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Frugal Habits[Staff writer Stefanie O’Connell is back with another great post.  Things time she’s sharing about her fugal habits.]

Frugality is a lifestyle; it’s a series of conscious spending choices, which practiced with enough frequency, become habitual and at least somewhat impervious to the many temptations of the outside world.

I’ve found that some of my frugal lifestyle habits are so ingrained, I’m actually caught off guard when I’m in the presence of someone who doesn’t practice a similarly frugal approach.

Here are just six of the automatic behaviors I employ in the day to day to ensure that my spending stays under control…

1. Research Everything. While I’m surprisingly not an extreme couponer, I rarely buy anything without comparison shopping online or at least doing a quick Google search for a special or promo code first. While coming up empty handed on the discount front won’t necessarily prevent me from buying something, I find that thirty seconds of my time is always worth the possibility for savings.

2. Reassess. Every so often I’ll take a look at my recurring expenses to see if there’s a better or cheaper option. When New York City’s bike share program launched last summer, I joined and saved over $300 in commuting costs for the year. Just the other day I was looking into lower cost options on prescription refills; I couldn’t stop thinking about all the people who pay a premium, simply for accepting prices for what they are without ever stopping to make a quick reassessment.

3. Cost Before Commitment. Finding out how much something costs before committing to buying it seems like a no brainer, but I never ceased to be amazed at how often I hear people agreeing to pay for an event, activity, or product before knowing the price. Even if it’s a best friends’ bachelorette party, I need to know the cost of the club or hotel or matching t-shirts, and see if I can fit that number into my budget before RSVP-ing yes.

4. Take Inventory. Whether I’m getting ready to go to the grocery store or planning outfits for the upcoming wedding season, I always take inventory of what I have before going out to buy something new. I love when I can repurpose something, whether it’s plain pasta leftovers or a fancy evening gown.

5. Water Please. Every time I go to a restaurant or order take out I instinctively ask for tap water. I love a good happy hour cocktail or morning cappuccino, but only on special or special occasions. Substituting the fountain soda for tap water has added up to surprising savings (especially when you factor additional tax and tip for the drink) without sacrificing the dining experience altogether.

6. Forgo Retail. I rarely purchase anything in a traditional environment. There are far too many temptations for additional spending, upsells, and impulse buys in store. Instead, I keep a list and place orders online so that I can’t be distracted into overspending by shiny objects and picture perfect window displays.

What habits do you practice to maintain your frugality?

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About the Author: Stefanie O’Connell is a New York City based actress and freelance writer. She chronicles her struggle to “live the dream” on a starving artists’ budget at thebrokeandbeautifullife.com.

P.s. Did you see yesterday’s post that shared 10 ways to live extremely frugal so you could retire in 10 years?

Photo Credit: Bruce Fingerhood

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