Sick of living above your means? Relying on credit? Never getting anywhere with your savings? You need to adopt the frugal lifestyle.
The frugal lifestyle has saved many a spender. The art of frugality is not about being cheap, it is instead about being efficient with the money that you do have, so as to allow you to spend it on the things that are important to you.
It’s about choosing a lifestyle to avoid debt, reduce wastage, save money and be happier with what you have. It’s about being smarter than the person next to you when it comes to money.
This guide will serve as a how-to for those wanting to become frugal.
Table of contents:
- The rules of becoming frugal
- Understanding the difference between frugal and cheap
- A list of ways to become more frugal
- Action points to become more frugal
The rules of becoming frugal:
- Suppress instant gratification
- Seek efficiencies in life, money and elsewhere
- Embrace smart and cost-free options
These guiding principles are the key to becoming frugal.
While they may seem self-explanatory, they are rarely followed and can guide you significantly into a more frugal lifestyle. To be frugal, you simply need to make a life choice to follow these rules and enjoy doing so.
Suppress instant gratification. These are the wants in life. Things you may think you need, however in reality you don’t. Our world is surrounded by people who believe instant gratification is normal. Remember, it is not. Our grandparents never swiped a credit card to buy their first bed; instead they saved.
Seek efficiencies in life, money and elsewhere. Find ways to do things faster, cheaper and better. Gaining efficiencies in life will help free up time, money and resources that could better be diverted elsewhere. Like activities that make you more money.
Embrace smart and cost-free options. The frugal lifestyle is not a cheap one. It’s about finding financially smart and cost-free options, with intent to spend as little money as possible unless actually required.
The difference between being frugal and cheap
Quite often people don’t want to label themselves as frugal at the risk of sounding cheap. The two however are very different. Being frugal is about efficient living, both financially and otherwise, while being cheap is when you are simply unwilling to spend money or part with money at the peril of your personality and care for others.
A frugal person makes smart decisions on how and when to use their money.
A cheap person is miserly and focused so much so on money that they let it get in the way of their lifestyle and can be viewed as a person who in turn doesn’t seem compassionate or fun to be around.
A list of ideas and ways to become more frugal
Make things. Don’t turn to a retail store every time you need something. Can you make it? Can you do it yourself? Consider the sense of accomplishment you would feel by making things that would otherwise cost you money. Start small, like making your own meals from scratch if you normally eat out. Eventually, use your motivation to make bigger and greater things, like building your own deck, BBQ or even creating your own beer.
Borrow stuff. Before making a purchase, consider whether you can borrow the same item from a friend, family member or even local library/repository. Borrow books, borrow gardening equipment, borrow car washing equipment – become someone who borrows and lends out in return. Often people buy items brand new, when many a household has the item simply sitting around collecting dust.
Share your belongings. If you borrow, you must also share. Share your things that others need. The overwhelming feeling of generosity that sharing something can bring a person is incredible. Share your belongings if you want others to share with you, in turn saving you money.
Learn to swap and barter. If someone asks you for something, don’t be afraid to ask for something in return. It’s negotiation 101 and most people will feel better if you ask for their help in response to a request they need. If you friends need you to help them move into their new house, kindly agree but suggest you need a little help in return in the garden (or similar).
Re-use and re-purpose your possessions. Opt to avoid single-use or disposable items. Try and reuse everything you own, again and again. This could be as simple as using tea towel to wipe the bench instead of a paper towel to allow you to stop buying paper towels and save money. Mending is better than ending.
Grow. This refers to both metaphorically as a person (never stop learning, it’s the key to making money) and literally; e.g. grow your own vegetables and learn to procure basic items you often need. This helps you refrain from a lifetime of basic expenses that would otherwise be purchased from the supermarket (think herbs, easy to grow vegetables and so on).
Ask for help. Leverage your family and friends to ask for help at no cost. Whether it be the need for a babysitter one night, help in the garden or perhaps accommodation when travelling; if you offer the same in return to others, you can easily receive help at no cost.
Exercise self-restraint. Learn to say no more often. Seek happiness in enjoying what you ‘have’, not what you ‘want’. Make small but constant steps forward in your money saving endeavors and remember that every dollar counts.
Scavenge. Is a neighbour throwing away a set of chairs on their front lawn? Scavenge them. Do them up. List them on Gumtree and use every little scenario such as this to increase your earnings.
Action points to become more frugal and get ahead
Work to repay debts
Stop living with debt. List each debt and create an attack plan to eradicate the money that you owe. Consider the debt snowball method if you are unsure where to begin.
Work to reduce your spending
Reduce your spending, it’s like an instant pay rise that gives you back immediate cash flow. Find the fun in trying to spend as little as you can, or reduce the costs of common items you always purchase (whether it be grocery items or annual costs with insurance). Make it a game to hunt down the best deal and save the surplus money into your savings account (or pay directly onto your debts).
Work to reduce your expenses and direct debits
Look to cancel reoccurring expenses that guarantee your cash flow to be gridlocked. Assess regular direct debits and attempt to find ways to reduce the costs. If you haven’t got your bills set up on direct debit, look into it – it’s a great way to batch process and stay organised with your time.
Work to establish small but ongoing savings plan
Whether it be regular investments using Acorns, or simply cash into a high-interest savings account – set up a plan and never let yourself fail at making regular contributions.