If you’re not already living a frugal lifestyle, it may sound like an unattractive and inadequate way to live. But it can be (and should be!) quite the opposite. So why should you live frugally?
One should live frugally because it is one of the most efficient and active ways to handle your finances. It is efficient because you are removing unnecessary expenses and budget items that are wasting your money. And it is active because it forces you to have your finger on the pulse of your finances. You must understand all money coming in and money going out and be willing to manage it.
A frugal person lives a very content life by simply removing the waste and allocating their money to where it matters most to them.
Living frugally does not mean you are skimping or living a very simple life (although you could absolutely do that). Instead, a frugal person chooses to spend their money on things that truly matter, while at the same time recognizing expenses that could be done for less (more on that below).
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What is the meaning of being frugal with your money?
It’s easy to start living a more frugal lifestyle when you begin budgeting and becoming more intentional with your money, so the line can be blurry as to when you are actually being frugal with money.
Being frugal with your money means that you are very intentional with every dollar and choose not to overspend whenever possible. Frugal people typically keep a budget and are able to allocate more to savings.
Frugality does not necessarily mean that a person is living a less-than-desirable life. In fact, when someone is frugal with their money, they have control over every dollar and are able to save money for things that mean the most to them.
I really like this quote from Bankrate:
…frugal people spend in ways that add value to their life while actively eliminating spending that does not help them reach their specific goals. For example, a frugal person may find that cutting his cable television subscription saves him money without impacting his life in a negative way, so he does that. But the same person might splurge for something else he loves, like gardening or woodworking, since he doesn’t mind spending on what matters most.https://www.bankrate.com/banking/what-does-frugal-mean/
As you can see, being frugal does not mean you are not living a happy and fulfilled life. It simply means that you are cutting expenses that are not necessary to have a great life so you can save or allocate those funds to what really matters.
What makes a person frugal?
Not every person who keeps a detailed budget and knows where their money is going is considered frugal.
What makes a person frugal is being very intentional with their money and purchases. A frugal person budgets, researches and saves up for larger purchases, and removes any unnecessary monthly expenses to ensure maximum savings.
When making larger purchases, a frugal person will often wait to make that purchase and only do so after doing enough research to ensure they are getting a quality (not cheap) product. The reason for this is that, by spending extra on a quality product, they will save money in the long run by not spending money on fixing or even replacing a cheap product.
This graphic gives you a good idea of how people overspend:
When a person is living a frugal lifestyle, they are not only budgeting but making conscious decisions about their money with every purchase.
Why is being frugal important?
Now that we know what being frugal is all about, is it really that important to do?
Being frugal is important because a frugal person has complete control over their finances. A frugal person is intentional about budgeting, paying off debt, and saving money. They are also intentional about where their money is spent and make wise decisions on the products they purchase.
This is so important because, by living a frugal life, there is no wasted money or money left on the table. Everything is accounted for and you are spending the least amount of money possible but still living the life you choose.
I believe that’s where a lot of people get held up: before really diving into what frugality is all about, they believe it’s how to live the cheapest life possible. They don’t believe that a frugal person is living a good life.
Luckily, that can’t be further from the truth!
Is it worth it to be frugal?
I think a lot of people ask if being frugal is really worth all of the effort. They want to know why the route they’re on isn’t enough. Why is living a frugal lifestyle better than the way you’re currently doing your finances?
Being frugal is worth the effort because you are removing all unnecessary expenditures while still spending money on the things that matter to you. By living frugally, you have your finger on the pulse of your finances, which is worth it all on its own.
On top of managing your finances, you evaluate all of your expenditures to see which are worth it to keep. Then, by removing the unnecessary expenses, you are left with more money in your pocket without sacrificing what is important to you.
As I mentioned: your finger is on the pulse of your finances, which I believe is worth the title of a frugal person all on its own. Many people do not have a grasp on their finances and find themselves living paycheck-to-paycheck with little room for saving money.
Frugal living for beginners
When you’re just getting started with a frugal life, you may wonder where you should even begin. Here are a few essential steps to building a strong foundation for a frugal life.
How do you begin living a frugal life?
1. Get on a budget
The first and most essential step in becoming frugal is to get on a budget.
A budget is your first line of defense to taking and keeping control of your finances. When you keep a budget and stay on top of it month after month, you know exactly how much money is coming in and more importantly, how much money is going out.
So how do you get on a budget?
- Gather a list of all of your expenses for the month by checking your service accounts and bank account – you will need the day the expense comes out and how much the expense is
- Note the days any income comes in (paychecks, dividends, extra income)
- Use your favorite budgeting method to input all of this information
- Allocate money toward expenses that have no due date (food, gas)
For a more in-depth look at how to start and keep a budget, check out this post for a full breakdown on budgeting.
2. Review all of your expenses
You did a lot of the legwork for this step in the previous step of getting on a budget, but we need to take it a step further.
There may be expenses that simply aren’t a part of your regular budgeting expenses. Here are a few examples:
- Subscription services – some services only come out once a quarter or annually
- Entertainment and/or vacation savings
- Hair cuts
Take a look at any expenses you may incur. The more complete the list, the better!
3. Remove budget items that are not completely necessary
Now that you have all of your expenses down on paper, it will be easy to go through and remove budget items that are not necessary.
Why do budget items have to be unnecessary?
This is where a lot of people have to dig deep to get themselves over the line to a more frugal life. A frugal person looks at every expense to see which can be done for less money. That way, that extra money can be allocated to things that really matter.
Here is a list of possible monthly expenses that could be swapped to save money:
|Daily coffee at the coffeehouse||$55|
|Restaurants (once per week,)||$52|
|Cable (basic service)||$25|
|Monthly subscriptions (gym, subscription boxes, etc.)||$38|
|Movies (ticket alone)||$9|
|Gas station snacks (once per week)||$20|
I’m not necessarily saying to cut all of these expenses out! But can you find a less expensive way of getting these things?
Coffee, for example: a daily trip to a coffeehouse for a month is about $55 (that’s if you spend less than $3/coffee). A 12-ounce bag of ground coffee with the brand name of a popular coffee shop is about $8, which can make about 16 cups of coffee.
If you want to throw in a sweetened creamer, add another $4. That brings us to $12 for 16 cups of coffee.
There are other items on that table that may sound extreme (like cutting your own hair). I thought so too until I actually tried cutting my own hair. It’s a lot easier than you’d think, and hair is pretty forgiving! I used this YouTube tutorial and found it pretty easy to follow along:
Overall, the trick is to find ways to save yourself money on things that you can control. If you’re uncomfortable cutting your own hair, maybe you should keep that in your list of expenses.
But if you’re able to cut out anything that’s not necessary, you will be able to hold onto that money and throw it at your savings.
4. Research and wait to make larger purchases
Big purchases don’t happen every day, but when they do, it’s important to go about them the right way.
A frugal person does not choose the cheap route to make larger purchases just to save money. Instead, a frugal person does research to find the most quality product, even if it means paying a little extra for it.
Let’s say you need a new blender. You have options all across the board as far as price is concerned. Many people think that a frugal person would pick the cheapest blender out there to save some money.
In reality, that person would likely do research on their specific needs in the blender. How fine does it need to blend? How important is customer service? What are they planning on using the blender for the majority of the time?
A frugal person researches these larger purchases based on their needs, then makes the purchase once they have the money.
In addition, you may hear a frugal person mention something called the 30-day rule. This is when you wait 30 days before making a large purchase to make sure you really need it. If you can get through those 30 days and you still feel like you need it (and have the money saved!), then purchase it.
How do you enjoy being frugal?
Hopefully, by now you’ve seen why living a more frugal life can make for a more fulfilling way to spend your hard-earned money.
Enjoying the frugal life is a lot easier than you may think. Identify the expenses in your life that make you happy and you do not mind giving your money to. Then, once you have those expenses, remove the remainder of the expenses that could maximize your savings.
A frugal life can be quite enjoyable for the simple fact that you are not removing expenses that bring you joy, and at the same time, do not face the stress of unknowns in your budget. Many people live an anxious life and choose to never open their bank account to face how much (or little) money they have.
By living a frugal life, you are not only maximizing your savings, but you know exactly where your finances stand.
Did you just sigh a huge sigh of relief after reading that? I know I did.
The wonderful thing about living a frugal life is that it is subjective. What one person thinks is important to spend money on is entirely up to them. Your frugal lifestyle will not look the same as mine, and that’s okay!
You’re in the driver’s seat when it comes to what you spend your money on.
The important piece to being frugal is that you are managing your finances and that you are intentional with your money.