Enjoy Frugal Living Without Deprivation
A Closer Look at Frugal Living
Almost all of us know of at least one distant relative or seemingly eccentric friend who appears to thrive on reusing toilet paper and other obscure (and often rather undesirable) items. Unfortunately, this is usually the very reason that the term 'frugal living' is met with such disdain and negativity. Most people are under the impression that living frugally involves doing without life's little pleasures, dressing in cast-off rags and eating bean and rice meals three times a day.
Contrary to belief however, frugal living can be far more fulfilling than you can ever begin to imagine. There are many instances where people who have chosen the path of frugality have actually noticed a substantial improvement in their standard of living. There are many ways in which a person can live frugally without having to worry about feeling deprived or losing out.
Start by Thinking a Little Differently
In many cases, people tend to dwell on the luxuries or items that they do not have, which results in them experiencing feelings of resentment and jealousy. Sure, the next door neighbors may have the latest model SUV, but did you ever stop to think that they may have run up a tremendous amount of debt to get it? Neighbors got the latest, largest TV screen on the market? For how long - until the debt collectors come to pick it up?
Instead of dwelling on what you don't have, focus on making the most of what you already do have. If you're wearing a clean shirt with a comfortable pair of pants, you are already far more privileged than you realize. You have underwear and shoes on as well? Then you are counted as one of the richest people on earth. Millions around us would give almost anything to even have a single pair of shoes, yet so many people moan, gripe, whine and complain about not having the latest pair that they saw on TV(when they already have 45 other pairs, of which 40 of them haven't even been worn).
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Look for Different Ways to Have Fun
Although it may seem like fun to head for the mall and shop up a storm when you're bored, this habit could (and possibly has already) cause you to incur a tremendous amount of debt, which is sure as heck no fun to pay back. It's time for us to realize that having fun does not need to cost an arm and a leg. There are many alternative ways to have fun that are either cheap or completely free of charge.
Instead of piling into the car and heading for the nearest money-trap when boredom sets in, why not get to know your neighbourhood instead? You may be surprised to find that there are many community-based activities and parks that can be enjoyed by adults and children that cost just a few dollars or are even completely free on certain days of the week.
If you are a book lover, but find that purchasing new books is breaking your budget, why not inquire at your local library about signing up? If you don't live close to a library but have a few good friends who enjoy reading as much as you do, consider setting up a book swap party. If each of you purchases one book (whether new or from a local thrift store) and passes it along to everyone else, your bibliophile habit need not leave a gaping hole in your budget.
While many people find it fun to purchase fast food or expensive restaurant meals, these habits can quickly erode a budget. Sure, it will mean that you won't have to prepare a meal yourself, but surely, after getting in the car, driving to the fast food joint or restaurant, struggling to find parking, standing in line to be served or seated and driving back home again, you would actually have expended far more energy (and not to mention money) than you would have by preparing a simple meal at home. Many people also forget the additional costs associated with eating out, such as waiter tips, gas to drive to the restaurant or fast food joint and inflated drink prices.
It may be fun to purchase clothing at the mall, but in many cases, there are far cheaper alternatives that will still allow you to have an extensive wardrobe for a fraction of the price. Many people tend to turn up their noses at the idea of purchasing clothing that is gently used. However, for many clothing items, this may actually be a far wiser choice. How many of us have purchased brand new clothing, only to have it shrink or rip after the first wash? If a clothing item is on the shelves of a thrift or consignment store, you can usually rely on it to last for quite a while.
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Have Fun at Home
These days, far too many people think that in order to have fun, you need to leave your house and spend money. Neither of these aspects is true. A lot of fun can be had without having to spend a fortune on entertainment.
A large percentage of the population own TV's, DVD players and just about every other gadget that opens and shuts. Yet they still insist on going to the movies, which is not only expensive, but doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Why not rent a DVD instead? Many places now deliver your chosen DVD to your door at a very affordable price. Pop your own popcorn at home and you can still enjoy a movie night, but for a fraction of the cost of going out. Not to mention that you will also save time, gas and wear and tear on your vehicle at the same time.
Nowadays, many parents are under the impression that in order for their children to be 'well-rounded,' they need to enroll them in a list of extra curricular activities as long as their arm. This not only winds up being horrendously expensive, it is also extremely time-consuming and stressful, because someone has to ferry everyone across town each day. Instead, allow each family member to choose a single curricular activity and have them learn to entertain themselves on the other days. Your wallet and not to mention your stress levels, will most certainly thank you at the end of the month.
Once you have adjusted to your new lifestyle, you may find that you no longer need to work as many hours in order to meet your financial obligations. If you were moonlighting in order to pay for fast food, you will now be able to experience the joy of being able to arrive home before sundown each day. This can result in reduced stress levels as well as more quality time spent with your family. In fact, many studies have shown that frugal people with fewer possessions and financial obligations are far less stressed than those who take home a six-figure wage each month.
At first, it may seem difficult to change your habits, but after a few months, they will become routine - just like the bad habits you previously had. For example, you may initially find it challenging to prepare your own pizzas and popcorn, but after a few attempts, you will wonder why you didn't start making your own snacks long ago. You may forget to take your coffee with you for the first few mornings, but after a week or two, you will get used to preparing it yourself - just as you had previously been used to stopping off to buy it on route to work in the mornings.
Using Your Money Wisely
Living frugally does not mean that you will never be able to own a new pair of shoes or visit a movie theater ever again. It simply means that you can have just as much fun as before, but with alternative sources of entertainment, food, gadgetry and clothing. Choosing to live frugally also means that you have chosen to use your money and other resources more wisely than those around you. This lifestyle will also enable you to pass valuable lessons on to your children or grandchildren regarding financial management and stewardship.
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