Becoming frugal was one of the best choices I could have made. It allowed me to save more money so I could pay off my debt, build my emergency savings, and live comfortably on less.
By definition, the word frugal means economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful.
Contrary to popular belief, being frugal doesn’t mean you’re cheap. Cheap people save money at all costs. Frugal people focus on being resourceful and spending only when it’s appropriate and meaningful. Yes, they prioritize saving, but they also focus on intentional spending and money management as well.
If you want to reach your financial goals, I’d highly recommend adopting a frugal lifestyle. You will probably spend a lot less in the beginning stages. Here’s how you can be frugal without feeling deprived.
Get Clear on Your Values
The first thing you want to do when you become frugal is identify your core values. Frugal people spend and save according to their values which makes it very difficult to feel deprived.
When you use your money to prioritize your values, you’ll actually start feeling more fulfilled. To determine your core values, ask yourself a few of these questions.
1. If money were no object, what would you spend it on?
2. What have you regretted spending money on in the past?
3. What actions or money-related decisions are you most proud of?
4. When do I feel most fulfilled? (under what circumstances)
As you answer these questions, you will start to notice a trend in regards to what is important in your life and what makes you happy. The good news is that everything won’t make the cut. Odds are, you may not be spending much on your values and may find yourself spending in other areas instead.
Once you have a small set list of values, you can shift your spending to them and away from the rest. Some people even like to adopt a value-based budget. They will budget normally for their necessities and spend the rest according to their values. This is a great way to become frugal and pay all your bills without feeling the least bit deprived.
Cut Meaningless Expenses
What if there’s not much leftover to spend on your values? Naturally, you will have to make sacrifices as a frugal person. However, they don’t always have to be difficult sacrifices. You can start by cutting out and reducing meaningless expenses to free up your income.
For me, this meant getting rid of costs that weren’t bringing me joy and didn’t add much value to my life. After getting clear on what was truly important to me, I happily cut out expenses like cable, my gym membership, my pricey cell phone bill, name brand clothes, and IKEA furniture (Yes, even IKEA is too much of a splurge for me).
I realized that I didn’t feel so good when I’d pay certain bills or have certain experiences. I enjoyed dining out in a social setting with friends but ordering food just to bring back to my desk or at home alone didn’t really please me.
It’s best to realize that frugality doesn’t always mean cutting out the fun stuff. It can also mean cutting out the unnecessary stuff like the costly interest payments on your debt. This means you may want to see if you can refinance your debt to lower your interest rate and/or payment and pay it off faster.
I also wasn’t crazy about certain bills I felt like I was overpaying for like car insurance so I shopped around for better rates.
To me, none of the stuff above really mattered that much so losing or reducing it didn’t feel like much of a sacrifice. The things that brought me happiness and fulfillment were the idea of becoming debt free, traveling, spending time with my friends and family, and getting outside. So naturally, that’s what I directed my money toward.
Pay Yourself First
Another way to embrace frugality is to figure out why you’ve chosen that lifestyle. While you can become frugal by necessity, you actually remain frugal by choice.
Frugality helps improve your financial situation so you eventually get to the point where you can choose whether you wish to continue with the lifestyle or not. I chose to continue become frugal after my finances improved and like most people, I did so because I wanted to continue saving money and I adapted pretty well to the lifestyle.
If you’re choosing to become frugal so you can save, pay off debt, etc. one of the best things you can do is start paying yourself first. This means, as soon as you get paid, transfer money to your savings or pay off debt before paying all your other bills. This helps you work toward freedom.
When you pay yourself first right when your income comes in, you can budget the rest of your money as you see fit. That way, you don’t have to feel guilty about going out for ice cream or spending money on something fun if you’ve already hit your savings goal for the month.
Learn a New Skill
Frugal people are thrifty, but they’re also very handy and resourceful. In today’s busy society, everyone is struggling to find the time to do everything. That’s why outsourcing has become so popular.
It’s often seen as trendy or convenient to pay someone else to do something for you, then spend your spare moments engaging in time sucks like television and social media.
I do feel like outsourcing can be taken too far which is why I decided to start insourcing what I can to save money so long as it doesn’t take up too much of my time.
You’ll find that the more skills you have, the more money you can save and you may actually find a fun hobby.
Budget For Fun
Being a young mom in college really helped me learn how to have fun on a budget. I got tired of being stuck in the house all the time since I didn’t have much money so I started exploring free and cheap ways to entertain myself and my son in the area.
When you think about it, there are so many free and affordable things you can do to have fun. Check with your local library for events or even rent movies or video from there for free.
You can also check with the park district for family-friendly events or even search local event sites. I also like using coupon and deal sites to cut costs when I can.
As you can see, becoming frugal is not the end of the world and doesn’t mean your life is over. You can definitely find ways to be frugal without feeling deprived. In fact, it could lead you to accept a whole new simpler lifestyle that leads to more stability and happiness.
Do you consider yourself a frugal person? What do you do to be frugal without feeling deprived all the time?