A frugal lifestyle is not something that you can just decide to do overnight. In most cases, learning how to live frugally is tougher than you think because it involves a complete turnaround of your consumerist way of thinking.
But the thing is, excessive consumerism have led to most Americans being in debt. We have gotten used to the idea that bigger is better. While that may be true, we have pursued it blindly despite the fact that bigger is something that we truthfully cannot afford.
The time has come for us to embrace the idea that frugality is the way for us to correct the bad habits that consumerism have deeply engraved in all of us.
But what exactly does a frugal lifestyle mean?
We found a simple yet spot-on definition in one of the articles on PTMoney.com. It defined frugality as making intentional choices with your spending. It is very clear when it said that it is not about being cheap. Although your goal will be to spend less so you can maximize your limited income, you will be doing that not by being cheap. What you will do is to define what you think are the important and priority expenses and separate them from those that are not. Those that are not included in your priority list – those are the expenses that you will be cheap with. That is because you have decided that these are unnecessary expenses and that removing them from your life will not benefit you at all.
A frugal lifestyle, when implemented correctly should not deprive you. That is because you will make sure that the expenses that are important to you will be funded. But even that decision to fund it will still be done wisely. For instance, a home is an important expense but frugal thinking will tell you that you do not need it to be too big for your needs. It will just be right and frugality will teach you that being excessive does not mean you are better off. You will learn how to be content and accepting that will make you feel surprisingly free.
2 important characteristics of frugal living
The same article from PTMoney also said that the importance of living a frugal life stems from the fact that we need to correct our spending habits. Unless we find a way to change that, it will not matter how much we earn. We will always be at a deficit because we do not know how to spend our money wisely.
That is why you need to start learning how to live a frugal lifestyle. But the thing is, this way of living does not come naturally. Consumerism is something that a lot of us got used to that changing it will be a struggle.
But the good news is, this change is possible – if you do it one step at a time. There are two important factors that you can concentrate on first and you will realize that accepting the frugal changes will be a lot more easier to adapt to.
The first factor that you should concentrate on is learning how to manage your money. If you find it hard to wrap your head around the changes that frugality will teach you, then you can focus on something less intimidating – like money management. If your financial management skills suck, you will find it hard to start a frugal lifestyle. So you need to start by learning the right financial management skills.
Managing your finances begins with a budget. You want to check out both your income and your expenses to see how it fits together. Is your income higher than your expenses? Or is it the other way around? If your expenses are greater than your income, then you need to correct that. Your budget will help you accomplish this task by showing you just how much you are capable of spending. You can distinguish which expense is the priority and which ones you can let go off. Looking at your budget will help you organize your finances so you can make better spending choices.
Financial management in a frugal lifestyle is not only about budgeting. It is also about smart spending and most of all, saving. If budgeting is about planning, the implementation of financial management is manifested in your spending and savings. When you have these things covered, then you are making the first important steps towards a frugal living.
The other factor that will help make a frugal lifestyle easier to implement is debt reduction. Take note that we are not saying you should eliminate debt. You still need debt to be present so you can keep your credit score up. This will come in handy in your financial life. But we are encouraging you to reduce your debts so it will not compromise your finances as you are trying to implement frugality. A frugal mindset will frown at wasting money. That includes wasting it on unnecessary interest rate payments. So get rid of your high interest debts so your money will not be wasted on making your creditors rich.
According to the latest study done by TransUnion.com, consumers have started to prioritize taking on secured debt instead of acquiring credit card debt. The latter is notorious for encouraging unnecessary spending and high interest rates. This change in the consumer payment pattern is said to be influenced by the Great Recession. This is a good sign because it shows that most of us do not look at debt as the cause of our problems. We learned that it is our own financial behaviors that got us in debt.
Realizing the role of our behavior in financial success is the key to implementing frugality. That is because frugal living is all about changing your behavior.
Frugal ideas that will get you out of debt
In most cases, people are motivated to live a frugal lifestyle because they want to get rid of their debts – or at least get it under control. Frugality can help you save money so you can increase your debt payments and thus pay off more of your balance.
Here are some frugal ideas that you can use to help solve your debt situation.
- Conduct a yard sale. This will help you organize and declutter your life and at the same time, earn extra money to send to your creditors.
- Choose to save the change that you have at the end of the day. For instance, any quarter that you have at the end of the day should go straight to your piggy bank. Whenever this bank is full, send this extra money as payment for your debt. Then fill it up again.
- Use coupons. These are great tools in frugal living. If you think that those coupon ladies on TV are weird – well they are not. They are in fact, more wiser than you think. Couponing is a great way to save money so you can grow your debt payment fund. And it is actually a growing industry. According to an infographic published on Visual.ly 2 out of 3 Americans have used coupons in the past. If you haven’t done the same, then you are part of the ⅓ who have yet to enjoy the benefits of couponing.
These are only a couple of the things that you can do to help yourself pay off your debt faster. Although a frugal lifestyle is not devoid of debt, it is definitely not ruled by it.