I get very frustrated when I see people talking about how to become frugal and they fail to mention the most important thing – your frugal mindset.
Without working on you, your thoughts and ultimately your frugal mindset you can never be really frugal.
Because you (and your thoughts) will likely sabotage your success.
Being frugal is more about your mindset than your bank balance and your budget.
Your mindset, how you view your situation, can make or break your chances of success.
That’s not to be negative but please understand that becoming frugal is not something that gets done to you, it’s what you choose to do, willingly.
It goes without saying that you can of course change your mindset to one that is free to frugal to your heart’s content.
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Why You Need A Frugal Mindset
To be successful in becoming frugal, sorting out your finances and saving money you need your mind to be totally focused and positive about frugal living.
If you fight against it you will undermine any success you have.
I know that when people say they want to be more frugal it is almost always from a starting point of debt or difficult finances.
And I guess if that wasn’t the case they wouldn’t be pursuing a frugal life.
The problem with being in these situations is that you can feel like you are being forced to change how to manage your money, whether you like it or not.
And none of us like being told what to do, do we?
Because your starting point is one of negativity (debt, stretched finances), in order to be successful you need to let go of all of the negativity you hold about why you need/want to be frugal.
Only by truly embracing your new life can you succeed with all your financial goals.
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The Benefits Of A Frugal Mindset
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.
If you look around you, many people are not frugal.
They have debt and 2nd jobs and loads of stuff that keep them chained to a job they don’t like.
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.
It stops you from trying to be frugal and getting it wrong.
To not worry about what others might think if you don’t eat out twice a week, have brand new cars every 3 years or buy this seasons fashion statements.
You gain freedom of thought.
You feel more able to choose how to be frugal.
How to live your life, rather than trying to fit in with others around you.
You won’t care if others think you are a bit weird or different.
So what? You think.
I’m not in debt and I have savings in the bank that’s what is important to me.
7 steps to develop a frugal mindset
1. Educate Yourself
The saying “you learn something new everyday” is so true.
You can learn how to become frugal through reading frugal living blogs like mine, or reading frugal books or talking with others.
I’ve been frugal for 30 years now and I still learn new things every day.
And yes, I was like you and was forced to be frugal (and hated it initially) because I was couldn’t stop being poor.
It took me a long time to develop a frugal mindset, I wish I’d have got it sussed from the get go, but of course we have to learn from our mistakes first.
Not everything you read or learn will either apply to you or fit with your current situation.
The key is finding what works for you.
These are the 4 frugal books I attribute a lot of my success to.
For me they stand the test of time and are still as useful today in keeping my frugal mindset sharp, as they were when they were written.
2. Do It Yourself
When you achieve something you get a rush of feel good endorphins and these help you push yourself a little bit more in order to achieve that bit more.
Apply the same process to how you do frugal.
Don’t pay others to do something you could learn how to do yourself. DIY instead.
Whether that’s looking after your own garden/backyard, cleaning your car or doing house maintenance.
All of these things can be done by anyone who takes their time and does a bit of research.
In the old days you would research by reading books with basic diagrams.
These days you can watch, pause and rewind YouTube videos and tutorials on just about anything.
3. Question Yourself
When you are about to buy something ask yourself these three questions:
- Is this in my budget or will it blow it?
- Do I actually need it? Or is it just a want?
- Can I find it cheaper elsewhere?
Given that your starting point is likely to be from one of overspending, these questions will help you re-train your unconscious habits of free spending.
Learning how to stop spending money on unnecessary things is essential to becoming the best at frugal living you can.
There is nothing wrong with buying something you want, if you can afford it.
But if you can’t afford it or you have decided it’s not in your budget this month then you need to develop the ability to walk away from these things.
4. Say No
How often do you say no to yourself or to others?
If you’ve got kids, you probably say no on a very regular basis but we often struggle to apply the same word to ourselves.
So you end going out for a drink with friends when you can’t afford it.
You pick up a takeaway instead of cooking at home because your kids wanted it.
You cannot afford to say yes to every spending opportunity.
What you need to do is say no, you need to do it more often and you need to be comfortable saying so.
Because the reason you are here right now is that you have said yes too often and have the debt to show for it.
Saying no should in theory be super easy to do but it’s not is it?
Saying no can feel negative and you don’t want others to think badly of you.
This is one of the tests for your frugal mindset.
Grow accustomed to saying no. To yourself, to friends and even to family.
You don’t have to horrible about it.
Just a nice, brief “sorry it’s not in my budget to do that this month, but thanks for asking” will suffice.
Nor do you need to explain yourself.
Your willpower and ability to say no will increase the more often you do so.
If you would like more help in developing your ability to say no then these books will help:
5. Delete Your Credit Card
Who doesn’t have their credit card details auto-saved by their computer?
It makes buying online incredibly fast and easy, one click and everything is filled in.
You don’t ever need to get your card out of your purse.
But that doesn’t help you learn how to be frugal with money. It just makes giving in to temptation way too easy.
Clear your cookies and your auto filled information from your computer.
That way you remove a little temptation and add in extra steps if you are going to buy online.
Extra tip – unsubscribe from all your favorite store’s emails. You don’t need them to tell you when you should buy something.
If you are in the market for buying something you know where to find your favorite stores website.
6. Find Your Frugal Tribe
Someone once said (I forget who):
“You are the sum of the 5 people people around you.”
What they meant was that we like to have people around us who think, act and spend similarly.
When you change any one of these, you need to find others are now like you.
You don’t need to dump your old tribe, just find a new one to fit with the new, frugal you.
New people can be through real life, internet, forums, or Facebook.
Being able to touch base with others who are on a similar journey as you provides you with support.
7. Treat Yourself
Changing how you live your life and your spending habits is a big deal.
Learning how to be frugal and living below your means so you can pay back debt or build some savings can feel hard in the beginning.
This is why it is really important when building your frugal mindset to treat yourself sometimes.
Not to often mind and not too expensive.
A little treat every now and then (possibly as little as monthly) gives you something to look forward to and helps keep your focus on your plans.
If you are on a tight budget then your treat could be something free or something for a few pounds.
The key thing is that you consider it a treat and you feel rewarded when you have it.
8. Go Generic
Being practical, what you buy (because buy you must) can make or break your budget.
If you are used to buying premium or branded products now is the time to make the switch.
You could be paying up to 300% more for an almost identical product.
Generic food products are often made with the exact same ingredients just different packaging, from branded goods.
But cost much less, as in up to 400% less. My favorite example for this is canned (baked) beans.
Here in the UK the prices in Asda Walmart for a 400g can are:
Value brand Asda own brand Heinz (premium) brand
22p 29p 85p
Now, don’t be telling me that branded products are better, taste better etc. Sometimes they taste a bit better but often all they taste is different.
I’ve seen too many blind taste tests where the premium product comes out way down the taste preference list.
Even more interesting is that it is often beaten by the value brand. Yet the price differential came be 300%.
The 2 questions you have to ask yourself and give good thought to are:
- Is the different taste actually BETTER or just DIFFERENT? and,
- If the taste is better, is it better enough to justify the increased cost?
A Frugal Mindset – How To Become More Frugal
As you grow your frugal mindset the chances are you will naturally develop your money saving skills and the ability to be more frugal.
But of course there is a wealth of knowledge that you can tap into to help you be frugal with your money.
These posts are a great starting point:
Set Yourself Free To Frugal With A Frugal Mindset
You can achieve anything you set your mind to.
Maybe you have a ton of debt or are about to start living on one income.
Whatever your situation, when you create your frugal mindset you can change your whole life.
Go from being an overspender to a super saver.
Always remember that you are in control, you just might need to change who you is a little bit.
For more help subscribe to my Frugal Foundations Framework and learn how to kick start your frugal life and fast forward to a more frugal, money saving you in just 5 days!
Come and follow me on Pinterest for more money saving hints and frugal tips!
Last Updated on 2nd May 2021 by Emma