3 Ways to FINALLY Be Frugal

by Vincent King · 8 comments

Freunde im Park beim Picknick

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 and 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 PS5 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? 

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • Alley Keosheyan says:

    #3 is more important than many realize. Like alcoholics and addicts in recovery must distance themselves from their old party buddies (most of the time, anyway), people recovering from spending addiction must surround themselves with those who will support them and not sabotage them.

  • Nellie says:

    I like that you talk about mentality because it’s a huge, huge part of how to start living frugally. This is a great post. Thanks.

  • Heather says:

    Good job Ron. One true friend beats a circle of persons not concerned about your best interest. We should all pay off debt and save for retirement.

  • Ron says:

    Very nice article; the first few paragraphs sounded as though it were me writing about my feelings and thoughts. ICannot attest to much of the input about making new friends as I have never had a “circle” of friends. Guess you might call me a “loner” of sorts. I can be friendly and comfortable around folks, but the majority of my time is alone. My wife seems somewhat similar. There are days when we speak only a few sentences. We do not have a lot of arguments so guess we are both in our comfort zone.
    Your stories remind me of my one close friend Gary, who is as frugal to the max. He once informed me that it hurt him to see me struggling financially and after my initial urge to get angry was not as important to my respect for Gary. He said he could help; I thought o’boy, here comes some money! No, he did not give me money but he gave me advice and a plan to stop spending on frivolous desires. He looked at my checkbook (with my permission) and asked where all these 300 ATM withdrawals were all about. Well, will not bore you with the details about the strip clubs (I was single at that time) but lets just say it was frivolous spending. He had me cut up my credit cards (8) and take out a bank loan to pay them all off. That started me toward a life-long venture of a much better financially adjusted person. His comments also included the words to stay focused; much like you gave some interesting tips. I was over 50 and 20K in debt; no longer 50 but now retired and not in debt. Even managed to put 21& of my paycheck int0 an IRA at work for my last 15 years, thanks to Gary’s advice.

    • Beau W. says:

      Good job sir!! I was like that once. Completely irresponsible with my financial situation. I have turned my situation around and have a great plan looking ahead.

  • Marbella says:

    If you need to buy something new, you should always research the market carefully, there are always competitors who are cheaper, try to find new stores that have offers on what you want and try to haggle.

  • Syed says:

    Frugality is definitely more of a shift in thinking rather than telling yourself to stop spending so much. A lot of times we spend money on things without even thinking about it. In order for a lasting change to occur, we really have to sit down with ourselves and look at our spending and find out why we spend the way we do.

  • Michelle says:

    Great post. We have been wanting to live more frugally. Luckily, my friends have been changing their mindset too and agree with us!

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