How to stay frugal, not just now but next month, next year, next decade?
How do you avoid the temptation to increase your spending a little bit once you’ve got your money sussed?
We need to start at the beginning.
Why are you frugal or trying to be frugal?
Perhaps you have become frugal because you have had debt you were determined to pay off. Or you had an income cut that you needed to deal with.
Some people want to learn how to be frugal just because, but they are very much in the minority.
Most of us start out with frugal living because we’ve backed ourselves into a corner with over spending and poor decisions.
To be honest though, it doesn’t matter why you start on the frugal road, nor does it matter how long you’ve been on it.
The key point right now is that you are questioning yourself on how to stay frugal and avoid the temptation to spend.
Temptations can grow bigger if left unchecked so you want to knock them on the head and stick to your plan to stay frugal.
How To Stay Frugal For The Long Term
Once you have embraced being frugal you can see the difference it makes to your finances.
Debt gets paid off, savings start to build and you are planning for your long term future.
But staying frugal can be hard if you started out because you had to and you haven’t quite left your old spendy ways behind you.
All frugal folk struggle with continually trying to be frugal, believe me! It can be hard to consistently watch your pennies when others don’t seem to be. It’s called frugal fatigue, it’s very real and something you can definitely overcome.
Once you are no longer stressing about how to pay your next due bill you will relax a bit and this is when the enjoyment of spending money, just because you can, can rear up.
It’s a slippery slope though.
If spending money is still a joy to you then it will be very easy to slip back into spending more money on a regular basis and before you know it you’re back where you started with debt and stress.
These thrifty tips and tricks to keep you staying frugal long term will help you stay the course and keep your spendy ways firmly locked up.
16 Tips On How To Stay Frugal For The Long Term
Develop Your Frugal Mindset
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.
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 start out on the frugal path it is almost always from a starting point of debt or difficult finances.
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), it can be hard to embrace frugal living as the new, long term way to live your life.
It can be very easy to see it as a temporary thing, to be dropped as soon as your debt is gone.
To stay frugal, long term, you need a strong frugal mindset to keep you going when the temptations come along.
Know Your Why
When you started out looking at how to be frugal you will have sat down and thought carefully about why you were doing so.
Debt and money stress are likely to have been in your thoughts.
Your why was probably something along the lines of; to become debt free or; to be debt free and have money in the bank.
But how to stay frugal when your debt has gone? When you do have a few savings?
You got yourself to this point through learning how to live simply and cheaply.
But if you stop it and go back to how you used to live, what do you think is going to happen?
You’re going to start spending too much again. You’ll rack up new debt, have new money stresses.
Your why is still important.
Remembering it, remembering how hard you worked to get to this point will help you stay frugal and avoid temptations both now and in the future.
Make It A Habit
Habits are your way of being organized.
I consider myself to be fairly lazy, I don’t want to do the housework regularly. I don’t want to be hauling in logs and coal every day.
By building habits around many things in my life I no longer have to think about them in a negative way.
They just happen.
The bathroom is cleaned every time I condition my hair.
The coal and logs are brought in first thing each morning before I sit down with my cup of tea (I’m British, it’s very important to sit down with your tea, not sip it hurriedly in-between other tasks!).
The kitchen is wiped down and tidied after every meal is made.
All done without thinking.
The same goes for how to live simply and cheaply, and stay frugal.
Make many of your frugal activities into habits, things you do without thinking or questioning.
If you clip coupons to save money, do it every time you pick up the paper, don’t pile the papers up and make it into a bigger task.
When you meal plan, do it on the same day every week
When you track your spending, do it very regularly, don’t wait for weeks and then try and back track.
Leaving tasks to build up make them a chore to do.
Do them very regularly and they are bite sized habits you do not need to think about.
Save A % Of Every Paycheck
Automate your savings and do it so that the money leaves your account the day or day after you get paid.
You don’t want to have to think about saving money, just make automatic deposits into your savings account and crack on with your life.
Live Below Your Means
When you live below your means it simply means that your total outgoings equal less than what you have coming in.
Spend less than you earn and save the rest.
Living below your means is the secret to how to stay frugal.
It’s when you start living to your means or worse, living beyond your means that problems creep in.
Focus On The 3R’s
The 3R’s for helping the environment are: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
But those same 3R’s are also the mainstay of frugal living.
Being frugal you are all about making best use of what you already have (Reuse) rather than going out and buying more (Reduce).
And if you haven’t got it then you think of a way to use something else to do the same job (Recycle and Reuse).
When you buy something used you are also following the 3R’s – namely recycling.
Buying something secondhand is recycling in it’s best form. You are making great use of something someone else can no longer use.
And buying used means you are getting it for so much cheaper than if you bought it brand new.
Buying used is one of the best frugal living tips that I encourage you to follow. It helps you reduce the impact on the environment when you need something ‘new’.
It’s very easy to pop into a shop, any shop, for one thing and then see something else that becomes an immediate need.
Yet you didn’t enter the shop for this second thing so is it really a need or is it a want?
To stay frugal, keep to the plan of delaying your buying decisions.
Some people swear by the 30 day rule but if that feels like way too long and something you won’t stick to, then consider implementing a 72 hour delay.
Delay your spending on everything above a certain amount (say $20 or $50) and see whether you actually still need it 3 days later.
The 30 day rule can be helpful for big ticket items, things that cost a bigger chunk of money like $100+.
Shop Out Of Season
Frugal people plan. They meal plan, they gift plan and they plan their shopping to maximize their savings.
Shopping out of season requires some forethought.
Like buying your swimwear when it’s 3 degrees outside and your bikini body is wrapped up in many layers.
My buying for Christmas starts in January. By buying the Christmas themed items like cards, gift wrap and Christmas gifts I can save 50-80% of the cost.
When you are always planning ahead and not reacting to this week’s thoughts you can save a lot of money. It’s one of the best tips for living with very little money. Always be planning ahead.
Don’t throw the towel in on your frugal journey just because you spent a little too much money this week.
It’s very tempting I know to say, I give up, I’ve blown the budget so I might as well keep on blowing it this week and I’ll start afresh next week.
Doing that makes it very hard to stay frugal.
Because you may well end up with a big overspend but more importantly you’ll have given in and overspent quite a few times.
When I am on a health eating regime I have my slip ups.
A biscuit or 3 finds their way into my hands. And it can be very easy to say, I’ll start again tomorrow and keep on overeating today.
But we both know that makes it all the more harder to start again and be successful tomorrow.
Embrace & Enjoy Frugal Living
You’ll always know how to stay frugal if you actually really enjoy knowing how to live cheaply.
Why would you stop if you love all the thrifty tips and tricks you have learnt?
Why would you want to get spendy when you enjoy reading about the best frugal living tips and seeing how you can incorporate more of them into your frugal life.
Love your frugal life and you’ll never have to worry about how to stay frugal or avoid temptations.
Because they will stop being serious temptations and become just a mild want occasionally.
Love Being At Home
Your home is where you can practice being frugal as much as you want.
Don’t be hankering after lots of activities outside the home that cost money because they won’t help you keep to your goals.
Love being at home, doing things at home, for free or cheap.
I love generic brands and value brands. They can save you and I so much money.
I buy very, very few branded products, especially when it comes to groceries.
Generic brands are usually the stores own brand, they are significantly cheaper than the premium or branded products.
For many groceries and medicines you could save 200% upwards on the cost. On each product.
When you embrace generic brands you are embracing frugal living and the premise that these items are good enough.
Become A Planner
“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”.
Plan on doing things the frugal way and you will stay frugal.
Stop planning or fail to plan things out and you will end up having to spend more because you haven’t planned enough to take advantage of low prices or out of season sales.
One of the simple ways to stay frugal is to always be planning your next move. Plan your money, your financial goals, your meals.
You name it, you plan it.
The more you plan, the more in control you stay. Being in control is how to stay frugal for the long term.
Don’t Rely On Credit Cards
Credit cards can be very useful. You can earn points, rewards and even cashback by using them regularly.
But if you don’t pay off the balance in full EVERY MONTH then they stop being a credit card and become a debt card.
Because debt is what you have when you are carrying a balance.
Either be in the habit of always paying your balance in full or develop the habit of not using your credit cards at all.
That way using credit cards doesn’t turn you back into an overspender.
Create Clothing Uniforms
I had a work uniform for 15 years. It wasn’t something I was given, it was a uniform I created in order to both save money and time.
My uniform consisted of navy and black skirts and jackets and various blouses.
I didn’t have to think about what to wear each day to work because it was either a navy or black week.
The only thing I had to do was pull out a clean blouse.
Uniforms, whether for work or at home save money and time.
You don’t seek out new clothes or follow the latest fashions because you are comfortable with the clothes you have.
How To Stay Frugal Among Friends
Being a reformed spender can cause a few problems when it comes to friends. Because it’s highly likely your friends are spenders, as you were.
You don’t need to go find yourself new friends but it pays to think about how you can stay frugal whilst keeping your friends.
Tell Them Your Goals
Your friends root for you. They want you to succeed in whatever it is you want.
So tell them your goals. Tell them why you want to be frugal and stay frugal both now and in the future.
If your goal is to pay off debt then of course your friends want that for you. They want what you want, that is why they are your friends.
Never Say I Can’t
Don’t apologize when you say no. It’s your right to make the right decisions for you and they are nothing to apologize for.
Nor should you be saying I can’t because it’s not quite true is it? You can but you are choosing not to by prioritizing your money elsewhere.
When you need or want to say no, just say it simply without a bunch of flowery words around it.
It’s not in your plans right now.
You’re prioritizing your money differently this month, you get the picture. Explain without apologizing.
Suggest Cheap or Free Alternative
But of course saying no to certain events with friends doesn’t mean you give up socializing with them. Of course not!
It’s an opportunity to do things a bit differently. Suggest alternatives that are cheap or free.
If your friends were thinking of going out for meal, why not hold one at someone’s house and everyone contribute?
If the weather is good, why not a picnic in the park instead of being cooped up in a restaurant?
If your budget allows for some socializing with friends but not much, then avoiding drinks or sticking to water can really help you stay frugal whilst still socializing.
Drinks without a meal can be very frugal if you are either the designated driver or go without alcohol.
If you are out for a meal with friends then sticking to just water could halve your contribution to the bill as 3 drinks can easily add up to the cost of a main meal.
Remind Them What You Are Aiming For
When you’ve been at it a while then your friends may forget where you are at and why you are being frugal.
Don’t take offence, it’s just not on their radar so a little reminder won’t offend them.
How To Stay Frugal Now And In The Future
Once you’ve got into the habit of being frugal you have two choices.
Give up being frugal and run the risk of going back to square one with your finances (you don’t want that).
Or work out how to stay frugal and focus on the thrifty tips and tricks that help you do that.
Need Help On Your Frugal Journey?
If you are interested in being more frugal, more deliberate with your money, making your money stretch further.
Then why not sign up for my free email course where you learn how to build strong frugal foundations.
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Last Updated on 25th September 2021 by Emma