Living a frugal life doesn’t mean total self-denial or living without giving. It means creating a plan, aligning spending with your priorities, taking time to research purchases for maximum value, learning to live within your means and appreciating everything you have. Practicing frugality gets your financial house in order, increases your quality of life with pride in your accomplishments and lowers stress by knowing you can meet your personal obligations.
Always Have a Plan
Without a road map, it’s hard to get where you’re going. It’s no different with your money. Frugal people always have a plan. They know what they want to accomplish – personally, professionally and financially. Create a plan that addresses your short-term and long-term needs and desires. Commit to paper what you want to accomplish this week, this month, this year and for the next five years. Include a timeline with specific items and the funds required to reach your goals.
Align Spending with Priorities
Once you’ve established a plan, let it be the guide for all your spending. If your plan includes paying off debt, channel all available monies to that end before purchasing any non-essential items. Saving for a home means other material wants are deferred as all extra cash goes into the bank for a down payment. Even if your goal is to increase giving or help others in need, align spending with your written plan.
Research Your Purchases
When it’s time to make a purchase, research is the key to frugality. First, research the true need for each purchase -- separating needs from wants and confirming alignment with your priorities. Once confirmed, avoid impulse buying. Understand all your purchasing options and carefully weigh initial product costs as well as future requirements for maintenance or longevity. A truly frugal person never engages in wasteful spending but looks for free or low-cost ways to get what they need.
Live Within Your Means
Living within your means entails spending less than you make. Your credit cards won’t accumulate balances from expensive dinners out or the latest electronic gadget. Frugality doesn’t create debt, and without debt, savings become a welcome reality. It takes practice, commitment and an iron-clad will to bring your financial house in order. However, such frugal living can secure your financial freedom.
Appreciate What You Have
One of the best ways to live a frugal life is to learn to appreciate what you already have. Years of conspicuous consumption have created generations of people always looking for items that are bigger, better and usually more expensive than their current possessions. Taking time to reflect and be thankful for even the smallest of things sets the stage for learning to live happily with less.
Terry Mulligan has been writing since 2007. As an accomplished artist, decorator and business professional, she enjoys covering art, decor, business management, real estate, education, computers/software/ERP, animal rescue, cooking and self-improvement. Mulligan holds an M.B.A. from the University of Phoenix.