Frugal fatigue has been in the mainstream media a lot this week. It seems that consumers have grown weary of tightening their belts and are letting it all hang out. It’s certainly okay to splurge every once in a while especially on things that have real meaning to you, however, it’s important to not forget the lessons we’ve learned during the recent recession.
The key is to create a positive mindset about frugal living, so that it doesn’t seem like something that’s been imposed on you but rather a way of living that you have chosen for yourself. When we are frugal because it aligns with our values and goals, it’s much easier to see the bigger picture and resist the temptation to solve our problems by spending money.
Why Are You Frugal?
Knowing why you are choosing a frugal lifestyle is the first step. Everyone will have a different answer. Long term financial security is certainly a big one for most people, but think of the other benefits. Do you want to free yourself from being focused on material things? Are you concerned about the environment? Do you want to be able to live on less so that you can spend your time doing things that matter to you?
If you know why you are choosing frugality, you are empowered to stay on track towards meeting your goals. It also gives you the freedom to spend money on the things that will enrich your life as you can see how they fit into your overall goals and desires.
Gain Some Perspective
I am always shocked when I see a news report that says the average household income in the area where I live is in the $30K a year range because it seems like I’m always stopped behind a luxury Lexus SUV with bumper stickers for pricey private schools on the back.
Most of us do tend to notice all the Joneses that are living the high life and ignore all the evidence that many people have much more moderate means and too many are living in dire poverty. This skewed perspective can leave us feeling like we don’t measure up, which can lead to buying things so that we feel like part of the crowd.
I don’t think any of us would feel joy at knowing that many people are struggling just to eat but it can give us perspective and a feeling of gratitude and humility instead of feeling deprived.
Give Yourself Permission to Splurge Wisely
Never spending money on things you would enjoy is a grim way to live. If you’re experiencing a financial crisis, tightening is unavoidable, but when you can, give yourself some leeway to “blow” money on unnecessary items that give you joy.
Starvation diets don’t work in the long run when it comes to losing weight and neither does a starvation budget. Not only will you eventually rebel, but it doesn’t teach you how to weigh options and make smart choices. As many failed dieters will tell you, sheer willpower is not enough. You need to craft a plan that works with your lifestyle and personality for long-term success.
Replace Spending with Something Else
If you’ve ever stopped smoking, you’ll know that kicking the habit is much easier if you can replace smoking with another activity to break old habits and stay away from trouble spots like nightclubs and friends that smoke. Likewise, it’s hard to stop spending if you spend all your free time in the mall or browsing online deal sites!
I’ve found that the more physical activity I get in my life, the less I spend. It keeps me out of the stores and I’m too busy to even think about all the cool stuff I could be buying. What activities do you enjoy that will keep your mind off of shopping and give your life richness and meaning?
Finding a circle of friends who are willing to spend time doing low-cost activities with you is an excellent way to fill your days with fun. If your friends and family usually like to do things like go to the movies or restaurants, take the lead and invite them to a movie night at your place or a picnic in the park. You might even find that they are grateful to you for finding inexpensive ways to fill the time.
What do you think are the secrets to a long-term frugal lifestyle?
Photo Credit: danesparaza