The topic of personal finance has always seemed formulaic, and to some extent this structured approach has value. Without a doubt, we should aim to save as much as possible, and we should always evaluate our various accounts to project return on investment. It doesn't matter what our income level or budget is we should do our best to leverage programs like company-matched 401(k) contributions and pretax benefits. If we want to guide our decisions, we can plug and chug our unique numbers into the miscellaneous calculators that experts create to help us visualize and analyze our objectives. Especially for the finance novice, a variety of cookie-cutter approaches have held strong to command the discipline of healthy budgeting.

TUTORIAL: Budgeting Basics

From a sociological standpoint, however, we are living in times of opposing financial forces, and as a result budgets are tough to manage. As unemployment rates stagnate and educational costs soar, technology is helping people access information for boundless learning opportunities. In other words, the wealth gap is growing, and the digital divide is narrowing. People need to find a way to save, but skyrocketing student debt, high living expenses and low-paying jobs stand in the way of that goal. However, technology and information are on our side to help us get creative – no matter where we stand on the wealth spectrum.

The result has been an emerging frugal living phenomenon. Now, more than ever, we rely on each other to fine-tune our savings tips and tricks into manageable and customizable savings strategies. These days, virtually anyone can launch blogs or peer-to-peer communities, and people like J. Money, FrugalDad and the EveryDay Minimalist have ventured to share their frugal living insights with audiences who are interested in learning.

What lessons should we learn from the web's frugal living experts? Below, we list four sites you should take a look at.

Creativity in Budgeting
Heather Schisler at teaches us to approach shopping from nuanced perspectives. As a feature, her website shares freebies, coupons and deals. Schisler hosts free extreme couponing classes to help people build stockpiles, find high-value coupons, organize deals and use sites like Amazon and Ebates. Schisler's experience comes from her background as a stay-at-home mom, and her lessons are applicable to anyone and everyone – mom or not.

Entrepreneurship in Everyday Ideas
Over at, Kyle Taylor teaches us easy, wacky and real ways to make some spare cash. From spying on the mail man, keeping insured, renting out your car and selling homemade "macquariums" on Etsy, Kyle teaches us how anyone and everyone can become an everyday entrepreneur. Best of all, he appeals to a range of budgeters from serious investors, hobbyists and fans of cash-back systems.

Strength in Community is a community of personal finance writers that specializes in anything and everything relating to money. As we very well know, the topic of money transcends money to encompass topics of philosophy, mental health and practicality. WiseBread provides a home for all of these subjects.

Personal Empowerment Through Sound Decisions
MoneyCrashers is a site that aims to educate and empower its readers in the areas of debt, investing, credit, education, real estate, insurance and spending. The site leverages the expertise of a team of writers to provide diverse perspectives on timeless topics like how to choose a bank, credit trends and shopping best-practices.

The Bottom Line
Regardless of how much money you make, how much you owe or how old you are, you are in control of your budget. Yes, if you have a student loan or credit card debt, you need to pay it, but you can still make strategic decisions to support your financial future. What we learn best, we learn from each other – and by leveraging the expertise of the web's frugal living community, we are better equipped to tap into our creative minds.

Related Articles
  1. Home & Auto

    4 Areas to Consider Roofing Material Types

    Roofing your home is very important, that’s why you should choose a roof specifically designed to handle your area’s climate.
  2. Budgeting

    The 5 Most Expensive States for Child Care

    To get a better sense of how child care costs can fluctuate, here's a look at the costs of child care across the country.
  3. Home & Auto

    Looking To Invest In Home Improvements?

    Some home improvement projects could cost you more to complete than they’ll pay out in equity. So, here we show you the worst projects to avoid.
  4. Fundamental Analysis

    Understanding the Internal Rate of Return Rule

    The internal rate of return rule is a popular method used to compare investments or projects.
  5. Active Trading Fundamentals

    How Groupon Makes Money

    Find out how Groupon makes money, including a rundown of how Groupon works and what benefits it provides to the businesses it partners with.
  6. Home & Auto

    Are Home Inspections Worth It? - Price vs. Value

    If you’re wondering whether home inspection is worth the investment, the following information will help you decide.
  7. Budgeting

    How to Defray Long-Term Care Expenses

    Here's a handful of options on what you can do to defray long-term care expenses.
  8. Budgeting

    The True Cost of Home Caregiving

    Caring for eldery family in-home might be unavoidable, but most caregivers don't realize the true cost of doing so.
  9. Budgeting

    Is Level Money the Perfect Budgeting Tool?

    Here’s a detailed review of how Level Money works and whether it could be the perfect tool to help you budget.
  10. Economics

    Explaining Budget Surplus

    Budget surplus is an economic term describing a situation where revenue exceeds expenditures.
  1. Internal Rate Of Return - IRR

    A metric used in capital budgeting measuring the profitability ...
  2. Debt Consolidation

    The act of combining several loans or liabilities into one loan. ...
  3. Personal Spending Plan

    Similar to a budget, a personal spending plan helps outline where ...
  4. Fudget

    A falsified statement of income and expenses. A fudget or "fudget ...
  5. Capital Project

    A long-term investment made in order to build upon, add or improve ...
  6. Haggle

    When two parties involved in the purchase of a good and service ...
  1. How does a bank determine what my discretionary income is when making a loan decision?

    Discretionary income is the money left over from your gross income each month after taking out taxes and paying for necessities. ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What is the range of deductibles offered with various health insurance plans?

    A wide range of possible deductibles are available with health insurance plans, starting as low as a few hundred dollars ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I know how much of my income should be discretionary?

    While there is no hard rule for how much of a person's income should be discretionary, Inc. magazine points out that it would ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. What proportion of my income should I put into my demand deposit account?

    Generally speaking, aim to keep between two months and six months worth of your fixed expenses in your demand deposit accounts. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How do I use the rule of 72 to estimate compounding periods?

    The rule of 72 is best used to estimate compounding periods that are factors of two (2, 4, 12, 200 and so on). This is because ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How much risk is associated with subprime mortgages?

    A large amount of risk is associated with subprime mortgages. Since the mortgages are specifically for people who do not ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!