The word ‘frugal’ has different connotations to different people. Some see it as smart spending while others worry it can lead to the scarcity mindset. Like anything, being frugal needs to be balanced. It doesn’t mean depriving yourself of essential food or health services – its purpose is to actually ensure you have enough of what you need without going overboard. It is about being more mindful of your spending and being happier with the things you do have – rather than falling prey to impulse buying, eating out for convenience, and retail therapy.
I’m the first one to admit I’m not a natural budgeter. My Zodiac sign is a Leo – and I don’t subscribe to horoscopes at all, but I find it funny how ‘Leos’ are notorious for being big spenders and lovers of luxury. It took me a little longer to commit to being frugal. Particularly because I had some financially hard years in the past, when I did finally have some stability, it felt like it was my right to treat myself by eating out, have frequent hair salon visits, go on monthly clothes buying trips, etc. I don’t regret those days, because in many ways, I think I needed them – it was a true yuppy lifestyle and I can say I’ve lived it. Now I can appreciate the importance of living for the present while planning for the future. While I want to enjoy life as much as I can while I’m young with few obligations, I also want to make choices today that will benefit the future me, too.
I’ve also learned that enjoying life is less about having new things and more about enjoying the everyday things and views all around you. I believe in the mentality of building a life you don’t need a vacation from – and I’ve lived that for most of my 30’s. I treat myself to day trips and hikes often enough to feed my wanderlust. That’s not to say I don’t want to travel later on, but there’s so much to do in my immediate area (which is why I moved here) that I don’t need to spend a lot to have fun.
Cooking more at home is probably one of the BEST ways to save money. Eating out will drain your account so quickly – it’s not hard to spend $100 within just 3 or 4 days when you’re getting takeout. For that same amount, you could have meals at home for a week or so.
Living frugal isn’t about depriving yourself. If I feel like a latte when I’m out running errands, I’ll get it – I just don’t go out and get one everyday. If I’m craving tacos or a burger, I’ll get those once or twice that week. If I really want a new dress that’s affordable, I’ll grab it. You can treat yourself to things you really want as long as they go within your budget that month.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that frugality isn’t necessarily a “scarcity mindset”. If anything it allows you to enjoy more of everyday life while saving for the future. Rather than wasting money only on the here and now, you’re saving some to enjoy more of life later, too. Once debt it paid off, you can build savings and take an amazing trip, get the hair style you always wanted, have a luxury spa day, put it toward a house, etc. – the sky’s the limit when you reach your savings goals.
I used to think a budget would feel so limiting – it can be hard to look at your money as something you need to manage at first, but honestly, organization has a way of freeing up more of your life. It’s empowering to see how much money you could actually save if you put your mind to it.
Man, I’ve really become a budgeter now. 🙂 Better late than never!
Have you been sticking to a budget this year? Do you plan to budget more?