When you think of frugal living, what comes to mind? If you’re like many, you imagine Ebenezer Scrooge keeping all his money to himself. But true frugality isn’t being miserly. According to Merriam-Webster, frugality is the act of being “careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to”. It is being intentional about your spending. Proponents claim that it provides them with a lower budget but a higher sense of satisfaction with their life of less “stuff”. If this sounds like something you need in your life then read on.
Extricate the Clutter
The first step to becoming more frugal is to remove every item in your life that isn’t serving a positive purpose. This includes the items in your home and storage, extra spending in your budget, and time wasters on your calendar. If it’s something you haven’t used in several years and won’t in the next few, donate or sell it. If it’s broken, recycle it or throw it away. Most of us have more items than we will ever use and clearing these out will save space. The next item to clear is extra spending. Examples of ways to save include disposable items that could be replaced with re-usable items (such as paper napkins instead of cloth), going out to eat, eating pre-packaged foods, and taking the car when walking or the bus would do. If you need more tips for saving money, The Telegraph has a few ideas. The final items to cut are the time wasters. What hobbies or activities are taking up your time but not adding emotional value? Cut those out of your life to free up time for activities that bring enjoyment to your life.
Envision Your New Life
The fun part happens now. Sit down and think about what kind of life you really want to live. Is there something that you always wanted to do? A career choice you opted not to pursue? Now is the time to envision what kind of life you should be living. For most, it’s dramatically different than the one that’s currently being lived. Identify activities that could be added into your life or your family’s life. More walks to the park, a new hobby, or a new job might be on the list. For others, it might be as drastic as moving into a new home or changing cities. Whatever it is that would bring meaning to your life is what should be added at this point. If you know you want to cut drastically but aren’t sure if it’s possible then your next step should be to do some research. For homes, you can get information at Miller Countrywide about buying and selling in the UK. For frugal tips, try Moneywise.
Execute the Plan
The third step is to actually implement the changes that are needed. For frugal living, this is making and sticking to a budget. It means cutting the extra expenses, selling items, downscaling, or whatever else is needed. Frugality means changing your habits, spending less time doing activities that bring you stress, and spending more time on activities that connect you with others. When do you spend money, buy only what is actually needed. Holding positive goals in your mind can help you keep your momentum. Whether your financial need to is to save for college or pay off debt, keeping goals in mind as you scrimp helps maintain momentum when things get tough. And finally, make sure you and anyone else in your household are on the same page. The last thing you need is to work hard on a budget only to find out that your significant other isn’t ready to give up that cable bill or latte habit.
The final step is to enjoy yourself. It’s easy to get so caught up in scrimping that you never focus on the gains. Most proponents of a frugal lifestyle cite their ability to plan for events rather than react to them as a big perk. They experience an increase in gratefulness and contentment, feelings which are scarce when you’re running under a model of mass consumption. So sit back, drink some coffee, and enjoy the people and experiences in your life.
Frugality is not for everyone. If you’re willing to pursue it, the benefits of financial and emotional freedom outweigh the temporary loss of more belongings or another cable channel.
Molly Howarth practices budget planning as part of her job and is always keen to share her ideas and tips on how to make the most of your income with an online audience. She is a frequent contributor for a number of consumer finance websites.