No one ever said that being frugal would be easy but, if you’re in debt up to your eyeballs, or don’t ever want to be, being frugal is one of the best ways to take care of the former and the latter.
Some people have a much easier time being frugal because they were lucky enough to grow up in a family where frugality was practiced, and they learned the value of delayed gratification rather than instant. On the other hand, we live in a society where instant gratification is the norm, and most people have to learn how to be frugal because they certainly didn’t learn from their parents.
Today’s blog is about learning how to become more frugal and trust us, over time, it gets a lot easier. Enjoy.
First, like anything you have to practice. When you first start exercising or start a new diet, it takes a few days and even a few weeks to get used to it, and the same goes for being frugal. At first your body and especially your brain will work against you, and old “triggers” will get in the way, but over time being frugal become much easier if you practice.
One of the main tasks that you have to learn when training yourself to be frugal is how to say “no”. You’re going to have to use that word a lot so get used to it. If you have children, you’ll be saying it even more and, at first, they might not like hearing it. (Actually, most children never liked hearing the word but, with time, they’ll get used to it.) You’re going to have to say it to yourself too (although not out loud or people might start to wonder if you’re losing it).
Do you really need that new pair of jeans? No. Does your daughter need a new Barbie doll, or your son another Lego set? No. Do you really need to go to Starbucks five mornings a week and get a $7 mocha grande cappuccino with cream? No.
Now, don’t get us wrong, occasionally it’s okay to say “yes”. If you really do need some new clothes (especially if you need them for work) it’s ok. If your daughter did well on her report card or your son just got an A+ on an exam, and it’s in your budget, saying yes every once in a while is not only possible, but the small reward will keep you from having a total lapse of conscience and destroying your budget.
Being frugal means keeping your car an extra year or two, eating out a lot less and cooking at home a lot more, and putting as much extra money aside as possible into savings, retirement funds, 401(k)s, IRAs, emergency funds and so forth. It means clipping coupons on the things that you use most, making a list of all of your tasks and then doing them all on the same trip rather than running out several times a day, and finding ways to exercise at home rather than joining a gym.
Again, over time and with practice, being frugal gets a lot easier and even rewarding. As you see your debt being paid down and your savings and/or retirement accounts getting bigger, you’ll feel a lot better about being frugal because you can see the fruits of your labor. Not only that but you’ll have a lot less anxiety without all that debt hanging over your head.
One last important note about training yourself to be more frugal is possibly the hardest; not trying to keep up with friends, family and neighbors. The simple fact is that we live in an age of consumerism, and consumerism does not mix with frugality. if you can get past trying to “keep up with the Joneses” your fight to be more frugal will be much easier to win.
You might just inspire others to do the same but, even if you don’t, keep it up. While no one might ever thank you for being frugal, just the fact that you’re not swimming in debt can really help you to sleep better at night, and will help ensure that your kids learn about it too.