A once in a while treat has been upped to a more regular thing. A diet, which I need anyway, and a commitment to making goodies at home is my January goal. Thanks for this article.

    1. Hi Denise, I think a lot of Frugalites will be nodding their heads as they read your comment. I really appreciate your willingness to be honest, both with yourself, and with all of us. I think your comment will help a lot of people. It is easy for things to “sneak up” in our budget. An honest review, like the one you have done, is the key. Good for you with setting a January goal! I am going to follow you on the diet, which I also need anyways. I usually gain around 5 pounds around the Christmas season, and I don’t think this year was any different. My goal for January is to get this off! Wishing you a healthy and happy new year, Denise!

  5. Your dentist might provide a cash discount if you’re not using insurance. I’d assess your dental needs – crown(s)/replacements, filling(s) in the near future? Can you get coverage again after if you drop it this year but want it the next? If so, any waiting period on services?
    If you are supporting someone else financially, you may not need life insurance. BUT if you go shopping, term only. Level term for x number of years. Term is far cheaper than whole life, variable life, vanishing premium life, universal life and all the other “flavors” that pay your agent a good commission.

    1. Hi Selena, I’m finding the dental to be a difficult decision to make. I don’t have any immediate needs, but if something did come up, it could cost a lot. Another factor is that this dental is the super minimalist. I think it only covers fillings. It would never cover a crown or anything like a root canal. After reading your comment, I realize that I need to dig deeper into the policy before I make a decision. In terms of cash payments, my dentist has a neat policy that if you pay for the appointment ahead of time, you get a 10% discount off the total price.

      I do not know about any of the different types of life insurance. Thanks for helping me get clearer on this one: term only! Wishing you a happy and healthy new year, Selena!

      1. And sad to say some (maybe too many) life insurance agents like that you don’t know about the different types.
        I worked life, health (individual, Medicare supplement and small group), annuity, AD&D, and indemnity (tech side). Always happy to try to answer questions/concerns.

        1. Hi Selena, Oh, wow! I had guessed from your response before that you might have worked in the insurance industry, not imagining that you had worked in all of those. No wonder you knew all those names of insurance. Thank you so much for your kindness to respond with your comments. I am going to look into a stand alone (term!) policy and will post an update on my decisions in the new year. If I have any questions, I’ll post them at that time. Much appreciated. Happy New Year!!!!

  6. Colette, this is not particularly about planning a more frugal new year, but I did want to touch base with you. I started my chemo treatment seven days ago. It hasn’t been a joy ride, but it definitely could have been a lot worse (and it may get worse. I don’t know). My husband is looking at a pacemaker probably within the next few days. I have been so blessed by friends who have stepped up to help us this past week. Without them and our son we would have not made it.
    I would appreciate your prayers for us in the coming weeks. And I want to especially thank you for this article. The cheerful, positive tone really lifts my spirits. Life will not always be hospitals and IV tubes. There will come another day for quilting and gardening and other pleasant things. Thank you for reminding me of that.
    Best of wishes in the days ahead.
    God bless you my far away friend.
    Trish

    1. Dear Trish, I continue to pray for you daily! I knew that the holidays could be busy, so I had planned on emailing in the new year. Thinking of you, my far away friend, and God Bless You! I will send you an email in the next several days. Wishing you a happy and healthy new year, Trish. You are right: it won’t always be this way. I’m praying for a bright and healthy future for you after this challenge.

    2. Trish, When I had chemo, my oncologist only wanted me to take a multivitamin but no other supplements for fear that they would work against the chemo. So, I found the best multivitamin that I could at the time. Since then, studies have been done showing that taking vitamin C with the chemo works better than either one alone. You may want to consider it. Just FYI, I found the only thing that tasted sort of normal to me were olives. Someone I knew said pickles were what she could eat. Maybe it is the sour tastebuds that stay the same. May God bless you on your journey. Take time to visit with Him, especially if you can relax in nature because vitamin D (sunshine) is also supposed to help (if you are not taking the type of chemo where you have to stay out of the sunshine). Be blessed.

  7. I had already scheduled an appointment with my husband for this afternoon – have to do that or he’ll find some reason not to – to go over our budget/spending for 2024. There are so few areas we can reduce spending – food, electric and misc – but with the record keeping I did this year, it’s obvious where savings will be. I would be lost without Internet but we got in on the $45/month for life with Comcast. I also use the free sites of Tubi, Crackle, & Hoopla & Kanopy thru the library. We are on my son’s Amazon account & use it for Prime Video & shopping – that shopping part needs to be curtailed especially the Outlet & Warehouse deals, We also subscribe to WM+ and use it for home delivery – boy, staying out of the store saves us a bundle!! And medical – we’re in our late 70s: hubby is with the VA thank goodness as his latest medical issue has been over $100,000 just since late August and I have a Medicare Advantage plan but other than regular checkups have no real medical issues. Our car will be paid off in July and that payment will be going into the home maintenance account. For those of you who are in your 40s NOW is the time to get your finances and health in order – it cannot be a catch-up game. You do not want to be struggling in your retirement years.

    1. Hi Bellen, That is so kind of you to give a warning to those in the their 40’s. I pray that they will LISTEN AND LEARN from your comment and those from others on this topic. My goodness, I wish I could in on Comcast. I am hoping that, when I threaten to quit, they will have a discount for me. They just seem to be raising it and raising it almost every month. Being in a rural area, it would be a real hardship to not have any internet at home. However, I would do what I can without it. They are kind at our local libraries that they leave the wifi on at all hours. If I was in dire need, I could cancel my internet and do my family visits on my laptop in my car in the parking lot after hours. Not ideal, but the expense is quite high.

      I hope your budget meeting goes well with your husband. I think being on the same page is so important. Working together, two people can really accomplish a lot, I feel! I was very glad to hear that you both have good medical coverage. How exciting that your car will be paid off in July. That will truly be something to celebrate. Wishing you a healthy and happy new year, Bellen!

  8. Thank you for your article. Like others have mentioned, I save money by ordering groceries online through local store & picking up. I still have plenty to cut in that area though. I got a little crazy last night finding the ‘right’ planner/guide for getting affairs in order, something I’ve been ‘meaning to do’ for far too long, and I NEED to take care of for my father as well. Reining in pet expenses is a MUST for me as well. I retired this summer, and have been struggling to get a concrete budget on paper, such a continual issue for me. This has given me impetus to get on it!

    1. Hi Kelley, I am so glad to hear that you found the article helpful. I have found that there is nothing like writing the budget down and tracking it every month. I generally do a mid-month review, as well. I don’t find this to be a negative experience, rather, I find that it helps me be in touch with my financial plans and give myself encouragement to reach for my goals. For organizing myself, I buy small blank spiral notebooks with a hard cover at the dollar store. They are lined, around half the size of a standard sheet of paper. I write my daily to do lists and goals in my notebook, I do budget plans and review my budget in the notebook, and any brainstorming I need to do. I find these notebooks are great and now couldn’t see myself living without one. I like that it will fit in my purse if I need to take my shopping list into the store with me. Wishing you the best with organizing your budget, Kelley. I know you can do it and you will feel great when you find some areas for saving! Wishing you a happy and healthy new year, too!

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