What’s frugal living all about? How does one embrace the frugal life without being cheap?
When the term frugal comes to mind many people will instantaneously hold it synonymous with being cheap. In fact many people, especially students who come from wealthier families, feel that being frugal is beneath them and it’s only for “poor” people. Most people will even brush off frugality by saying they’ll just earn more money instead of having to worry about saving money.
Personally, growing up as an easily impressionable youth I always thought that anyone who went out of their way to save money was cheap. As I got older I started actually working for my money, usually at jobs I didn’t like just to make a wage that wasn’t impressive at all.
The harder I worked, the more I realized that I needed to see some of that money at the end of the year when my account balance was at ZERO.
What’s frugal living exactly about?
This is when I came to the realization that being frugal is getting the most value for your money without compromising your standard of living.
You just have to be “price conscious” and realize that there will always be cheaper prices elsewhere, you just have to look for them. Many cheap people don’t enjoy their lives at all Most frugal people who I have met enjoy their life and enjoy their bank accounts even more.
Think about it, we all work hard for our money, so what is the point of having no or minimal money in our bank accounts at the end of the year?
How do you define frugal living?
For me, frugality started off as being very painful and boring, which I’m sure is how it’ll feel for everyone else that initially tries it. I just couldn’t define what frugal living was all about.
After a while of this painful process, you’ll notice that the quality of your life has not changed, but your bank account has changed for the better. This is the point where it will become fun and it will lead to creativity. By creativity I mean that you will find better alternatives to products, you’ll start using the internet to find better deals, or you may even start a personal finance blog.
Let me give you an example that better illustrates how frugal living becomes fun:
You and your buddy Frank both work at the same company, earning a wage of $1500 every month. Frank decides to continue his ways of careless spending, while you on the other hand embrace frugality and decide to always think twice before making a purchase. You become enticed with saving and always searching for the best deal, while Frank will mock you for being cheap. After having the same quality of life for a month (besides the fact that you searched for deals and did not make unnecessary purchases), and both working hard to earn your wages, you guys both go to check your account balances. Frank has a grand total of $50 in his bank, after spending foolishly and being too “cool” to search for deals. You on the other hand have $500 in your bank account. At this point Frank will become envious and confused while you smile and continue with your frugal ways, building a bigger bank balance every month. This is the point where you realize frugality becomes fun because you are enjoying the same quality of life as your friends but you are saving more money and building a nice bank account at the same time.
The most beneficial aspect of being frugal is that you’ll spend less money on unimportant things and more money on the things that are important to you (in my case, travelling the world).
One last final point on the art of frugality is that I DO NOT recommend anyone to be cheap, just frugal. That’s just how I define frugal living.