These days being frugal isn’t something that comes naturally to most of us.
Yes, we can be frugal, and yes, we can save money, but it doesn’t happen naturally or easily. And it’s often because we HAVE to be, due to stretched finances.
In fact if you are reading this, chances are that you are looking for inspiration. Because you know you need to be frugal but as for loving it?
Well it’s just not happening right now.
And your money situation is telling you that not only do you need to be frugal, it would be best to be so for a long time.
So not only do you need to cut costs, for your own sanity you need to love it and embrace it wholeheartedly.
And I get that. I may be a long-time frugalista but I wasn’t born frugal, nor did I grow up to be a naturally frugal adult. Like you I turned to being frugal because I had to.
I had no money and no access to credit (or debt) so had to make ends meet.
And no I didn’t love being frugal to start with, I was itching to spend more money as soon as I got it.
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The Battle Of Frugal Vs Cheap
I have no doubt that some of your reluctance to embrace frugal living is because of others around you. Being frugal for some people has very negative connotations.
It’s like there is an ongoing battle of Frugal vs Cheap, and cheap keeps winning because no-one really understands frugal. Everyone thinks they both mean:
- Doing without
- Always being cold and having no heating
- Never having a holiday
- Penny pinching for pinchings’ sake
- Never leaving tips
- Swiping condiments from fast food places for later use at home
- Being tight with your money toward others
Let me reassure you, there is a wealth of difference between frugal and cheap.
Being cheap says more about your personality than your bank balance.
Being frugal is all about making ends meet. You are living below your means so you can live the life you want, not get into debt and feel secure about your money situation.
How To Be Frugal And Love It
So how do you go from learning how to be frugal because you HAVE to, to loving it and embracing all that it can be?
It’s simple, but it’s also not so simple.
Let me explain. Being frugal is more about your frugal mindset than your bank balance.
Rich people are often very frugal yet they have plenty of money. If you look at what rich people do then you can see that much of it is about how they view money, life and the importance of non-material things.
Your mindset, how you view your situation, can make or break your new habits. I don’t mean that to be negative, because it’s not.
YOU can make all the difference to your personal situation when YOU put your mind to it.
Creating Your New Mindset
It’s all very well for me to say, it’s all about your mindset, but how do you get the mindset you need in order to be controlling your finances the way you want and need to?
I don’t have the perfect answer because obviously you are involved in this as well. But I’ll do my best to give you the tools you need to make it happen.
Create Challenges For Yourself
When you challenge yourself, and achieve, you give yourself a real buzz of self-satisfaction. And that gives you positive feelings and a bit of warm fluffiness.
(Best way I can describe it, sorry!)
Because you are challenging you, no-one loses except you if you don’t achieve. Your challenges don’t have to be hard, just something that makes you think a little, maybe take you out of your comfort zone.
You can try no spend days as a challenge, especially good if you are used to spending daily.
Or if you already tend to have no spend days just because that is how your life is organized, then try another no spend challenge. A weeks worth of no spending would be a good stretch.
I challenge myself at micro levels, just because. These are some of my regular challenges:
- Never buy large bags of crisps for more than £1 (they are usually £1.99)
- Don’t turn the hot water on in the shower until I get to the rinse stage, even in winter
- Complete 10,000 steps at least 5 times each week, regardless of the weather or how busy I am
- Don’t pay for car parking
By challenging yourself on a very regular basis, especially challenges that are connected to saving money in some form, you are building your resilience.
Being resilient means you can bounce back more quickly from adversity and are more adaptable. Great traits to have.
Gain Inspiration From Others
Seeing how others live successfully with little money can be a game changer in your outlook.
But more importantly she gave me an insight into how she lived her life, how she approached money challenges and how she got over them.
Some of her tips are a little dated now (the book was written in the 1990’s) but most of it is still relevant today.
YMOYL is not so much about the best frugal living tips, it is more about your mindset. It discusses some of the reasons why you should want to live differently to others and spend less money in your life today.
Other books have provided me with hints and tips but these two are by far my favorites. If you read no other frugal books then read these two.
To save money try and get them from your library for free or buy used on Amazon.
Learn New Skills
The traditional skills of yesteryear are missing from many modern homes. How many people mend their clothes, make their own bread or barter with their neighbors?
Learning the traditional skills of our grandparents generation helps you to be self sufficient and increases your ability to look after yourself.
Whether that’s sewing on a shirt button, an oil change or preserving food. These skills increase your capabilities and make you a stronger person.
They also save you money, because you don’t need to pay someone to do these tasks. Win, win.
Make Saving A Game
Games are fun and enjoyable. Games where you set the rules even more so. Make saving money a game. Whether that’s just for you or you get your partner involved.
This might sound really sad but one of my games is to see how long I can make a tube of something like toothpaste last AFTER it seems finished.
I will squeeze diligently to get an extra 3 day’s worth. Then I will cut the tube open and carefully use up every scrap.
Now you might think that’s tight. But why would I waste toothpaste that I have paid for just for the sake of a tiny bit of effort?
And look how much fun I have doing it!
Another not so extreme game of mine is to never buy something without finding some sort of voucher or discount code.
In the US you will want to be using Swagbucks, Ibotta and Ebates.
Start Saying No
Unless you are a millionaire you cannot afford to give in to lifestyle creep and say yes to every spending opportunity.
If you look at what rich people do, they don’t say yes to everything, they quite clearly say no, on a regular basis.
You need to say no. You need to do it more often. And you need to be comfortable saying no.
When you say yes to all the demands on your money, you end up with not enough money to do what you think you should be able to do.
You feel restricted because your money situation is stopping you from doing these things. Being comfortable saying no will help boost your mindset and build your resilience and money saving muscles.
If you are going to need more help in developing your ability to say no then these books will help:
You can buy The Art Of Saying No here (try and get a used copy to save money)
you can buy The Power Of NO here (try and get a used copy to save money)
Simplify Your Life
Have you noticed how everyone is so busy these days?
Kids are busy with numerous out of school activities, parents are busy chaperoning their kids and fitting in work, social activities and regular meals out.
All of these activities cost a big chunk of money. Move away from cramming every spare minute of your time with yet another activity and slow down.
Simplifying your life isn’t about becoming bored. It’s about taking the time to enjoy what you do have in your life more. Kids enjoy their lives just as much without daily, organised, expensive activities.
And adults can and should enjoy some down time.
Do you ever stop doing? Spend time just appreciating what you have, what is around you? Simplify and enjoy the simpler things in life.
Which happen to be either free or much cheaper than endless activities.
Think Long Term
Right now you may be feeling poor. And saving money month after month might feel hard. But your mindset needs to be about the long term.
It’s not about what you don’t have today or tomorrow, thinking like that won’t help you create a positive mindset.
Think about the long term. The future you. The you in your 50s, 60s and 70s.
Changing your money habits now could be the best present you can give the future you.
Because in the future you won’t have debt, you will have savings. All because you didn’t focus on spending all your money right now. Instead you planned for your future and ensured you were managing your finances.
Be Inspired For Your Frugal Journey
Be hopeful, be inspired, be ready to make the changes you need to make to create your new mindset.
A mindset that takes you away from overspending and towards your new, more powerful life of being frugal.
You are in control of your mindset and that’s a good thing. No-one can stop you from becoming a frugalista and a money saver, only you.
It’s on you to do this and I know you can do it, after all you’ve made it this far which proves to me that you are committed.
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