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Basic Strategies for Frugal Living
Our One Weakness
My wife and I love going to movies. Going to the cinema is our one sinful pleasure, and frugality is kicked to the curb twice a month when we willingly succumb to that sinful pleasure. We owe it to ourselves, and we feel no guilt in spending money on that mindless entertainment.
We can afford to do this because the rest of our lives are dictated by the frugal lifestyle. We believe in spending money based on needs vs wants. We are convinced that the economy will only get worse in time, and we are preparing ourselves for the next great economic collapse.
Still, we love going to movies. Our secret is now public. Mea culpa!
People who know me, and who have followed my articles on frugality, know I am serious about this alternative lifestyle. They know that we raise vegetables, have chickens, and buy nothing new. They know this, and yet I will often get questions asking me how we do it, like there is some magic formula involved that others are not privy to.
There is nothing magic about it. We have simply made a commitment to live a simple life, and we have embraced some basic strategies that really, anyone can embrace, if they are willing to do so.
What are these strategies?
Reduction of Waste
Needs vs wants….there is the guiding light of frugality. Possessions cost money to purchase. Possessions cost money to maintain and repair. Possessions take up space.
If you want to get serious about living a frugal lifestyle, you can start by getting rid of everything that you do not need.
It is summertime. Have a garage sale. What you don’t sell, take to Goodwill. Get rid of your clutter. You will be amazed by the amount of space you will create when you get rid of items you do not need. Taking it a step further, now that all unnecessary stuff is gone, you don’t need such a large home, so sell and buy smaller….thus lowering your utility costs, lessening your upkeep, and so on.
The three of us live in 1,100 square feet. Once Bev’s daughter heads off to college, we will sell this home and move into something half this size. Why not?
We grow our own vegetables. We grow our own fruit. We raise chickens for fresh eggs. Soon we will raise quail for eggs and meat, and soon we will have goats and begin beekeeping. We do all those things to cut down grocery costs, and to ensure that what we eat is healthy.
Cutting your costs can be done in so many ways. Go solar….insulate your home….plant shrubs for more insulation….shop wisely and look for sales….walk more and drive less. I could write ten articles on how to cut costs...oh, wait, I already have. J
Cutting costs is not difficult. The hard part, for most people, is finding the willingness to do so.
Have you ever heard of “impulse buying?” Of course you have, and most likely you are a practitioner of that spending habit. You go into a grocery store with a shopping list, and when you leave you have five additional items you never planned on buying. You go to the mall and buy a shirt you had no intention of buying. You decide, on the spur of the moment, that a pizza sounds much better for dinner than the leftovers you had planned on having.
Practicing self-restraint has everything to do with willpower and determination. It requires committing to a plan and sticking with that plan. Corporations are getting rich because most people are impulse buyers. Great marketing campaigns are based on this reality. Why do you think candy displays are always near the checkout stand of a store?
Tossing Social Norms to the Junk Heap
This falls under the category of “keeping up with the Joneses.”
You know how it goes. If big is good then bigger is better. Gotta have those status symbols. Gotta own. Gotta own the best.
It is all nonsense of course. It is not necessary to own a home to be happy. One does not have to own three vehicles, and one does not need a $500 barbecue. We do not own a television nor do we own a stereo system. Our home is fifty years old and looks like it, and yet somehow we manage to be happy. I do not remember the last time I purchased new clothes…let me amend that last statement…I do not remember the last time I purchased anything new, and that leads us to our next strategy.
Embracing Used and Rejecting New
Repeat after me: new is unnecessary!
Repeat after me: used is beautiful!
We own nothing that is new. Come on over to our house and we’ll prove it to you.
“New” costs more money.
“New” uses more natural resources to produce.
We are against wasteful spending, and we are against the wanton destruction of natural resources.
End of story!
Fostering a Healthy Community
This is the one strategy of frugal living that is often not mentioned. Frugal living takes us all back to simpler times when community meant something. Neighbors sharing produce, fruit, eggs, and ideas….neighbors bartering and trading necessities….neighbors forming a bond that will last a lifetime….that kind of thinking was once common in America, and those of us who love frugal living want it to return.
I have spoken often of the city of Olympia where I live. I love this city. There is a strong sense of community among many of the 50,000+ citizens here. There is a spirit that is intangible but very much alive, a spirit of neighbors helping neighbors, and everyone looking out for each other. Everywhere you go in this city you see signs of an alternative lifestyle, a lifestyle that says it is okay to embrace a new way of living, and it is not only okay but we will support you in doing so.
Can you even imagine?
I’m Not Trying to Convince You
I had someone get upset with me a few months ago. I had written an article about frugal living, and she responded that she likes her extra possessions and sees nothing wrong with the fruits of her labor.
Well neither do I.
If that’s the lifestyle you want then God bless you. I’m not selling so there is no reason for you to defend yourself. I write these articles about frugality for those who are interested in changing, and who are curious about it. If that is not you then have a great life. I have nothing to offer you.
If, however, you are worried about the economy….if you would like to jump out of the rat race….if you would like to gain control of your finances and actually spend quality time living rather than paying for possessions….then I believe this article, and others like it, will help you.
Start small. Do some late spring cleaning and start getting rid of your clutter. Once you have done that, we’ll move on to the next step. Give me a call if you start weakening, and I’ll give you some verbal encouragement. And if you can’t reach me, remember…I love movies…but I will return after the movie ends.
2014 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)