First and foremost, let’s determine the correct definition of the word Frugal: economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful. This is according to the Dictionary.com site I used here.
Now, let’s dive in a little bit deeper. Over the past few decades, it has become increasingly un-popular and against societal norms to be “frugal” However, I think a lot of people mis-interpret the definition. To me, the definition indicates someone that is not wasteful with what they have, someone who is careful of of the usefulness of things. So in essence, then you could say, that someone who is frugal, is possibly helping mother earth more- right?? Let’s discuss this example: If its frugal not to use paper products, because they cost extra money month after month, and they do not serve a purpose after their initial use, and you just toss them in the trash, causing more waste in the landfills, and causing more rain forests to be chopped down, then in this instance, being frugal-is helping to save mother earth, while saving money. I am sorry for my ramblings, I hope you were able to stay with me there. LOL
In a world where consumerism often prevails, adopting a frugal lifestyle has become increasingly attractive. Frugal living is not just about tightening the purse strings; it’s a deliberate choice to spend mindfully, save intentionally, and ultimately achieve financial freedom. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the essence of frugal living and explore practical strategies to help you start saving money today.
Understanding Frugal Living:
Frugal living is a mindset that prioritizes value, resourcefulness, and conscious spending. It doesn’t mean deprivation; instead, it’s about making thoughtful choices to optimize financial resources. By embracing frugality, individuals can break free from the cycle of mindless consumption and pave the way for a more secure financial future.
Create a Budget:
At the heart of frugal living is the creation of a realistic and actionable budget. A budget serves as your financial roadmap, providing a clear overview of income, expenses, and savings goals. Identify non-essential expenses that can be trimmed down or eliminated altogether. This foundational step sets the stage for effective money management. I can help you with this one, you can comment here on this post, or send me an email, or click on this link right here, and I will send you over a FREE budget and guide. Its my pleasure to help you to get started on this path that has helped my family and I for the last 10+ years. We have managed to pay off our house, our cars, and have minimal debt, all because we followed most of these tips.
Distinguish Needs from Wants:
Frugal living encourages a critical evaluation of needs versus wants. While needs are essential for survival, wants are desires that may not be imperative. Prioritize spending on needs, and carefully consider whether a purchase aligns with your long-term financial goals. This mindful approach helps curb impulse spending and encourages a more intentional use of resources. This one is so tough for some people. It still is super difficult for me. Do I need that cute sweater that I saw yesterday at my local boutique? NO, but I sure do want it- really bad!! LOL Decisions are super hard sometimes, and adulting is hard every single day! (insert tantrum as my 4yo self) If you are in a season of abundance, and comfortable with where you are in your wealth journey, its ok to splurge once in a while…. but it is not ok to talk yourself into buying something because you deserve it, or you want it really bad, or Sally Sue’s husband would let her buy it… No Ma’am, you ditch that mind-set right now missy (said in my most authoritative mom voice)! This is an era of saving, and learning to be frugal and comfortable in doing so.
Embrace DIY and Homemade:
Frugal living often involves a return to the basics, including do-it-yourself (DIY) projects and homemade alternatives. Explore simple recipes, basic home repairs, and crafting. Making items at home not only saves money but also fosters a sense of accomplishment and self-sufficiency. I love to DIY and luckily for me, so does my 9yo daughter. We sit down and do projects together and it gives us time to spend together bonding, and we actually are productive. Some things I like to do is sew, garden, cook from scratch, small woodworking projects, and have a home gym (saves on gym memberships). Find out what you like to do, things that you may want to try, or things you may already love, implement them here in this step, and this step will become super easy and fun for you.
Frugal living doesn’t mean abstaining from shopping altogether; rather, it’s about shopping strategically. Look for sales, discounts, and use coupons when possible. Consider buying generic brands, and be cautious of impulse purchases. Online price comparison tools can be valuable resources to ensure you’re getting the best deals. I do NOT cut coupons! I cannot do it, I have tried and I fail time and time again. I think at this moment, I have 4 coupons in my purse and every single time I go to the store, I forget to use the dang things. Could I do better at that- YES, is it worth it to me- NO. So, you find your own ways that you can save money and shop and cut costs, you will be so proud of yourself when you see that online cart drop because you found an online coupon code, its so rewarding. (yes I do use online coupons)
Cut Unnecessary Subscriptions:
Evaluate your subscriptions – streaming services, magazines, and other monthly expenses. Identify those that no longer align with your priorities and cancel them. Cutting unnecessary subscriptions is a quick and effective way to free up funds for more essential aspects of your life. Do you really need Netflix, Hulu, Disney plus, prime, HBO, and Sling? Choose one or 2 subscriptions and be content with that, find other things to occupy your families time. You will save money, and likely become a better person in the process.
Prioritize Quality over Quantity:
Frugal living doesn’t mean sacrificing quality. In fact, it encourages prioritizing quality over quantity. Invest in durable, long-lasting items, even if they come with a higher upfront cost. Over time, this approach proves cost-effective as it reduces the frequency of replacements and repairs. I buy a lot of things second hand, or cheap, but there are a few things in my life that I will not budge on. For example, I must have good quality comfortable shoes, if my shores are not comfortable, I will not wear them, period! Also, we grow a lot of our own food, and have chickens (for eggs only), we also deer hunt and eat the meat, but the fresh items I buy from the store, will be organic, or the best quality I can find. It is super important to me what I put into my body, and what I give my family.
Build an Emergency Fund:
One of the pillars of financial security is having an emergency fund. Frugal living emphasizes the importance of saving for unexpected expenses. Start small by setting aside a portion of your income each month. Over time, this fund acts as a financial safety net, providing peace of mind and protection against unforeseen circumstances. Emergency fund, smurgency fund, I hear you, but listen, no one can predict the future, especially these last few years, inflation has been insane, the housing market has gone up and down, absolutely no one knows what is going to happen next. So take this step seriously, set aside at least 3 month’s worth of funds for you and your family to live comfortably, incase the need arises. You may never need this fund, I pray you don’t, but if you do, it will be extremely useful, and you will thank me later! If you don’t ever use it, then no big deal, use it for the kids wedding later in life, or put it in a CD and let it earn interest.
Explore Second-Hand Options:
Frugal living embraces the idea that new doesn’t always mean better. Consider exploring second-hand options for clothing, furniture, and other items. Thrift stores, online marketplaces, and community swaps are excellent places to find quality items at a fraction of the cost. I absolutely adore going into a Goodwill store, or my local Habitat store, I love to find a good bargain on things and I get downright giddy when I find a good deal, even a brand new item that I may of been looking for. I recently found a white milk glass lamp from a local “antique” store for only $10!! I couldn’t believe it!!
Conserve Energy and Resources:
Frugal living extends beyond financial aspects to environmental consciousness. Conserve energy and resources by practicing energy-efficient habits, reducing waste, and embracing sustainable practices. Not only does this benefit the environment, but it also contributes to long-term cost savings. As a mom of 2 kids, I know all too well about the effects of waste. It seems like on some days we fill up a trash can every single day! But we try to implement ways to save even when we do use paper products. Like writing our names on our plastic cups, so we can re-use them, or re-using a paper plate that may not be dirty at all.
Continuously Educate Yourself:
Finally, frugal living is an ongoing journey of learning and adaptation. Stay informed about personal finance, explore new ways to save, and share experiences with the frugal living community. Continuous education empowers individuals to make informed decisions and refine their approach to achieving financial goals. We should be constantly educating ourselves on one topic of usefulness or another of our choosing. We are built for learning, and like it or not, your brain needs it. Don’t waste hours of your precious time scrolling on Facebook, or various other platforms. Do something useful with that beautiful brain, learn a new skill, read a new book, make more money at home!
Frugal living is a transformative lifestyle that goes beyond mere budgeting; it’s a conscious choice to shape a more intentional and fulfilling financial future. By creating a budget, distinguishing needs from wants, embracing DIY, shopping strategically, cutting unnecessary subscriptions, prioritizing quality, building an emergency fund, exploring second-hand options, conserving energy, and continuously educating yourself, you embark on a journey towards financial freedom and mindful consumption. Plus, to me, frugal living is fun, its a way for me to challenge myself to see just how savvy I can get with my money.
Ask yourself some of these questions to help the ease the process:
Do I need that?
Is that a want?
Can it wait?
Can I make it myself?
Can I find it cheaper?
Can I borrow it?
Will this make my life easier?
Will this cause more clutter or stress?
In adopting a frugal lifestyle, individuals not only secure their financial well-being but also contribute to a more sustainable and mindful approach to living. As you incorporate these principles into your daily life, you’ll discover that frugal living is not just a financial strategy but a holistic and empowering mindset that enriches your life in ways beyond monetary savings. This may sound intimidating, you cannot possibly implement all of these at once, and yes I agree, that would be extremely difficult. So here is a tip, pick one or two and start there, then add in a couple more once you feel comfortable. Also, you don’t HAVE to do all of these on the list, pick the ones that may work best for you and your family and go with those. Just start somewhere, pick one and go!! Get creative, have fun with it, it doesn’t have to be a chore. I would love to hear your ideas, please comment below and let me know some of your ideas! See you next time!