When we have a big financial goal in mind, or we are trying to get a grapple on our debt, one of the best ways to approach either is to start with a budget based on frugality and stick to it.
Creating a budget that works for either saving money or reducing our debt takes some creativity and sacrifice.
Of course, we don’t want to do without. So, we can try to find ways to be frugal to help us stay financially responsible while also having the funds for what we need.
Being frugal isn’t the same thing as being cheap or depriving yourself of life’s necessities. It’s more about being smart with your money and avoiding frivolous temptations.
Being frugal is about learning how to stretch a dollar where possible and saving money on things when you can.
Being financially responsible usually includes being frugal to a certain degree. It revolves around knowing where your hard-earned money is going so you’re not broke at the end of the month.
Maintaining a frugal lifestyle can be difficult and requires some patience and perseverance. Stick with the following strategies to stay motivated while being frugal to reap all the rewards.
Set Attainable and Realistic Goals
If you have a financial goal in mind that is motivating you to be frugal, be sure that it’s a realistic one that is possible to achieve.
For example, if you want to pay down your debt, it would be wise to create a set of smaller goals to knock off one source of debt at a time.
Having smaller goals that you can achieve on the way to realizing your main goal can motivate you to stay on track, as you can see progress with each small step. Seeing the benefits of being frugal in small doses is very rewarding.
When a goal seems too large or overwhelming, it’s one that you’ll give up on fast. Trying to get rid of a massive amount of debt in six months may not be possible, and that’s okay. It’s important not to compare your goals to others and instead, only use others for inspiration to stay motivated.
If you don’t give yourself enough time to reach your goal, you might end up restricting your finances too much to the point where you can’t afford your necessities. Not having any wiggle room can also feel too overwhelming, which could lead to giving up and going on a shopping spree.
Keep Reminders to Remember What You’re Being Frugal For
Chances are, if you’re considering trying to be more frugal, you have something that is motivating you to get your finances in order. Perhaps you want to save for a dream vacation, purchase a house, or want to be debt-free.
Your goal may also be to just simply be smarter with your money. Or maybe your goals are more concrete:
- You may want to stop the vicious cycle of spending money just to spend it.
- You may want to relieve yourself of the pressure of keeping up with your friends and family when it doesn’t fulfill you.
Adopting a more frugal lifestyle can also help you save for a more secure financial future. You may need a nest egg for retirement. You may also want to set up an emergency fund to ensure you always have money saved when a big financial burden makes its way into your life.
No matter what reason you have for wanting to manage your money better, keeping reminders around you will help you stay inspired and motivated to keep up the good habits. For example, you can post some photos of your dream vacation destination around your home so you can visualize yourself there.
Purge All the Temptations
It can be hard to resist shopping when you get emails about coupons and sales or see your favorite shops on your Instagram feed.
Maybe you even get text messages from your favorite stores when there’s a special promotion. If this is you, you need to purge all of those reminders.
These notifications may tempt you due to the illusion that a good deal is in store, but chances are, those deals are for things you don’t need.
If you can’t resist them, mute the notifications, or unsubscribe to mailing lists to avoid those temptations.
Find Ways for Fun and Entertainment That Don’t Cost a Lot
Sitting at home all day to stay frugal will not work for anyone. There needs to be room for you to have fun. You can get creative with the things you do to occupy your time that is free or doesn’t cost a lot of money.
Instead of going out to a bar or a restaurant for a fun night out with friends, consider doing a game night in and make it a potluck, so that you don’t need to blow your budget on drinks and snacks. You can also have everyone bring their favorite game, so you have a variety to choose from.
When the weather is nice, consider being a tourist in your community by visiting a local park you haven’t been to or hiking a trail. You can also invite a friend and pack a picnic lunch with food you have at home.
Indulge Occasionally, But Indulge Smartly
Being frugal isn’t just about only spending on the necessities and saving money where possible. It’s also about being smart with your money when it comes to the things you want. You want to refrain from indulging when you’re not in a good headspace, as that can cause you to act irrationally.
One rule of thumb to keep in your pocket when considering an indulgence is to refrain from purchasing that item right away. If a week passes and you still can’t stop thinking about that item, perhaps it’s suitable to go ahead and indulge if you have the room in your budget.
When we resist giving in to the temptation of indulging right away, we have the time to reflect on whether we want that item, as well as what reason we might have for wanting it. Sometimes we want to indulge to temporarily fill a void that needs to be rectified more healthily.
One of the positive benefits of being frugal and sticking with it is the shift in attitude you’ll experience when it comes to indulgences. You’ll find satisfaction in saving up for something special and find alternative sources of happiness other than spending money frivolously.
Share Your Goals with Your Friends and Family to Help Keep You Accountable
It’s wise to inform your close friends and family about your new financial goals for two reasons. One is so that they can help hold you accountable for your financial decisions. Two is so that they know not to try and rope you into activities that’ll cause you to splurge.
Many of the activities we do with our friends and family to stay social include spending money. This could be going out for a meal or shopping. If you let your loved ones know you’re trying to be frugal and why you’re doing so, they can help keep you on track.
Unfortunately, you might notice that you have some people in your life that encourage you to mismanage your money. These are people who might try to convince you to just go ahead and buy that thing or may want you to go out all the time. You may have to limit your interactions with them when the temptation is too strong.
Remember Your Three Rs: Reduce, Recycle, Reuse
One of the best things you can learn from people who are good at being frugal is the importance of finding opportunities to reuse and recycle what you can and reduce your consumption. Not only are these behaviors good for the planet, but they’re good for your wallet, too.
If you’re someone who enjoys shopping, consider starting or participating in a clothing swap. This allows you to “shop” someone else’s closet or home at little to no cost. Second-hand shopping has also evolved into quite an enjoyable industry to indulge in.
Before throwing something out, you should also consider how it could be reused. Perhaps one of your friends needs the thing you no longer want. Perhaps you can get crafty and turn it into something else, like storage or organization.
When it comes to reducing the number of things we consume, it can be difficult. People often find fulfillment in having things. It would be worth looking into minimalism to find ways to reduce consumption while still being fulfilled.
Find Fun Tips and Tricks to Challenge Yourself
If you need a little bit of extra stimulation to keep yourself interested in being frugal, look for some fun challenges or tips to implement in your life. These could be weekly challenges that keep you excited about being frugal.
One example of a challenge you can try is a no-spend weekend. You can even try a no-spend week if you want to be very ambitious. The goal is simple; don’t spend money. If you need food or gas, for example, consider stocking up on those things smartly before starting your challenge. You’d be surprised how much money you can save doing this.
Another challenge you can try and gradually increase the amount you put in a savings account to challenge yourself to save more and more. For example, start with one dollar a week, then increase it to two dollars, and so on, and see how much you can realistically save while still being able to pay for your needs.
Learn From the Experts, For Free
If you’re trying frugal life for the first time, it can be hard to know where to start. Thankfully, being frugal and smart with money is a full-time job for some people. These people love to share stories and advice, and for free.
You can find a plethora of wisdom on YouTube, in blogs, on podcasts, and in articles that can help you stay motivated and find new ways to be frugal in your own life. Being able to relate to others that have been in your position and found a way to put in the hard work to be financially stable can be incredibly motivating.
Celebrate The Small Victories
You shouldn’t wait until you are at the end goal to start celebrating. You should celebrate the small victories as well. Taking the time to be proud of yourself for your accomplishments, even when they are still small, will reinforce that you are doing a positive thing.
Remembering that every micro-goal is bringing you one step closer to your big goal is essential to long-term success.
It’s also important to avoid comparing your goals to others, as it’ll quickly diminish your feelings of victory, and you may be tempted to give up.
Living a frugal life isn’t easy when you start but it doesn’t take long for it to become a habit. What’s more, it can be enjoyable to learn how to conserve your money for the most important things. It’s rewarding to see your financial goals come to fruition, regardless of the pace at which this happens for you.
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