What does frugal living really mean?
Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines frugal as “not wasteful; not spending freely or unnecessarily; thrifty; economical.” Although living frugal does have a negative connotation that surrounds the idea, it doesn’t have to be that way. Living frugally does not mean living cheap, or not having nice things. It is more about living smart, which allows excess money in order to gain a sort of freedom. That money that was not foolishly wasted can be used for something better. As you will see in a moment that living frugally is very beneficial, in more areas than just financial.
Why live frugally?
It is a simple question to answer because the benefits far outweigh any reasons presented for not doing so. Why not live frugally? Not everyone who lives in this American styled culture of consumers are so busy consuming this and consuming that. Believe it or not, people actually choose to participate in that endless rat race to keep up with the Joneses. Who really cares if somebody in the neighborhood just bought a brand-new Mercedes? It really doesn’t affect you in any way, no matter what you tell yourself. Who cares what they drive? In the grand scheme of things, it is minuscule. That leads us to another benefit of being frugal, when you’re not tied down chasing someone else’s dream or working on an image to present to others, then that energy can be spent on something that might actually make a difference. Not only in your own life, but the lives of those around you. That right there my friend is priceless, if you just pick it up and run with it.
Living frugally makes you a healthier person. Less unmanaged debt along with less financial stress is a health benefit. If debt-induced stress is reduced, becoming healthier is a natural outcome. It also increases happiness if all that debt is not weighing a person down, and it allows more choices with your time and money. Freedom is just as much as a natural outcome of living a frugal life like the rest of the benefits listed here. Freedom to do what you want, when you want, that can’t have a price tag attached to it. Less debt and not being tied down to the daily grind do equal freedom. That same freedom that is an envied perk of the wealthy, can be yours too!!
How to live frugally?
Not every piece of advice here will be the most beneficial for you, depending on your situation. These are the things that you can examine and see if it is an area that may actually be feasible for you to cut back on, or as it is liked to be called, maybe live a little more frugally.
One of the biggest expenses we face besides housing is that of transportation. How many cars are sitting in your driveway right now? That’s right I asked ‘sitting’. Granted vehicles will rest more than they are used. Is the expense really worth it? Does the expense really justify more than one of them? Is it possible to share, or use public transportation? While the expenses of your vehicles are in the spotlight, here’s the big one to consider, “How old is your car?” The amount of money that can be saved by getting just last year’s model is enough to help you live frugally enough that the excess money can be put in savings. That way it is not sitting in the driveway where someone might come along and steal it.
How about that tendency to dine out more often than not? When you dine out you a paying an extreme premium for the food you are going to consume. It is less expensive and more frugal to eat out less often, fix your own meals, and brown bag it at work. Is this a rule of thumb? No not necessarily, but it is a place that money spent can be decreased in order to pay for other things. Like a savings account, or used to pay off debt.
Make a list when shopping and if it’s not on the list it probably doesn’t need to be bought. This helps eliminate impulsive buying, which we all know can help us save money. Another area related to this is avoiding those items that may be considered as status symbol or luxury items. If they can label a product as a luxury, you will be paying more than it is worth. The benefits of luxury purchases are minimal, even if you are trying to look more important than the other guy. This does not mean that you should shy away from quality items. These items will last longer and save you money in the long run. There is a difference between luxury and quality.
You know that last book you bought? Yea that one you spent $20 on. The public library down the street would allow you to borrow the book for free as long as you return it when you are finished reading it. They even have educational videos and DVD movies for you to borrow, at no cost!!!!
Here is a big one, brace yourself for this. If you want to live frugally and allow your money to not only go farther but also work for itself. Avoid interest laden debt. There is a difference between living with what you need and living with what you want. In most cases, some debt is not always a bad thing, but oh my, the interest. The amount of interest on your house would pay for the house three times over, not to mention those other loans for things we may not use very often like boats and motorcycles. There’s nothing wrong with owning any of those things, but when you are in debt over those things the interest that you pay out is money that could have gone into emergency savings, or even in that retirement fund. Debt is not only a killer of wealth; it is also a killer of living frugally. Save more money and put it to work for you in a positive way.
The act of living frugally can be beneficial to you in ways unimaginable. These are not laws set in stone for you to follow, but a starting point in examining your expenses. If you examine these areas, you will find more than one place where you can cut back, in order to live a frugal life and reap the benefits thereof.
Frugal Living Can Improve Your Life
Written by: Samuel Gregoth
What does frugal living really mean?