Often the first definition that comes to mind when you hear the word "frugal" is someone who does not like to spend money. Many people associate the word frugal with the extreme cases of people who rarely spend money and make extreme sacrifices in order to protect their assets.
The Reality of Being Frugal
In reality, being frugal is managing your resources and making careful, planned purchases. This means that a frugal person is mindful of spending their money, but it does not mean that they do not do the things that they love the most in a cost-effective way. It is important to be frugal in a healthy way that is emanating from a positive mindset towards money matters.
The key to embracing a more frugal lifestyle is recognizing the areas where you may need to cut back and choosing the areas where you feel that you have earned the right to splurge a little bit more — within reason. Frugal people recognize that no matter how much they want a certain item, if they can’t pay cash for it, then they can’t have it. They also look ahead to see if a particular purchase is going to make it difficult to purchase groceries at the end of the month. They have mastered the basic financial skills so that they are in control of their money and their emotions when they curb their spending. This comes from a conviction about higher goals and priorities.
When you decide to become more frugal it does not mean giving up everything you enjoy. Rather, it means prioritizing what you enjoy, your financial goals, and deciding which activities will have priority — or be omitted. You can have a large amount of discretionary income and enjoy a wide variety of activities while still being frugal. You can embrace a more frugal lifestyle without fully cutting out everything you enjoy.
The key is that you are working towards specific financial goals while you are doing those things. It also means carefully researching your purchases and activities, and looking for the best deals on them. Being frugal usually means you have mastered the essential financial skills so that you can begin to build wealth.
Examples of Easy Belt-Tightening
For example, if you are trying to tighten up your budget, but you feel that you need cable television to relax at day's end, you can still have both. Cut back your cable package to one where you utilize all of the channels and have limited premium services. Some people may choose to cut cable television entirely and switch to streaming service providers that allow you to still enjoy viewing shows.
Other actions include decreasing the amount you spend on eating out each month to compensate within your budget. If you love to travel, you can still travel, but you may spend more time looking for the best deals for tickets, cruises and activities. You can also find the designer labels you want by shopping at consignment stores to find the items for less money.
These examples are a few of the ways you can be more frugal without seriously hampering your overall lifestyle.
Watch Your Spending
The key to everything is not to be overspending or giving in to every indulgence you desire. It is important to practice moderation so that you have control of your finances. If you are spending on a whim on a regular basis, you are not practicing a frugal lifestyle. You need to be budgeting every month and planning for purchases such as new clothes and fun expenses as a part of your regular budget.
Being frugal does not mean giving up your fun, but you should definitely be planning it out and making sure that you can truly afford the things you want to do the most. You can also consider finding fun, frugal activities that you enjoy without spending a ton of money.
Live Within Your Means and Save for the Future
You can adopt a more frugal lifestyle right now by choosing one thing you want to keep and two things you are willing to give up in order to do that. As you work to live within your means and save up for the future, you will be able to relax and really enjoy life without all the financial worry. These things may help you adjust to a pay cut so you can take a less stressful job and improve your quality of life.
You may want to take a frugal challenge to see how much you can save without cutting out the things you love the most.