Frugality can ease strained finances but it can also lead to a frustrating and limited lifestyle. With the right tricks, however, you can find a happy medium to create a thrifty and pleasant existence.
Pinch the Right Pennies
You can save a lot of money by cutting out things you don’t need, buying at the right times, and seeking out discounts before you make a purchase, but all of that can turn into a full time job if you let it. Frugality only works to your advantage if you spend a minimal amount of time, otherwise you risk becoming frustrated. Like with a diet, if you strain your willpower you’ll cheat. The same goes for spending. Therefore, make sure you don’t do too much work in the process of getting those discounts.
How do you go about this? For starters, automate your discounts so you don’t have to waste your time finding coupons. The internet can do that for you. You also have a handful of bills. If you can’t eliminate any of them entirely (e.g cutting cable), you can often lessen them by getting rid of services you don’t need or calling to negotiate a lower rate. In some cases, you can lower costs with a few minor adjustments—like with your electric bill. If you make a few minor changes, cut out things you don’t really use, and automate your discounts, you can pinch the right pennies and avoid turning frugality into frustration.
Get Used to It
You have to work your way up to frugality. You can’t just decide to reform your finances overnight and expect to adjust to the change without issue. When tackling the above suggestions, ease yourself into them. Take one at a time. Once you adapt you can tackle another. When getting started, schedule a no-spend day once a week to get used to the idea of a tighter budget. So long as you don’t use that day as an excuse to spend more on others, you’ll save a little bit each week until you decide to implement more aggressive strategies.
While you can cut a bunch of bills, if you can’t keep yourself from spending—especially on credit—you can’t really embrace frugality. As we’ve discussed in the past, we prefer credit cards for virtually every kind of transaction except for people who have a shopping problem. While not always the most secure option, using debit means you lose the money right away so you’ll think more about each purchase.
If you still want to go the credit card route, however, you need to prevent yourself from overspending. For those with enough willpower, just institute a mandatory holding pattern on your purchases so you don’t resort to impulse buys. For most, 24-48 will work. For exciting purchases like the latest gadget, you might want to wait a week. Of course, some of us need to resort to more extreme measures like freezing, demagnetizing, and locking up our credit cards. Alternatively, give them to a friend or put a sticker on them that says “you’re trying to save!” A little guilt can go a long way when it comes time to purchase. However you go about it, do what you need to do to reduce the temptation to buy things you don’t need. For most, that’ll be enough to start saving money and get on the road to frugality.
Good luck, and have a great weekend!
Photo by Roman Oleinik.