There was a (long) period in my adult life when a frugal lifestyle was a necessity, not a choice. I learned a lot from those lean times, and eventually realized that, regardless of income, there are actually reasons for choosing this lifestyle. Reasons that are about much more than just money.
Because being frugal is something we usually equate with a job loss, or other circumstances that require cutting out excess and pinching pennies, it can be difficult to understand that living frugally can be something that people might do by choice.
Being frugal can be a necessity or a choice. For our family, it is a mixture of both. We don’t have tons of disposable income – so there is a bit of necessity, but we also see it as a matter of good stewardship in the world around us and recognizing that we are a part of something much bigger than just being consumers. It’s part of our minimalist lifestyle.
It’s one thing to be frugal when you have no choice, and it can be pretty straight-forward. But how do you live frugally when it’s by choice, and the world is screaming at you to consume everything?
Five “Onlys” to get you started – whether by necessity or choice
Only Buy What You Need
It’s pretty simple: if you don’t need it, don’t buy it. But be careful: it’s easy to justify purchases when you confuse a want with a need. A true need is something that is needed for survival: food, shelter, clothing (or, related to being able to make money to meet those needs).
This doesn’t mean that you can’t ever buy something that you want. But it should be saved for and purchased after following the next 4 tips.
Only Buy What You Can Pay For
And note: can pay for does not include using credit cards; we’re talking with cash. Not only does paying with cash require you to save up for larger purchases, it makes impulse purchases less likely.
Only Buy After You’ve Compared Prices
I can’t tell you the number of times I have saved myself big money just by taking the time to compare prices. The internet makes it so easy to do, without having to drive all over town.
For example: I recently restocked our supplies for our home education. My initial thought was that I’d restock at the big box stores during back to school sales, but as I looked at prices and compared them to what I saw online, I realized I could save over $100 by purchasing them online. Sanity AND money saved.
Only Buy Something After You’ve Put Thought Into It
Impulse buys can add up quickly. Not just in your wallet, but also in your home. Always take the time to consider your purchase, especially when it’s a large item. Compare prices, assess if it’s a want or a need, and consider if you actually have a use and place for it in your home.
Only Compare Yourself to Yourself – not to the Jones
Comparison is the seed of discontentment and nothing good comes from that. Comparing ourselves to others tends to make us think we have to compete (read: spend more money to keep up.)
There is always going to be someone who you will fall short of, if compared to. The only person who you should compare yourself to is yourself. An honest self-assessment is always beneficial. Take note of the areas you want to improve and make the effort to do so.
Get this in check first, and then go back to the top of this list and work your way down.
Do you live frugally? If it’s by choice, how do you stick with it?