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Many people take a narrow direction to frugal living. They think the outcome of putting into practice some frugal ideas will lead to a boring and uneventful life. They also think being frugal means being cheap, and not having the things you want, or even need. Most people pursue the idea of being frugal to save money. But there are other avenues or reasons to be frugal. Below I will outline how being frugal means more than just spending less, and how you can approach frugality in a much wider scope.
Living frugally will simplify your life.
If you move towards a frugal lifestyle one residual effect will be a simpler life. Being frugal means really thinking through your purchases, and having purposeful reasons for doing something. When you have a frugal mindset, you become less reactive to impulse buys, sales, or trends. You start to ask bigger questions such as, “Does this fit into my plans?” “Does this help me accomplish my goals?” Having a frugal outlook is not a bad thing, it is a responsible part of life and is about taking control rather than feeling like an addict looking for the next fix or high, and then having buyer’s remorse when the purchase is done. By embracing a frugal lifestyle, you will have more time and resources to do what is really important to you, because you will say no to many other small things in your life. If you want to pursue a hobby, that is fine, and being frugal does not mean giving up your hobbies and interests, it just means being more deliberate and planning the one or two important hobbies you want to continue doing.
Living frugally will leave you will less stuff, and that is not a bad thing.
As you continue down the frugal path, you will notice the stuff around you begin to decrease. This happens for a few reasons. You will buy less, but it will not mean lower quality. Being frugal does not mean cheap, it means thoughtful, purposeful purchases. You won’t have 10 pairs of jeans, you will have 3 nice, long lasting pairs of jeans. You won’t have 15 dress shirts, you will have 5-7 nice, well fitting dress shirts, that may even be tailored and dry cleaned regularly. You will notice the stuff you have will be less, but it will last longer and perform better for a much longer time. You will also notice your desire to repair items, which will save you even more money on top of owning a smaller quantity. Something you buy may be of such high quality it is worth repairing to have it last longer yet, which is usually less expensive than purchasing a new one. And with less stuff comes less time it takes to care of your stuff. So many people are enslaved to their things. They own a boat, and they feel obligated to take it out every weekend in order to justify the purchase. But with a boat comes insurance, storage, gas, repairs and licenses. Many purchases we make we are only thinking of the initial or upfront cost, not all the residual costs that go along with it.
Living frugally will be purposeful and goal driven, not reactive and short termed.
Some of your decisions at the time may seem like you are losing out. You may not attend as many events, have the newest and greatest of things, but there is a reason for that. You have to remember you are giving up something good now, for something better later. You will start to think of that house you want to purchase when you don’t buy a new set of golf clubs, or being debt free when you forgo another vacation in the same year. So many of us are driven by media and advertising that we fall victim to that false sense of urgency they create to get us to buy now. Think about how often the newest and greatest cell phone comes out. Do you think about that if you could hold off for another 6 months, you could not only have the next latest and greatest, but also be able to pay for it with cash, instead of a payment plan or on credit?
Living frugally drastically affects your relationships, in a good way.
You may think living frugally will drastically impact your social life, and that isn’t necessarily true. If your friends go out 3 times a week, try to meet them twice. When you go out, don’t order 5 drinks and a meal. Order a drink and an app. Or suggest things to do that don’t cost much money. Hang out at people’s houses instead of bars. Read books and discuss them, rent a movie instead of going to one. Focus on having a few close friends instead of a ton of acquaintances. You will also begin to see how much deeper your friendships will become. You will see that when your friends need you, you will be there, because you have the time and freedom to drop what you’re doing and help them. You will have more meaningful relationships because you won’t be rushing from one event to another, or have the next activity on the mind.
You can see that having a frugal lifestyle not only benefits your wallet, but also your time, your relationships and your future.
So now that we have some solid reasons to live frugally, how can we start?
- Stop adding to the pile- You need to stop making purchases that do not add significant value to your life. If you have a pair of boots, don’t buy another before the ones you have are worn out. Otherwise you will have two pairs to store and will most likely only wear the new one the majority of the time anyways. If you have two white button down shirts, don’t purchase a third. If you are buying it because you don’t like the other two, then buy it, but get rid of the other two. The overall impact of buying a third shirt that is very similar to the other two is so small compared to what you could do with the money otherwise, and just adds to your “to care for list”. The bottom line is to try and wait to purchase an item until your current one needs to be replaced.
- Make the pile smaller- Go through your things and donate those that are redundant or rarely used. One natural thought is that the more choices we have the more free we are, but in reality the more choices we have means the more we have to worry about, maintain, store, and well simply spend to have. I find having fewer options helps me move on faster and do other things that are more important.
- Plan margin into your schedule- You can be frugal with your time as well. Stop stressing out about going from one event to another and being late to one by leaving early for another. Try setting some rules or guidelines around how you will determine if you will go do something or not. I try to make sure my days are planned out a few in advance. I also try to never do two “events” in a day. I find this makes me more attentive and in the now when I am at the event, and I do not cancel plans simply because something else came up that sounds better. If I had it on my schedule to do, it’s on a first come first serve basis. You will notice your friends, family and coworkers will respect you and your time more. They will see you as someone who does not cancel, who keeps their word, and you will find yourself with a good life balance.
- Set long term goals- Being frugal can wear on you at times. If you do not have a purpose for your frugality, you may falter. Set long term and short term goals to help keep you on track. Rather it’s a monetary goal, a purchase, a trip, or even a daily routine, by having these things to look forward to can help keep you on track and keep in mind what is really important.
- Lastly, move at your own pace- In a sense we are altering our lifestyle. This isn’t a diet to do for a few months, make frugal living something permanent in your life. With that being said, take your time. Implement one new thing each month. If you change too fast your odds of sticking with it decrease. You need time to adjust to a new routine, so give yourself plenty of time and flexibility to do so.