Being frugal can get a bad rap. People can become confused with what being frugal means and therefore shy away from it in case they are labeled as cheap by friends and family.
Frugal living can change your life in so many positive ways that on one level I don’t understand why everyone is following the lifestyle. Who wouldn’t want to be frugal if it means your life is so much more positive?
One of the problems is frugal living is often portrayed in the media in a negative light as something ‘different’. The media love to tell us all about extreme cheapskates and the lengths some people will go to save a penny.
And often make out that not only are these frugal people cheap and eccentric, they are to be looked down on and pitied for not being ‘normal’.
Yet when a frugal person tells their story about leaving their job early or taking off round the world on a fun trip they are told they are lucky. They’re not lucky, they have been frugal in order to achieve what is important to them.
How To Become Frugal
Some people are frugal from the get go, perhaps because of their upbringing or because it just clicks with them from the moment they become an adult.
For many of us though, being frugal comes about because you hit hard times. Bills remain unpaid, debts are piling up and stress levels are rising because you are living beyond your means.
I didn’t start my adult life with the intention of living frugally but becoming a teenage single parent meant I didn’t have any money. Nor did I, thankfully, have access to much credit to get into massive amounts of debt.
I was on welfare benefits after my daughter was born and no better off when I went back to work because of childcare costs. I didn’t know what frugal living was nor much idea about how to manage my finances.
I resented not having enough money to buy my daughter clothes. I didn’t have holidays or even days out. My time off with her was spent either with family or at home.
I dreamed about having more money in order to buy more stuff. I certainly wasn’t thinking about how frugal should I be! More, how can I jump back on the bandwagon of spending lots of money like everyone around me.
Frugal living, when you don’t have much money, can creep up on you slowly until some years later you realize that being frugal and all that it means applies most definitely to your lifestyle. And that’s OK!
What It Means To Be Frugal
I’ve talked about the frugal lifestyle and living within your means in many posts but let’s just remind ourselves what being frugal means:
Wikipedia explains frugality as being:
The quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the consumption of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance.
I know that being frugal will mean different things to different people but I think we would all agree the above definition sums it up nicely.
For me being frugal simply means being thoughtful about your money, regardless of how much you earn. Ensuring your money has a purpose and you don’t spend for spending’s sake.
If you earn decent money then your frugal life will likely be different to someone who earns minimum wage.
How you achieve frugality will be different, but that’s OK because we are all different. We’re human and we all have our own foibles and eccentricities but we can all benefit from what frugal living has to offer us.
5 Wonderful Ways Being Frugal Will Improve Your Life
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Being frugal gives you back the power over your money. You no longer need to be a slave to your job, your wage and chase very penny.
Financial empowerment is about taking back control of your financial future, so you make the decisions about your money, not your money dictating to you.
Financial empowerment is freeing. It frees you from the worry of how to survive until your next paycheck. It frees you from the worry about how you would cope with a financial emergency because you haven’t got a rainy day fund.
You have got money in the bank, in savings, in your retirement pot and you live a life that ensures these remain central to your life.
So many people are living paycheck to paycheck with no idea how to change things. You take on debt because everyone else is. You buy more stuff because everyone else is.
But it doesn’t make you happy, not for long. And then you have to pay for it.
Financial empowerment is not about having lots of money, it’s about your mindset and the control you have over what you do with your money.
You decide what you will spend money on. You choose what are the most important things in your life and you spend accordingly.
For us, becoming financially free was really important. We didn’t want to be wage slaves until we were 68. We wanted out of the rat race as early as possible.
Being frugal and taking back control of our money has helped us achieve that dream.
We aren’t millionaires and we don’t live a millionaire lifestyle. We will always have to be careful (frugal) with our money but we are happy to do that in order to realize our dream of moving to the country and not working a 9-5.
If your goal is to be financially free and secure then frugal living will help you achieve that goal.
Stress is a modern day health hazard. I know it’s said that low levels of stress can be good for you but I disagree with the levels of stress we see around us now. I don’t know anyone with low level stress any more.
When you are stressed your body reacts physically in a negative way and you get sick.
Stress causes you to react badly in so many situations damaging your relationships and friendships which in turn affects your mood and your happiness factor.
It makes you less efficient in what you do, in your work and stops you from focusing on what you want to achieve.
Frugal living reduces your stress because you stop trying to fit everything in. You live according to your life goals and stop doing things just because you think you should.
One of the biggest stress reducers that frugal living provides is relief from stressing about your finances. Financial stress can be overwhelming for so many people.
The worry about how to pay your bills never leaves you if you are spending more than you earn and building up debt.
Embracing frugality helps you to stop worrying about money and reduces your stress levels and that is a wonderful thing to achieve.
You Become More Patient
We live in a society that demands everything NOW! We have drive-thru’s, coffee on the go, on demand movies and TV, instant this and instant that.
Such that the concept of delayed gratification or waiting are not mainstream ways of thinking.
Want a new car, a loan, a holiday? You can have one today. But you’ll pay big for it because you haven’t waited and saved up for it.
Being frugal means you will delay buying something until you can actually afford it. You won’t go putting it on your credit card so you can have it now.
You are happy to wait for it, ensure you really want it and buy it when you have saved up the money.
We rarely (if ever) go to the movies to see the latest release. Nor do we buy the movie as soon as it is released on DVD. We are patient and wait for it to be shown on TV.
That is of course if we remember to watch it. As in all honesty, movies aren’t the be all and end all of our life so we don’t want to be spending money on watching them when we have better things to focus our money on.
Life Is More Positive
I cannot stress enough how much more positive your life can be when you live frugally. When you combine being less stressed, more patient and financially empowered they result in a super positive mindset and whole life.
Being free from money worries, from keeping up with a consumerist lifestyle, from constantly striving for more is so freeing it’s wonderful.
You have time, space and energy to concentrate on the things that are important to you. Having the time to devote to your family, to friends, to JUST BEING.
Friends and family take precedent over buying stuff and working long hours. You can be so much more in the moment with your time spent with family that you get to enjoy that time so very much more.
You Are More Resourceful
When you follow a frugal lifestyle one of the challenges you will often face is how to create/fix/do something without spending money. It’s not that you refuse to spend the money, it’s about thinking – can I do this without spending money?
You challenge yourself to find new ways of doing things. Except it’s often the old, traditional frugal living skills you will learn and fall back on. Skills your grandparents used everyday because that was just how it was.
You look to fix things rather than spend money to solve the problem. You embrace more eco friendly frugal habits. The 3 R’s are you starting point:
You become more resourceful as you get creative in your thinking. Re-using items for a different purpose or up-cycling something to create something new is all about embracing your creative side.
Being resourceful means you are able to fix things for free or pretty cheaply thereby negating the need to buy a replacement.
I am blessed being married to Mr2p. He has oodles of common sense and can overcome almost any problem you present him with. He has fixed lawn mowers, replaced multiple greenhouse panes and built furniture to fit awkward rooms.
He’s a carpenter by trade so has a head start on problem solving to most of us but will have a go at anything in a bid to save money. YouTube has made life so much easier for you to find the solution to a problem and watch someone else do the fix first.
Is It Bad To Be Frugal?
Heck no! Is my short answer. Frugal isn’t being cheap. You don’t stop spending and constantly go without just because you’ve become a frugalista. It isn’t bad to be frugal but it is bad to be cheap.
Being cheap is about saving money at the expense of others. So you would deliberately dodge your turn to buy drinks. You would deliberately not return things you’d borrowed or pay back money you had been loaned by friends. That’s bad.
None of those things have anything to do with being frugal. They are about saving money at the expense of others, looking out for yourself but not considering the impact on others. Just don’t go there.
You can live a cheap life without being cheap. Living cheaper is about finding ways to spend less money, getting things for free and living a different kind of life.
How Can I Become Very Frugal?
There are a million and one ways to live frugally. Check out my post on 110+ best frugal living tips for inspiration on things you can do. The more you do the more frugal you can become.
To take yourself to the level of extreme frugal living requires a further concentration of your mindset. You need to be willing to go against societal norms.
Becoming very frugal is easy on one level, just do or not do certain things. But on another level it is much harder because you will seem eccentric to friends and family. You will likely stand out more from the crowd because of how you live.
If you are comfortable in plowing your own super frugal path then go for it. It’s your life.