Many of us weren’t born frugal. We had to convert to frugality so we could survive financially. And it’s hard, I know. I’m one of those people.
I used to come and go as I pleased. Bought what I wanted. Ate out as often as I cared to. As a result, I ended up with a mountain of debt — that my parents bailed me out of more than once. As thankful as I was, it took me a lot longer to learn lessons that others seemed to grasp without much effort.
Learning to be frugal was brutal.
I had to shift several behaviors before I could be financially intelligent. Once I did, the monkey on my back lightened a little, and then finally, a lot. I don’t know that I’ll ever fully adapt, but there are three things that have made my transition much easier.
Here are my tips to help you lose the frugal blues:
1. Get In Your Head
Once I stopped thinking that I had to have everything I wanted, when I wanted it, becoming more frugal was a little easier.
It’s a mind game. It’s all in how we think about what we have to do that makes things hard or easy. Get it out of your head that you’re being punished because you can’t have the PS4 this Christmas. Instead, think about how you’re stoked to be nearing your dream of financial stability.
When you re-frame your reality in a positive manner, things become more manageable. Your brain won’t be focused on how bad things are, and will no longer drain your energy in painful anticipation.
But that’s only part of the battle.
2. Spend Your Time Wisely
Once I’d made up my mind to start fresh and look through rose-colored glasses at my frugal future, I knew I had to find new and better ways to entertain myself. I needed to find alternatives to shopping for the latest electronics or eating out at the hottest restaurants.
This was particularly hard on my days off. I had time to waste — and you know the saying about idle hands. I’d remind myself of my new goals and go looking for other interesting activities. People watching was always fun: I’d sit in the mall listening and observing. Sometimes, I gave them their own stories.
The library opened up a new world for me at that time. I’d always enjoyed reading, but I never actually made time to do it. I eventually joined the book clubs and enrolled in cool classes to take (which were almost always free). The library turned out to be so much more than a building full of books.
3. Find New Friends
When I decided to live frugally, I knew my friends would make it hard. They were like the former me, with no interest in changing. Everything we did revolved around spending; I couldn’t expect them to change just because I did. Yes, in a perfect world, they’d accept me and my evolution, but turning down invitation after invitation got as old for me as hearing “no” did for them.
So, in my quest for cool and frugal stuff to do, I made new friends — friends who were interested in the same things. Knowing them made it easier to be frugal, because I wasn’t always hounded to throw my hard-earned dollars away in frivolous ways. We’d meet at concerts in the park, have picnics, and visit museums. That’s stuff my old crew would never do.
If you want to make frugality a sustainable option, find people who are working towards the same goals as you. They not only won’t tempt you to spend, but they’ll also help you to stay on track.
Converting to a frugal life isn’t easy — especially if you’re coming from a high-spending lifestyle where you kept up with the latest trends, styles, and restaurants. With these simple changes, however, you’ll be able to settle into your new path with more ease.
What’s the toughest part of converting to a frugal life for you?