Frugal Lifestyle Guide 1

What does Frugal mean?

After the holiday season a lot of people are going into debt. Christmas time has become a commercial enterprise where we spend mountains of money to prove we love someone. While the “true” meaning isn’t lost, the time to curb back is coming swiftly when those credit card statements come in. Frugality means scaling back. It means choosing to save money or cutting spending. If you’re being frugal it means you’re not spending unnecessarily.

Most people live up to their means. That means if they get a paycheck for $400, they “think” they can spend $400. The problem is that they don’t save that money and they make sure they spend that $400 before their next paycheck comes in. We’re all guilty of doing this, especially if we live in a small paycheck and it hinders us from saving any money because we’re in a mindset that makes us think we can afford up to that $400.

Cheap?

There’s a difference between frugal and cheap. Frugality is about living simply and without unnecessary extras. It’s choosing to wear that old pair of jeans until they have holes rather than buying the latest fashion each season. Frugal living is popular because many people are looking to cut corners and lower their spending money, especially with the economic situation how it is. It comes from the Latin for “thrifty”. It’s knowing that while we make $400, we can live simply on $300 or even $200. We’re capable of making cheaper choices and living on less but because either society says we need to flaunt our wealth or because we mistakenly think we need things to be happy — we don’t.

There’s a difference between “want” and “need”. We need things to survive, but we buy things we want because it makes that survival easier. Understanding the basics of these two when you’re buying things often means that you can choose to put things back and live simpler by sticking to your needs rather than your wants.

Why?

People choose to be thrifty for many reasons. Usually, it’s because they want to save money or because they want to pay down their debts. We live in a society that promotes credit cards and debt, and many people spend more than they make regularly. Being debt-free means that you actually keep more of your money because you’re not spending it on fees and interest.

Another reason you might choose to be thrifty is that you’re also being environmentally friendly. Buying less means less packaging, less being put in landfills, and less waste. Reducing your carbon footprint means you’re doing your part for climate change and the planet.

How?

Being frugal starts in small, simple ways. You can start by choosing to only buy what you need at the grocery store, and using store brand or generic instead of name. Coupons, discounts, specials, and sales on items that are necessities are also a good way to go. Really frugal people may go to the extremes like stealing toilet paper from stores or only running the lights in the house between certain hours of the day.

It’s amazing how much of our income we spend on stuff we only “think” we need rather than things we actually need. How often have you bought the latest jeans despite having 2 or 3 pairs at home already? Bought a new t shirt with a wardrobe full of them? Next time you’re buying something hold it in your hand and think about whether you really need the item or not. You may put it back.

Another way of doing this is to find something you want more that you’re putting the frugal money towards. When you’re deciding if you need it, ask yourself if you want the item more or the thing you’re putting money towards more. You’ll be surprised how often you put it back in comparison. This is called delayed gratification. Many of us are guilty of buying things to be happier, but it doesn’t last, so we buy more. A frugal person doesn’t need that because living simply is easier, with less clutter, and because they find satisfaction elsewhere in their life.

If you do indeed need it, take the time to – shop around!

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