I don’t normally post about money or frugal living, but it’s an area that I am becoming more and more interested in so I kind of figured why not? Why not help guide others towards making better decisions financially? We all need to know how money works in order to truly master our lives.
For starters, I am not perfect when it comes to frugal living. There are times where I will still enjoy my overpriced $5 coffee from Starbucks or an expensive, yet totally unnecessary purchase on Amazon.
Other times, I will shop at the nearest JCPenney because I simply can’t justify going into a retail store and paying $75 for a pair of jeans. There are times where I even have difficulty spending $2 on a bottled soda in the checkout line (as if my $5 purchase at Starbucks is more justifiable).
Still, though, I consider myself a pretty frugal guy. I used to feel ashamed when people called me frugal, but now I am starting to see that it’s just a way of life. I am just someone who likes to live simply and economically. I know what my financial goals are for myself, and I have chosen to live a lifestyle that is going to help me achieve those goals in what I hope to be a shorter length of time.
If you’re new to frugal living, let me share with you some tips that have worked for me. It’s important to remember that we are all a work in progress. Sure, we may make some financial mistakes along the way, but we just envision our goals, get right back up, and continue onwards in a way that’s going to help us achieve our goals.
A Beginners Guide To Frugal Living
For all of you out there who are just getting started, here are six principles to keep in mind as you start to live the frugal lifestyle — it’s a sort of beginner’s guide that we’ve all had to learn (and often, relearn).
1. Change Your Mindset
It sounds simple, but it’s an adjustment that we all need to make. Your money does not control you. You control your money!
Whether you have a few hundred dollars coming into your hands every few weeks or a few thousand, your money simply won’t get up and walk away from you. You control your money, and you control what happens to it.
You might be thinking about all of the bills that you have racked up. Well, as much as it pains me to say this, all of your bills are a reflection of the choices you have made. That new car payment was a choice. Student loans were a choice. Your mortgage payment that is out of control is a choice. Where our money goes is nothing but a reflection of the choices we have made.
The good news is that if you feel stuck now, you don’t need to feel this way forever. Change your mindset about money now, start avoiding the shopping sprees that are going to set you back even further, and take control of the decisions you are making on a daily basis.
2. Pace Yourself
If the thought of frugal living stresses you out just thinking about it, start small. If you are having a difficult time finding a balance between frugal living and enjoying your life, start small.
For starters, if you are someone who needs to go out with friends and spend $100 on dinner every weekend, continue to do so as long as you can afford it. Just find other areas of your life in which you can cut back on, such as Starbucks. Make your coffee at home where it costs $0.25 per cup instead of $5. Over the course of the month, this will save you an additional $143 per month.
The point isn’t to go all in and set yourself up for failure. It’s to ease your way into it and to start being smarter with your money one purchase at a time.
3. Know Your Money Goals
A goal without a plan is just a wish. Know why it is you want to start living a frugal lifestyle. Think about how living a frugal lifestyle now will impact your life later on. This isn’t to say that you should disregard the present moment to save for a day that is all but certain. This is to encourage you to enjoy life now, but also don’t go broke so that you have to miss out on experiences in life later on.
Saving money, in general, is a very vague goal. Know how much you want to save. Know why you want to save it in the first place. Know what you are going to do once you have enough saved. What will saving now allow you to do later on? Is it for an earlier and more comfortable retirement? To start your own business? To finally pay off student loans or a mortgage? To just sleep better at night? Know your money goals and they will help you to make smarter choices.
4. Sacrifice The Unnecessary
Not everything, just the unnecessary things we all spend far too much money on.
Living a frugal lifestyle doesn’t mean saying “no” to everything. It simply means that you understand your priorities so that you can do more of the things that you actually want to do without financial stress weighing you down.
It’s still important to treat yourself and to splurge every once in a while. We are human. We deserve to enjoy ourselves. If you feel like going out for lunch on a Friday after getting paid? Go for it. You can because have made smart financial decisions the rest of the week, so now you can actually afford to go out and treat yourself.
5. Create A Budget
Yep, it’s probably the easiest thing you can do to track your finances. All you need to do is track how much money you have coming in on a monthly basis, and then track how much money you have going out to the various bills you have.
The nice thing about keeping a budget is that you will then be able to see how much money you have left over so that you can avoid the risk of going broke. You can also decide how you want to use that money. If you have $500 left over, maybe you decide to save $250 and then use $250 as spending money.
When you have a clear idea of how much money you have coming in and how much you have going out, it becomes easier to see where you can cut back and how you can do a better job of managing your money.
6. Track Your Progress
Why not track your progress? Use the numbers you are seeing as motivation to continue to make strides towards living a financially independent life.
I know for me, the hardest part is always getting started. But once I take that first step, it almost becomes a game to me to see how far I can go. I keep track of everything so that I don’t lose motivation. When I see everything laid out, I have to look and see what mistakes I am making, or am proud of myself for the progress I have made.
Either way, keeping track of my spending habits and my savings has been a great way to keep me motivated. The only caution I have with this is to not let the money control your life. Find balance, treat yourself now and then, but also be smart about preparing for the future.
Before You Go
There you have it — six tips that will help you to live a more frugal lifestyle and achieve your financial goals a lot earlier on in your life. More importantly, these ideas will help make frugality a permanent part of your life, instead of something you dive in and out of as your fortunes change.
Everybody’s road is going to look different. You are going to start out with different amounts of debt, with different income streams, and with a different yearly income than others. Embrace the successes of your new lifestyle. Embrace the failures you are going to make along the way. Embrace the road that is ultimately going to help you get to where you want to be in life.