Frugal Living Made Easy
From Webster’s New College Dictionary
1. not wasteful; not spending freely or unnecessarily; thrifty; economical
2. not costly or luxurious; inexpensive or meager
Okay, we have a definition, but what does it all mean?
Living a frugal life is really a trip on a time machine, going back in time when people naturally lived frugally because, well, they had no choice. Without a doubt people lived frugally hundreds of years ago, but the most recent exhibition of this lifestyle happened during the Great Depression of the 1930’s, and the years immediately following the Depression. During those tumultuous years, daily living was as much about survival as it was anything else. Creativity was the name of the game; how can we make meals last longer? How can we make a dollar stretch, and where can we find the best deal for that dollar? Creativity becomes crucial to everyday living when it is fueled by necessity and fear.
Those who lived through the Great Depression passed those valuable lessons on to their children, but learning lessons passed down from the previous generation is not the same as learning lessons out of necessity. The economy boomed, jobs were plentiful, possessions were purchased, and the old ways of living frugally were forgotten as time passed.
Which brings us to the year 2012. Unemployment is high, jobs are scarce, the buying power of a dollar has shrunk, and suddenly old lessons, long forgotten, are being resurrected, and people are discovering the wisdom in living more frugally. It is, for lack of a better term, a revolution, and participants are growing in number.
Now that you know the history behind this movement, it is time to take a closer look at how, exactly, one adopts a frugal lifestyle. There are, in my opinion, six basic principles that need to be followed in order for frugality to prosper and be beneficial to an individual or family. They are:
· Learn to reuse
· Learn to do it yourself
· Learn to make things on your own
· Adopt a philosophy of need rather than want
· Find inexpensive entertainment and activities
· Learn to eliminate debt
Learn to Reuse
We can boil this principle down to a very basic sentence: use something until you can’t use it any longer. I tried to be as clear on that point as I could. We are a disposable society, and we toss things away far too soon. Frugal people do not toss things away; when the original purpose of an item has been exhausted, then we start looking for secondary uses of that item.
An old t-shirt with holes in it becomes a rag for cleaning counters. An old pot that has rusted becomes a planter for the garden, and on and on we go, where it stops, nobody knows!
We are pack rats to a certain extent, holding onto old items, knowing that one day that item will find new life and purpose.
Learn to Do It Yourself
I don’t know about you and your financial situation, but we cannot afford to pay a mechanic or repairman between $50-$100 per hour to repair something for us. That kind of disposable income is foreign to our household, so we have learned to do it ourselves.
The internet has been the greatest tool for the do-it-yourselfer. No matter what the repair, you can find instructions on how to do it on the internet. For sure, willingness to try plays a big part in this scenario, but for those of us who have committed to a frugal lifestyle, the willingness is already there.
This writer has very few carpentry skills, but I can man a hammer and a screwdriver, and I can fake it until I make it. I don’t much care whether the job looks professionally done; all I care about is doing the job myself and not spending money in the process.
I read an article last year that said something like 37% of drivers on the road do not know how to change a tire. I still shake my head at the thought of paying someone to change my tire. Are you kidding?
Learn to Make Things on Your Own
My father used to tell me he could make anything with two important items: his stubbornness and a roll of duct tape. I still laugh when I think about that, but he wasn’t that far from the truth.
We are making a chicken coop for next spring. We know nothing about making a chicken coop, but we’ll have one made by April, and the chickens will have no idea (nor will they care) that the coop was made by a stubborn man and a roll of duct tape.
Again, we live in a convenience society, and for many convenience means having jobs done by someone else because you just don’t want to be bothered doing them. Frugality means finding a way to get the job done without paying someone to do it for you.
Yes, I have limitations! I would not attempt to build a home by myself; that calls for far too much detail for a guy with a roll of duct tape. However, I’ll build a chicken coop and not lose a moment’s sleep over it.
Adopt a Philosophy of Need Rather Than Want
This is such an important distinction. What we need is food, shelter, and companionship. What we want, of course, differs with each person, but suffice it to say that in the year 2012 a great many people have confused need with want.
A frugal lifestyle is one that is concentrated and centered on needs rather than wants. No one needs a big screen television with cable that allows for 150 channels. No one needs a Hummer, nor does one need new furniture every five years. I could write endless pages listing items we do not need, but what’s the point? If you adopt a frugal lifestyle you will quickly understand that there are few things in life that are crucial for survival; all other things are, as my mother was fond of saying, foo-foo!
Inexpensive Thanksgiving Ideas
- Frugal Thanksgiving Ideas: Living Simple
Are you looking to save money this Thanksgiving? Here are some helpful tips that just might surprise you and will definitely cut costs this holiday season.
Find Inexpensive Entertainment and Activities
Two people, going to a movie theater, paying for matinee tickets, and buying popcorn and a drink: $25! That is an expensive two hours of entertainment if you love frugality. Here is an alternative idea: pick up a movie on DVD at the library for free, pop your own popcorn, and watch it at home for a grand total of what, one dollar?
Game night at the house with parents and kids; total cost of zero! Going to local high school sports, or free museums, or jam sessions in the park; total cost of zero! Contact the local Chamber of Commerce and find out what free activities are available. Organize pot lucks with neighbors or friends, and rotate between houses each week or month. The possibilities are endless as long as you quit thinking in terms of fun=expense, and start thinking in terms of fun=no expense!
Are You Living Frugally?
Learn to Eliminate Debt
Oh my goodness! As a society we have certainly fallen into a trap of our own making, haven’t we? This installment-buying mentality has been prevalent in the United States for at least one hundred years. Buy now, pay later, is our mantra, and it sounds eerily similar to “borrow from Peter to pay Paul.”
Living a frugal life means cutting up the credit cards, paying down debt, and never falling for that trap again. Yes, there are those out there who are so deep in debt as to render this advice null and void; for the vast majority, however, who continue to pay monthly payments on debt that never shrinks, the time to affect change is now!
Let me give you a shortened version of this suggestion, one that is fairly easy to understand If you have to borrow money to buy something, then don’t buy it!
More Frugal Tips
- Ten Tips For Frugal Living: Living Simple
Would you like to take the first steps towards living frugally? These tips will help as you begin your journey to living a life unencumbered..
Wrap It up and Enjoy Your New Life
So, those are the basic principles of frugal living. For a novice, a babe in the woods, those principles may appear to be difficult. For those of us who live those principles daily, they are now second nature to us and simply a part of our daily routine.
It is never too late to begin, and if economists are correct, it might be wise to begin as soon as possible.
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
p.s. This article was suggested by the writers’ site HubPages. Much of what was written here has been written in other articles, but this was an exclusive title and as such I decided to go ahead with the material, giving it a fresh approach.