Frugality is a lifestyle choice of living well within your means; Living beneath your means.
The main idea is to stop living from paycheck to paycheck, and start intentionally saving money, whether it be for a rainy day, retirement, your dream vacation (hopefully all three!), or if you’re trying to get out of debt.
Not all of us earn big paychecks, but all of us can live beneath our means by learning how to be frugal – it’s really not that difficult!
It really all comes down to one question: what is important to me? Is it eating out? Is it new clothes? Or is it the security of money in the bank?
People often say “I just can’t afford to save any money” (or eat healthier, or any number of things they vaguely wish they could do), but what I hear when they say that is “I’ve chosen to prioritize something else in its place”. (i.e. “I’ve chosen to eat out once a week instead of saving money”, or “I’ve chosen to buy convenience food over saving money”.)
There is nothing wrong with setting your priorities differently – just don’t fool yourself into thinking that something else is going on. Personally right now, I’m choosing to save money for airline travel over longterm retirement savings.
If you don’t know how to start on your frugal living journey, or need a little push to get you back on track, here are some steps you can take to get you where you need to be:
How To Be Frugal
Take stock of your spending
If you think you don’t have any room to put frugal practices in place, ask yourself this question: What can I de-prioritize? If you grow up with eating out every week, or getting takeout any time you’re busy, it seems so normal, and you never consider how much it’s costing you. Same goes for tv, internet, and any other number of things. So dig deep, think hard, and chances are, you’ll come up with some of what we like to call “money leaks” that you can fix.
Learn to shop with intention
You can no longer thoughtlessly run to the store and buy whatever you “need” in that moment. You have to think ahead. Learn how to save money on groceries, know where to find coupons, take advantage of sales, and learn how to meal plan.
The same goes for clothes shopping – or any other type of shopping. Whether you want to become a Goodwill shopping ninja, or just need to learn how to dress your type in order to stop wasting money on clothes you don’t like, the odds are, you really are spending too much on clothes. Sad to say it, but true story.
Decide where you want your money to go
And just as importantly, where you don’t want your money to go. As I mentioned, I want a lot of my money to go into my travel savings right now. In order to do that, I had to decide not to spend money on home décor. I’ll live with bare walls, because I want to take my family to Argentina, and I know that adding quality fixtures would easily set me back an airline ticket. (I’ll probably get more serious about home furnishing when we own our own home).
Put it there
You’ve taken stock of your expenses, you’ve trimmed the fat, so now your money is just flowing right where you want it, right? Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done. As soon as you free up money, there’ll be a dozen or so other seemingly important things to spend it on. You’ve got to guard against that! You’ve got to set up safeguards to get your money where you want it to go. Whether that’s via electronic transfers, direct deposits, or cuffing a briefcase full of money to your wrist (just kidding). Get your money taken care of as soon as you get the money. Otherwise, it just disappears.
Being frugal is a means to an end, and while some of us may need or want to delve into extreme frugality to reach our goals, being cheap isn’t the goal itself.
Remember that only you can decide what your priorities are.