It’s important to live a frugal life. Why? Because we can always find a way to spend the money we earn or save. Unless we made a lifestyle change we are ultimately going to miss the mark. Can you say Michael Jackson? The guy owns the Beatles’ collection and still has financial trouble.
What is Living Frugal?
I define living frugal as simply making intentional choices with your spending, everyday. Notice I don’t say making cheap choices. Frugality has nothing to do with being cheap. See what cheap is down below. All you need to do to be frugal is to be intentional.
What do I mean by intentional? I mean that a majority of your choices to spend should be planned and with your financial goals in mind. Remember back when I said to set a net worth goal and how I said that you could set up a savings account to save for big items (like a house or a great vacation)? Well, it’s these goals that you should have in mind when you are spending.
Are the choices you are making harming your chances of meeting those goals?
Frugality Doesn’t Come Natural
It didn’t for me, at least. You need to educate yourself on how to live frugal. Everyday we are bombarded with a thousand different messages of what we should do with our money. It’s up to us to learn to block and filter those messages so that we achieve the desired result either short-term or long.
How I Learned to be Frugal
For me, I think I learned to be frugal in phases over the last few years. It started with me learning what truly satisfies me (companionship, experiences, achievements) and what I value (good health, family, security). Once I equated my satisfaction and values with my spending being frugal became a huge desire. As time went on, I got better at making the choices needed to live that lifestyle.
Specific Ways that We are Frugal Now
- Look for sales, discounts, coupons on items we intend to buy.
- We don’t shop for entertainment purposes.
- Cook at home often.
- Find projects we can do ourselves vs. buy.
- We don’t buy expensive, trendy clothes. We buy expensive classic looks.
- Find ways to experience entertainment at a reduced cost. $1 second-run movie theaters.
- Find 2 for 1 specials or split meals at large portion restaurants.
All the while, we try and evaluate purchases based on the need for high or low quality? Take a recent example: We just bought a new home and needed a dining table. This is our first home and table. We plan on keeping this particular dining table for as long as we can. We talk about having our grand-kids sit at this table. Is this the time to buy low quality? No.
It’s best to spend the extra money to get a solid, classic piece of furniture that we’ll never have to replace. Now as for the center piece we will put on this table, we decided to buy lower quality at a discount store. Why? Because the center piece will go out of style and we will want to change it more often. Therefore, we don’t need to put our retirement at risk just to have an expensive center piece that we will want to replace in two years.
These are just a few of the ways you can live a frugal life. There are many more examples out there. I think it’s important that you discover the ways that work for you. Everyone has their own frugality meter, so to speak.
Cheap vs. Frugal
This is a highly debated topic, but I like to keep this pretty simple. I ask myself two questions:
- Is it worth the extra time/money to make the less expensive choice? In other words, if getting the less expensive item will require me to drive all the way across town and spend more in gas and time value then it probably isn’t the frugal choice. It’s just being cheap.
- Is the less expensive item such poor quality that it will not render any value and possibly reduce my happiness? If so, skip it. You’re just being cheap.
Benefits of a Frugal Life
- Satisfaction of knowing you are achieving your goals
- Getting the best value
- Enjoying and honoring the things you own
So there you have it. That’s an in-depth look at frugality and how living the frugal lifestyle can help you have success. Hopefully you’ve gained something by reading about our experience with this topic.