When you think of frugal living, what comes to mind? For many people, frugal means denying yourself pleasure. Maybe there’s a reward in the end, but it’s either the absence of something like debt or it’s so far down the road that it seems impossible to reach. Although many people who think of themselves as frugal might approach it in this way, this is not a sustainable way of life. Instead, think of frugal living as a way not of denying yourself pleasure but of shifting priorities. If it’s making you miserable, you’re doing it wrong. Here are a few ways to do it right.
Spend When You Need To
Frugal doesn’t always mean cheap. There are many times when the better choice is to pay more for something that will last instead less for something cheap that you will have to keep replacing. There are also times when you may have to spend money for a greater return later. Getting an education is the prime example. While frugal living discourages going into debt, it may be worthwhile to take out student loans from Earnest to pursue an education that can lead to a satisfying and financially secure lifestyle. Furthermore, by practicing thrift now, you can pay off the loans that much more quickly when you graduate.
Change How You Think About Spending
Everyone who works for a living knows that the time they are on the job is exchanged for money, but they may not ponder this very deeply. When you stop thinking about money as something separate from you and start thinking about it as the product of your actual, valuable time, you’ll probably find yourself much more motivated to be mindful in your spending. It might be easy to say, “Oh, what’s $100?” but what happens when you think about how many hours you had to work to earn that $100? This way won’t stop you from paying for things that truly matter to you. It will stop you from wasting money on things you didn’t want very much in the first place.
What’s Money For?
The saying goes that money can’t buy happiness, but if you’ve ever truly been without it, you also know that it’s hard to be happy without a baseline of financial security. However, once you have that baseline in place, you may be surprised by how little you need to enjoy yourself. You should have enough to meet your basic expenses, maintain an emergency savings cushion and to make smart investments. Then, you should take a look at your discretionary spending. Instead of meeting your friends every week for dinner in an expensive restaurant, you could have potlucks that you rotate throughout your respective homes. Check local listings for free events in your area each week. Support your local library by borrowing books and movies from them. The idea is not that you will never spend on entertainment again but to recalibrate your relationship to money. A frugal approach means that when something comes up that both costs money and is something you genuinely want to do; you can indulge without guilt.