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You’ve probably heard the word ‘frugal’ before. More and more people are preaching on the importance and goodness of frugality.
On the other hand, there are people who are yet to have a clear definition of the word. Before we go further, let’s first understand what it means.
It simply means spending your cash on only what you need and making use of what you have. Sounds scary? Well, it isn’t. It might take some getting used to, especially if you’re used to a high-end kind of life.
When you’re frugal, you don’t spend your green unnecessarily. You open your eyes and view your finances in a better and conservative way. You’ve got control over your money and not the other way round.
Don’t confuse being frugal with being stingy. Those are two entirely different words. There’s a huge difference. Sure, frugal living may not be glamorous, but it’s the best life you can ever live if you have financial goals to achieve.
If you haven’t jumped on the frugal bandwagon yet, now would be a good time to do so. Where do you start? How do you live a frugal life and enjoy yourself while at it? In this article, you’ll find all the answers you need and much more.
1. Reuse as Much as You Can
Ordinarily, when you’re done with a can of soda, you toss it into the garbage and get another one if need be. Such a practice has an effect on the environment and it also affects your finances.
With frugal living, you have to master the art of reusing what you have. Start with something small to familiarize yourself with the whole concept first.
An excellent place to start would be from the torn clothes that you still own. If they still fit you, take a sewing needle and string and stitch them up.
Don’t worry if you’ve got no idea on how to go about it. With the internet, you can quickly get a tutorial.
Once you buy stuff, don’t be quick to throw away the packaging. They might be of use in other areas. For instance, empty milk bottles could do as vases, beautifully decorated and baskets that you no longer use could be perfect bins and the can of soda could do as a pen and pencil stand after a bit of washing.
You could get creative with your junk. If you’ve got skills, try making an ottoman out of a tire or mark your garden with wine corks. The options are endless.
Depending on your trash, there’s no telling how much fun you can have while saving money at the same time.
Reused items can last a long time if you take care of them properly. Chances are, someone might notice your skill and either ask you to train them or pay for the unique stuff. Either way, you have nothing to lose by opting for this way of life.
Budgeting creates the foundation for your frugal lifestyle and you can also use it as a weighing scale to answer questions like how much do you spend on daily needs? What amount do you set aside for wants? What about savings?
Identify where most of your cash goes. This can help you plan for it according to your preferred lifestyle. Plus, it makes it easier for you to control your savings and spending. If you’ve got no clue about how to make a budget, don’t fret. It doesn’t have to be fancy.
All you need to do is to highlight the essential parts: needs, wants and savings, and how much you spend on each of them. You can use an easy method like the 50/30/20 rule to guide you.
In this rule, 50% of your total earnings go to your daily needs. That is after you’ve worked out your after-tax income. 30% goes to your wants, and 20% goes into your savings.
Going with the list version for your budget could work too. After preparing the budget, identify those things you engage in that eat up a chunk of your finances. Also, be specific on stuff that you want and those that you need.
Then, take out those wants. You’re getting used to the frugal life, so it doesn’t have to be all of them at once. For example, instead of spending money on shopping, you could try thrift shopping. That way, you’re still doing what you love at a more reasonable price.
3. Trade Your Skills
What are you good at doing? Is it cooking, cleaning or mowing the lawn? Whatever it is, you can use it to your advantage. When it comes to frugal living, you don’t charge cash for your services. Unless you want to.
Instead, you perform a service for someone in exchange for them doing something for you too.
Maybe you’re good at cleaning, and you need a haircut. You could identify a friend who’s a barber and get them to cut your hair, and you clean their home for them.
You can barter with whomever you wish, but it’s always easy to try it with friends and relatives. Not everyone is open to the bartering idea.
Bartering has plenty of benefits. Here are some of them:
It Brings People Closer
Unlike buying and selling, bartering creates a bond between people. This could lead to a friendship. You learn to interact with people and trust them more.
It Increases Your Independence
If you’ve got a skill, you can use it in place of cash. Trading services helps you get what you need whether or not you’ve got the green.
It Is Enjoyable
Bartering doesn’t require formal training: just creativity and great social skills. What’s more, you don’t need to offer services only. You could trade your laptop for someone’s tablet for an agreed period.
It Is Satisfying
There’s a nice feeling of satisfaction that comes with bartering. Not only do you earn a service that you need, but you help out someone with a skill you have too.
4. Put Delayed Gratification Into Practice
Most people live a life of instant gratification. Factors like down payment and a little credit have are a major reason for this. Whether it’s the latest phone in the market or the newest car, they’re willing to get what they want at all costs.
You may have a couple of buddies who live this kind of life.
It sounds fun, but with time you’ll appreciate the importance of stepping back and thinking more than twice if you have to.
For a frugal person, discipline is essential and necessary. You can’t have something just because you want it. What value is it adding to your finances? Although you can have some frugal fun now and then, splurging cash is definitely out of the cash.
Delayed gratification can go a long way in your frugal journey. Here’s how it works: whenever you’re out minding your own business and see something you like, don’t be in such a rush to get it. Go home and sleep on it for two to three days.
If that period is over and you still have the urge to buy it, then by all means, go and get it. Just make sure that it doesn’t affect your budget.
The benefit of delayed gratification is that it helps you to reason. Many times after the 2-3 day period, you’ll realize that you weren’t into whatever you fancied before. That’s a super way to keep your money intact.
Items with a heftier price tag might require you to extend the waiting time frame a bit. Wait for a month before deciding whether you should buy them or not.
5. Go for More Affordable Options
There’s always a better way to enjoy what you like without having to spend a dime. If you love great food, pass on eating out. You can treat yourself to a wonderful meal from the comfort of your home.
Are you a movie junkie? Why go to the movies, when you can enjoy a movie night right at the comfort of your home? One of the benefits of watching a movie at home is you can keep at it for however long you want. You could make things interesting by having a couple of your friends over.
If a cup of joe is what gives you a kick, whip it up at home. Identify inexpensive stuff that makes you happy and go for them.
You may have seen a great fridge or TV and would like to get it. Try refurbished items. They’re not as expensive, and they’re readily available.
All you have to do is go online and research on how much it will cost you. Buy items that won’t upset your budget.
You can apply the same idea for clothes and shoes. There are so many attractive second-hand clothes and shoe stores that have what you need. With a little scrubbing, you’ve got yourself items that look as good as new.
When going for refurbished items, Ensure that the product is in tip-top condition before buying it. If you’ve got no problems with the few scratches on it and it doesn’t appear to break down any time soon, go ahead and buy it.
6. Do Things Yourself
What can you do pretty well that can save you money? Many times, we rush to the nearest repair person. Not because we can’t do the repairing on our own, it’s just that, well, it might require some effort.
The best way to live frugally without feeling deprived is to carry out as many repairs as you can on your own. Whether it’s the sink or your car broke down, there are many useful sites online that can guide you on how to go about them.
Perhaps your apartment needs painting. Save the money you’d spend on a painter. Buy some good quality paint and get to it. There are plenty of reasons why DIY is the way to go and here are some of them:
You Get Exactly What You Wanted
Most people do repairs because it’s their job. They don’t pay much attention to your personal preference. Doing something yourself allows you to get the result that you wanted.
It Helps you Feel Self-Sufficient
Getting things done by yourself is a great way to increases your feeling of independence. Youll feel prepared anytime less complicated needs some fixing.
You’re More Appreciative
Doing stuff yourself helps you appreciate things more. You know the effort it takes to make them work. Therefore, you try as hard as possible to take great care of them.
You Get the Sweet Feeling of Accomplishment
When you get something done, you’re happy with yourself and you feel that you’ve accomplished something, no matter how small it may seem.
You Learn Something New
Finding out how to do something and putting it into practice helps a lot. You expand your knowledge and should something similar happen, you can practice the skills you learned.
7. Entertain Yourself The Frugal Way
Entertainment is all about making yourself happy and you can achieve this without breaking the bank. Despite your preference, there’s something that you can do to occupy your free time in a fun way.
Just because you’re living frugally, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a good time. You’ll realize that there are more frugal ways to entertain yourself than you thought. Here are some fantastic ideas to try out:
Visit the Library
Although you might not like reading, there’s bound to be a good book that’ll keep you occupied. And you won’t have to search for long.
Have a Potluck
You could invite your friends and family over and ask them to bring some food. The more, the merrier. During this time together, you’ll have so much fun and, as a bonus, a nice dinner to go with it.
Attend Free Concerts
Do you live in a state that’s packed with rocking concerts? Take advantage of the offer. Such shows often occur several times in a year so you’re assured of great musical entertainment at no price.
Go for a Hike
It may not necessarily be on the mountains, but any open place with rolling hills. Hikes are a great way to explore nature and to keep in shape.
Try Game Night
With friends and family to keep you company plus an awesome line up of games, nothing could go wrong. Make it fun by asking everyone to bring their favorite game along.
Switch to Online Entertainment
Cable TV is expensive, not to mention inconvenient. Give online entertainment platforms a try. From YouTube to Ulive, you can never run out of fun things to watch. Search, find, press Enter and enjoy.
8. Put Yourself First
Once you’ve chosen to live a frugal lifestyle, you need to ask yourself why you chose it. Is it for fun or, would you like to have plenty of extra cash to achieve your financial goals and pay off debt?
If you’re in it to get more cash, the best way you can achieve it without feeling deprived is to put yourself first.
As soon as your paycheck arrives, take some of the cash and put it into your savings. As for the rest of the money, use it to clear your bills and sort out any debts that you might have.
It can get pretty tricky at times, so it’s best to budget for your money. Decide what amount you can dedicate to what purpose. Prioritize on the most important to the least important before you can think of yourself.
With debts out of the way, you will have more than enough for yourself and your needs. You could choose to keep saving for your future or invest it in something worthwhile that’ll bring you returns.
Having a clear guideline will help you get control of your money. Plus, you can always get an amount to treat yourself after you’ve achieved your savings goals for the week or month.
The beauty of frugality is that you don’t need to rush into it. Slow but serious steps will get you there. After you’ve achieved financial stability, you can decide if going frugal is the lifestyle that you still want to lead.
9. Get Your Priorities Right
It’s challenging to live frugally if you don’t know what your priorities are. Priorities guide you and keep you on track every time you’re in a tempting situation.
Once you get them right, you always know what to do with your money. Plus, you can easily spot habits that don’t add any value to your finances and avoid them like a plague.
Don’t mind if people tag you names like ‘cheap’ and ‘stingy.’ Living frugally is a path that you’ve chosen to follow and you’re the only one who knows the benefits of this decision.
How do you set priorities? It’s not as difficult as it seems. There are a few steps that you can follow when setting yours.
First, identify your needs and wants. This helps you understand where to focus more attention on. This will help you make any corrections on your choices. For instance, if the TV is a need to you, you can adjust so that what matters takes the top spot.
Second, write them down. Put them down on paper to make it easy for you to keep track of everything. You can then, stick that paper in various areas of your home. When you forget or feel like giving up, they’ll always boost your motivation.
Finally, start living by them. Choose to begin as soon as possible. Procrastinating only makes you lazy and holds you back.
You could review your priorities from time to time to see if you’re in the right direction. Now that you have priorities make it a point to spend on them at all times.
10. Bend the Rules Once in a While
Just like in budgeting, sticking to a frugal lifestyle can be a drag if you deviate a little. Sure, you’re trying to live a better life but you need some motivation to make it possible.
No matter how tight your budget might be, it’s essential to have some cheat cash. It could come from a couple of dollars you saved earlier on.
Or, that extra cash left after you crunched the numbers and settled all that needed attention. Whichever amount of money you choose to set aside, don’t be too strict with numbers. You could go over the edge a bit.
The frugal life allows you so much spare cash that you can use to appreciate yourself once in a while. Think of it as a reward for living right. You should never feel ashamed of your guilty pleasures.
You should never view treating yourself as unnecessary. It’s essential for some other reasons, apart from motivating you.
First, it’s a way of commending you for staying on the right path. It doesn’t matter whether you started last week or last month.
Second, you can easily stick to the frugal lifestyle. You know that once you’ve achieved another milestone, there’s a reward waiting for you.
Third and most important, it makes you happy. The frugal lifestyle can make you miserable if you’re too serious about it. Loosening up and bending the rules allows you to enjoy it more.
Embrace the Frugal Lifestyle
You’ve got all the information, now it’s up to you to live the frugal lifestyle and be happy with it. Sure, you may get some criticism for it, but with time, you’ll get used to it.
Start small to make it enjoyable. You don’t have to give up all your extravagant habits at once. Also, find as many ways as you can to make you happy as you go frugal.
If you were hesitant before, you can now see things from a different perspective. Do as much practice as you can and always remind yourself that it’s all for the best.
When you notice that you have enough cash to meet your needs, you’ll appreciate the beauty of frugal living.
If you’re yet to embark on the frugal journey, it isn’t too late to start now. Take control of your finances and start enjoying frugality without feeling deprived.