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A Common Cents Strategy

Updated on April 21, 2016
Stella Kaye profile image

Stella runs her business from home and has written several articles on working from home, home finance and entrepreneurial skills

Don't break the bank!

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First things first

Providing frugality is self-inflicted, it's possible to be happy and live frugally if you have some goal in mind and need to save up for the proverbial rainy day, but when a frugal lifestyle is imposed by others it definitely doesn't bring happiness. It's only human nature to rebel and try to regain those little luxuries that make life worthwhile. Being frugal and managing your money responsibly on a 'first things first' basis can help you become free of debt and thus help you become happier.

If you're saving for a deposit on a house, you'll likely have to cough up a twenty five percent deposit; there is no better practice to train yourself to live frugally if you desire to own your own home. The cash to afford material possessions as expensive as houses rarely comes easy and if it does, people often become unappreciative purely because they have not had to scrimp and save.

Saving for something whether it is a house or a car or a well-deserved vacation will always be an excellent exercise in self-control. You must continually bargain with yourself and rethink your strategies when shopping. You may get some self satisfaction and happiness from saving a few dollars here and there and you will realise that if you buy a new outfit this week then you won’t be able to afford a weekend away next week so saving and spending wisely and getting your priorities right is of paramount importance.

Being frugal can thus bring its rewards and lead to a degree of happiness as opposed to allowing yourself to be an incorrigible spendthrift who will definitely be unhappy when the bank statement arrives.

Many self-made millionaires have struggled to get where they are - that’s why they've got there in the first place by being cautious and careful. They have had to be strict with themselves when they were establishing their business and not been able to reap the rewards of their labours until their entrepreneurial ventures were entirely successful. Nothing fell into their laps and a lot of hard work and frugality allowed them to eventually reach the point where they didn’t need to be so frugal any more.

Many people mistake frugal for mean but this is not necessarily the case. Frugal means being economical or thrifty with money; you must not waste any on frivolities or reckless and unproductive pursuits. Working all week and saving your money just to splash out at the weekend is irresponsible and certainly won’t bring happiness.

Take only what you need and nothing more. Have you ever gone on holiday and watched people on the all inclusive option piling their plates with food like there was no tomorrow? Frugal means don’t waste anything or take more than your fair share. You can be happy being frugal and it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to deny yourself a few treats and luxuries now and again.

Whether being frugal will bring happiness or not is up to you. Happiness is a state of mind that some people never achieve whether money is part of the equation or not. Moderation in all things goes hand in hand with being frugal. Save a little, spend a little and you won’t feel hard done by and you won’t get a reputation for being stingy.

Lottery winners have been known to ‘spend, spend, spend’ so that their winnings are depleted in the blink of an eye. The frugal amongst us will wince at their extravagance knowing they could have done something productive and worthwhile with such a windfall or even doubled it by investing wisely. It all depends on individual attitudes and values. It's like the parable of the five talents in The Bible – some folk will use money to gain more but others will not do anything useful with what they have already have even if they don't fritter it away.

Personality wise, some people are incapable of saving and live up to their income while others manage perfectly well on a meagre budget and can even save for unexpected events. Being frugal will come easily for the latter and they will be happy to shop in thrift and charity shops in search of a bargain. Self-deprivation does not have to be the order of the day even on a restrictive income.

Happiness can be elusive to rich and poor alike; it isn’t something that is totally dependent on money although cash can help you on the road to happiness if you use it wisely. Living frugally won’t guarantee happiness any more or less than anything else but it may help you to appreciate what you have and put it to good use.

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