Frugal Living Can Help You Clarify Your Goals
The definition of frugal is:not wasteful.
I see a lot of people turn their noses up and immediately dismiss being frugal – and even direct nasty comments towards those who practice frugal living, especially frugal bloggers. Personally, I think anyone who lives an extreme frugal life is amazing – I couldn’t do it! I’ve tried before and I struggled, but to be fair there were other things going on which attributed to that – I am still incredibly frugal, but I have eased up a bit on it.
Frugal living refers to saving money, as much as you can – stretching every pound to see how far it can go. Already I bet some of you reading this are thinking, “no thanks!” but please bear with me.
In society today, we are encouraged to spend all of our money on new cars, big houses, clothes every week, gourmet meals, nights out, days out, entertainment…is it any wonder most people don’t have any money left to save?!
There are plenty of frugal blogs out there and extreme frugality ones, but my blog is dedicated to saving money as best as you can, as well as earning more money to pay off your debt and live a rich life. Frugal living blogs are more about saving money and being content with the small amount that you purchase.
When I was living a more extreme frugal life, it wasn’t through choice. I had a tiny income and could simply not afford to buy anything. The thing that I struggled most with was not having a car (or money for any kind of transport) so I could not take my young daughter on any trips or days out. What it did teach me though, were the things that were important to me in terms of what I actually wanted to spend money on.
As previously mentioned, it is easy to go through life without much thought to your spending habits, and wonder why you are unable to achieve your financial goals. This is where frugal living can help you.
If you live on the smallest amount that you can, you will find that eventually (hopefully!) your mindset will begin to adjust. This is very important, because it is difficult to do – our mind is a powerful thing, and our habits dictate much of what we do and achieve. When your mindset changes and embraces the small things, such as going for a walk in the woods with your family on a sunny day, and having a great time – you will realise that there is much joy to be found in simple living.
You will realise that selling your household items brings you in extra cash, as well as less time tidying up or cleaning, and you will look to get rid of even more stuff! Your mind will whirr into action to think of all of the things that you can do that will save you money, and this can help relieve your stress. For example, meal planning and creating simple dishes will mean no more stress about having nothing in the cupboards to eat.
Practicing frugal living can open you up to a whole new way of living, that can be more satisfying than the one that you were living before. You will probably find that you spend more time with your family, and get your hands dirty fixing things yourself instead of calling up a handyman – which is great for a sense of accomplishment.
Even with children – it is a pretty well known fact that children love playing with things like cardboard boxes – sometimes more so than the toy that has come in it! There have been studies which show that having more toys actually limits their imaginative play – I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember any of my toys from childhood, but I do remember playing outside with my friends and having the best time.
There are even small things that you can do such as walking down to the shop or to drop your children off at school, instead of jumping in the car for a very short journey – the fresh air, exercise and money saving from this are completely worth it.
Keeping up with the Joneses can be a real problem – but you will most likely find that the people who are sharing their lavish lifestyle all over social media, may not be as happy as they make out to be. Don’t look at their social media – find some frugal bloggers and look at their photos instead.
Once you have lived frugally, the habits can become ingrained within you. The best thing about this? The fact that you will now have clarity on what is really important to spend your money on, from a personal point of view. As mentioned, it can be really easy to sleepwalk through life just handing over your money for everything and not really questioning it – but frugality can challenge that and make you come to realise what you value.
For example – I realised that I cannot go without a car. I did it for 4 years, and it was horrible! There are many people however, who have no need for a car, but may spend money on something else that I wouldn’t bother with.
For myself, a car is important because it gives me more of a sense of freedom and allows me to not rely on others. I use it for food shopping, taking my daughter to her swimming lessons, hockey and driving to work. None of these trips are huge distances, but they are more than I enjoy walking – for example to walk to my daughters swimming lessons used to take 45 minutes each way and that was with me pushing her in a pram. I am not willing to go through that again every week!
Living frugally is not a choice for everyone, but this is aimed towards the people who have average incomes and are not happy with their spending habits.
If you are trying to reach a particular financial goal, frugal living can help you to achieve that. The reason I say that frugal living can help you clarify your goals, is because I don’t feel that it is necessary to live that way your whole life – but I do think it is important to get on track with your finances, and this can help you achieve that.
It is easy to think of excuses why you do not want to live frugally, and you may think that you already have clarity on your goals – but I challenge you to give it a go, and you will surprise yourself. A great way to try it out is to do a ‘no spend month‘ – which is literally spending nothing for a month (apart from bills obviously). You may think that you already don’t spend that much, but I have found that the people that struggle even when they are earning a decent income, are spending money on something almost every day.
Have a month where you spend nothing, get your groceries as cheaply as possible by meal planning and other meal saving tips, sell your junk, stay active with free activities such as going to the park, gardening, beach trips, geocaching and more other great ideas.
If you are having a no spend month, you may think, what happens if something breaks or I need something? Well, this is where your resourcefulness will need to kick in. If something breaks, there are many Youtube tutorials out there for fixing things. If you really do need to replace the broken item, see if you can get it for free.
Ask friends, family, look on places like Gumtree (under the Freebies section), Freecycle, Freegle, Facebook selling pages and see if you can find the item – you will be surprised at what people give away for free! Another great thing that can happen if you are trying a no spend month, is that you won’t be able to buy the things you want to buy – so you will have to wait. Waiting means that you will come to buying it and really think about if you actually do need the item.
Just for clarification on this blog post also – I am not telling you that you cannot buy anything ever again, or never have any fun, or that you don’t deserve to spend your money how you wish.
What I am trying to say, is that spending less money on the things that don’t matter to you, means that you will have more money to spend on the things that do matter to you, and make you truly happy.
When you remove all of the nonessentials from your life, you will quickly realise what is essential to your happiness and well-being. If that’s a takeaway once a week, then that’s completely up to you – but maybe you will surprise yourself in finding out you don’t actually need it after all.
Has anyone else found frugality has helped to clarify your goals?
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