I hate it when I hear from people who have given it their all in their quest to try to be frugal and for various reasons it didn’t work.
They are left with a feeling of complete failure which is awful.
If you fail at something, it makes it doubly hard to try again doesn’t it?
And what makes it worse is that many people who try to be frugal are doing so because they are desperate.
Desperate to pay off debt, to stop living from hand to mouth, to start controlling their money.
So their money doesn’t control them.
You aren’t a failure when you try something and it didn’t work first time, far from it.
You just didn’t have the right information when you needed it to be successful straight off.
I am here to tell you that you can make frugality a success when you understand how to be frugal the right way.
Instead of believing the frugal myths, you need to understand what being frugal is really about.
And keep away from these 3 big mistakes (which I know you may already have made).
Why People Make Mistakes When They Try To Be Frugal
Most people who are looking for tips and advice on how to be frugal are doing so because they are in a difficult situation financially.
Sure, some people move towards this lifestyle naturally even though money is not an issue for them.
The reality is though most people start trying to be frugal because they have to.
It is often one or a combination of the following:
- You have debt and it’s getting worse
- You are living paycheck to paycheck
- Your income has suddenly dropped or been cut
- You are finding it harder and harder (nigh on impossible) to make it through to the end of the month
So you start researching what you can do to change your financial situation and frugality comes up.
Being frugal is all about saving money and living on less so it seems to be the answer to your problems.
Problem is, you are pretty desperate at this point.
You’ve got mounting debt, you don’t have enough money for the month and it’s stressing you out.
So you think being frugal will answer all your problems and once there are solved you can return to your normal life.
You look at being frugal as something you HAVE to do, right now, because you have no choice.
And we all know how we react when told we HAVE to do something don’t we?
We don’t want to do it.
We do it begrudgingly, we don’t put effort into it and we are focused on going back to our normal life as quickly as possible.
The key to you being successful in your frugal quest is your mindset. As in developing a frugal mindset.
When you think frugally, you act frugally. If you think you are going to fail, you will fail.
Fighting against being frugal will undermine any success you have.
Changing how you view your situation, your life and your life choices gives you the opportunity to start afresh.
A blank canvas if you like.
Many people are not frugal, they have debt, 2nd jobs and commitments that keep them chained to a job they dislike.
When you journey down the frugal road and become adept at stretching your pennies and saving money, you can let go of these things.
Your frugal mindset allows you to see things differently.
You gain freedom of thought.
You feel more able to choose how to be frugal so you can be a success not a failure.
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The myths about frugal living help you to hold on to that feeling of being made to do something against your will.
If you believe the frugal myths then you think that being frugal is about giving up everything you want or need, not having fun, being a total cheapskate.
No wonder people don’t embrace frugal living if they believe these myths. Heck, I wouldn’t either!
Let’s face it no one wants to be thought of as a cheapskate, someone who saves money at the expense of others.
I know many people start down this path because they have to, but you don’t have to jump into extreme frugal living.
There is no reason why you can’t do it on your terms.
Yes you have to change your lifestyle but no you don’t have to give up everything.
The 3 Biggest Mistakes People Make Trying To Be Frugal
1. Thinking They Must Do Everything At Once
There is an awful lot to being frugal. It’s not just about saving money on groceries (although you will).
Nor is it just about saving up for items so you don’t take out credit (although you will).
There is so much you can do to live frugally that the biggest mistake people make is to try and do it all at once.
I’ve written previously about the best frugal living tips but they aren’t the be all and end all of available tips.
They are just the best ones (in my view).
Trying to do them all, at once, in the same week at the same time though, is a recipe for disaster.
As much as I would love to say I got frugal real quick, the reality is it took me years (I was a slow learner) and I am still learning now.
It’s a fact that you just cannot go from being an over-spender to savvy saver overnight.
You are starting out on your quest to try to be frugal with your back to the wall, debts to pay and outstanding bills.
You will have the mindset of a spender and if you believe any of the myths about being frugal you will be thinking you are in for a life of sacrifice, deprivation and boredom.
You need time to develop your frugal mindset.
Time to work out the things that are going to work for you with your particular circumstances.
Time to practice and develop your frugal skills. Unfortunately it’s just not an overnight thing.
And expecting too much too soon will lead you to give up on frugal living because it didn’t instantly happen for you.
2. Buying Cheap Processed Food
Your grocery bill is one of the most flexible parts of your budget.
You can enjoy a very luxurious food menu or you can live on rice and beans every day. Each of these leads to a very different spend.
People often make the mistake of trying to cut their grocery bill too far, too fast and end up disliking everything they have bought.
So they go out for a meal instead.
The biggest mistake in the food department that people make is to buy cheap processed food.
It’s definitely cheap, I grant you that, but it’s not exactly the best food for you is it?
I call processed food, beige food, because almost all of it is a similar color – beige.
Think chips, nuggets, basic pizzas, dried pasta in sauce, noodles in a pot and so on.
Processed food is invariably full of salt, sugar, fat and devoid of the nutrients you need to be healthy in both mind and body.
A diet made up of these foods affects your tiredness and energy levels which in turns makes you feel negative about your daily life.
When you feel negative about life you give up trying to make positive changes and so giving up on trying to be frugal is almost inevitable.
3. Think It’s All or Nothing
So many people think you must do everything every frugal person does, ignoring the fact that not every frugal person follows every frugal tip.
Trying to be frugal is about making the right choices for you, and no-one else.
As an over-spender you don’t do everything other spendy people do, do you? (Hopefully not anyway!)
Being frugal is not a thing, a destination as such.
It’s all about the journey (cliché I know) and finding the right balance for you.
Many frugal folk wouldn’t dream of having 2 vehicles but guess what, we do.
And many, many people say you should give up cable in order to save money.
But we still have it and always have.
But then we don’t have Netflix or Amazon Prime and I wear 3 clothing layers in the house instead of putting the heating on.
It’s huge mistake to think there is a cookie cutter approach on what you should do to be frugal.
And I totally get why people would give up if they think they are failures because they haven’t done everything that they think a frugal person SHOULD do.
It’s never all or nothing. Nor is it an instant, overnight thing.
Is It Worth Being Frugal
It’s always worth being frugal! What’s not to love about not having to worry about money, having no debt and savings in the bank.
Yes, you have lifestyle changes to make as you take the journey but it’s fun.
You will learn to love living within your means as long as your develop that frugal mindset of yours.
Be frugal for the right reasons and do not carry resentment for your situation.
Therein lives negativity and the risk of going back to your spendy life.
How To Be Frugal
There are a thousand and one best frugal living tips (I’m not going to list them all here!).
The key is to find what works for you.
There will be an element of trial and error and that’s okay.
It’s like when you are growing up and trying to find your own sense of dress style.
You look and copy what others are doing only to realize a little later that it doesn’t quite work for you.
So you try something else.
Your eventual style is likely a mixture of many things you have tried as they were the things that you felt were right for you.
My key tips to help you be frugal are:
- Be happy and content with what you have, do not hanker after that which you don’t have or can’t afford
- Cut costs, never presume something cannot be cut or got for a little cheaper
- Control your spending, don’t let it control you
- Increase your income where possible, especially helpful if you have debt to pay off
- Understand that the less money you spend, the less you actually need
These posts are a good starting point:
How To Get Started With Frugality
If you are at the start of your frugal journey why not subscribe to my Frugal Foundations Framework?
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Last Updated on 10th May 2021 by Emma