Although many people associate Frugality with an austere lifestyle, it could not be more true to the opposite. In fact, being frugal enables consumers to spend money on what they really value while saving on the things they don’t.
According to the founder of Schmoll, FrugalRules.com, “Frugality gives you flexibility when you see how investing in other areas keeps you from what you want in certain areas,” “Frugality is not about deprivation. It’s about making your spending purposeful, and finding balance and spending on what you value.”
Consumers trying to be more frugal must set goals and learn to survive without some commodities in order to be able to afford others. Although it isn’t a hard concept to grasp, it can be challenging to make any changes without a guide. Follow those steps to begin living a frugal lifestyle.
- Identify your end goal.
Adopting a frugal lifestyle isn’t something that will happen overnight. It’s a journey that will have bumps along the way. In order to maintain it for the long-term and reap the benefits, experts recommend outlining your goals.
“Writing down your goals and tracking progress will help you stay motivated when things get challenging,” says Jessi Fearon, a personal finance coach at JessiFearon.com. “Although you may have a few instant wins, you won’t see results overnight, and tracking your goals and progress will make it easier to stick to it.”
Consumers can list goals on a piece of paper or on an Excel chart, depending on their preference. Some may even find an app such as Mint helpful for tracking their various spending and saving habits.
- Assess your spending and make a budget.
Learning how to live without certain items, so you can spend money on what you value most, is the center of what it means to be frugal. In order to make this a reality, however, the most crucial step is setting a budget.
“The most important frugal habit you should adopt is to create and use a monthly budget,” says Gina Lincicum, founder of MoneyWiseMoms.com. “None of the little things you do to save, such as using coupons or buying clothes on sale, will have as much of an impact if you’re overspending in other areas.”
Begin by reviewing your checking and saving accounts from the last few months to assess your financial situation and identify potential expenses and purchases you can live without. Create a plan to reduce or eliminate these items, so there’s extra money to go toward goals and other more important expenses.
Change one behavior at a time.
“Starting small is the best way to start living a more frugal lifestyle,” Schmoll says. “I always recommend to individuals that they try one thing to build confidence. Once they see they can make a change and do well, they will feel more motivated to make other changes.”
As an example, Schmoll suggests that those who want to cut back on dining out should choose one or two meals to make at home at first. “Seeing how much money can be saved over the course of a few weeks is a great way to see how frugality can help with long-term savings,” Schmoll says.
Identify spending triggers.
In a world where people are bombarded by ads and deals everywhere they turn, giving into the consumerist mindset is hard to avoid. In order to take control of impulsive and excessive spending, you must understand what triggers it in the first place. Spending triggers are anything that causes mindless spending.
“Knowing your triggers gives you power,” Schmoll says. “It allows you to know your area of weakness and make a plan to avoid a particular situation.”
Avoiding spending triggers is relatively easy. For instance, if you tend to overspend at a certain store, limit the number of trips you make to that retailer. If you’re constantly indulging in deals promoted on a shopping app, remove it from your phone. And if you’re feeling bored, find another activity to keep you busy, such as taking a walk or calling a friend.
Set a “use it up” mindset. Being less wasteful is a basic principle of frugality, and this is easy to accomplish by shifting your mindset to think about using up everything you have before spending money to replace it. Think outside the box and let your creativity guide you to be more resourceful with what you already have.
“You don’t have to take things to the extreme,” Fearon says. “Start with creating new dishes out of leftovers, reuse worn-out shirts as cleaning rags, and repurpose as many things as you can.”
Enjoy free activities.
Being frugal doesn’t mean missing out on fun and adventure. It means looking for ways to enjoy life for less, and there are plenty of free activities available. These include hikes, picnics, watching the sunset, playing in the park, camping, hosting a family game night, and scheduling free days at local museums.
Lincicum suggests taking advantage of the local library for free family activities, such as arts and crafts, movie nights, and book and movie rentals.
Stash away cash for emergencies.
The biggest challenges many people face when it comes to reaching any financial goal are those unexpected life circumstances that derail progress. A car accident, home repair or medical emergency can easily wipe out savings or add a tremendous amount of debt. Lincicum recommends setting aside cash in a separate savings fund to help weather these short-term financial storms and avoid high-interest debt.
Prioritize this emergency fund by creating a line item within your budget and fund it faster by automating a transfer between your checking and savings account every time you get paid.
Focus on lowering major expenses. While hacking away at small expenses by clipping coupons and buying used items will help boost savings over time, consumers can gain bigger financial rewards faster by reducing larger budgetary items, says Lily He-Prudhomme, founder of TheFrugalGene.com. Look at the expenses that take a bigger bite out of your monthly budget and how you can reduce them.
Says He-Prudhomme: “Making sacrifices such as living in a smaller apartment or taking the bus will benefit your budget’s bottom line in larger increments.”
Conclusively, some people believe that living a frugal lifestyle means living a cheapskate lifestyle, which is a misconception. Living a frugal lifestyle means spending more meaningfully on money rather than saving money by purchasing a cheap item. Adopting a frugal lifestyle does not mean depriving one another. Frugal people live a happy and fulfilled life getting more money out of it. They ‘re spending on an item worth their money. They enjoy themselves and reward themselves in a more meaningful way, rather than spending their hard-earned money meaninglessly on pointless things. Living a frugal life means being able to appreciate everything you have in your life. Instead of taking care of their existing possessions, a spendthrift person always craves for new things that are pricey. Frugal people appreciate their possessions and avoid wasting money on showing others their lifestyle. They prefer putting the money into something more important, such as debt payments, pension, retirement savings, making extra mortgage payments, saving money to purchase something important, saving money for a holiday, etc.
Lastly, I would like to suggest that people can achieve a happy and safe financial existence by living a frugal lifestyle. Those in crippling debts can be able to pay them off by adopting a frugal lifestyle. They can begin a fresh financial life and get a grip on that. People who already manage their financial life responsively can achieve all of the financial goals by adopting a frugal lifestyle. They will shortly obtain a stable financial future and early to become financially independent.