Odd Cents - How to Educate Yourself to Live Frugally

How to Educate Yourself to Live Frugally

I’m not one for trends, so I do not follow that latest must-haves touted by the macro-influencers. I’m quite the opposite. For the past ten or so years, I have been doing my own thing and living a somewhat-frugal life. To be honest, it was not that difficult to make the shift from spender to saver, because I knew what I had planned for my life. I was always saving money, but I decided that I needed to curb some of my spending habits and put away a bit more for a rainy day.

If I remember correctly, when I started this blog, I was a lot more frugal-minded and almost obsessed with cutting out unnecessary items from my budget. I ended up in a position where I had cut so much out of my budget, that there was nothing left to cut. Every dollar was accounted for and every cent had a purpose. But, as time went on, I realised that I did not have to be so strict and I implemented new personal finance tools that allowed me to ease up a bit.

However, I still live a frugal life and my acquaintances still joke that I am tied to my budget. I still am, to some extent, but now I’m more focused on maintaining a certain quality of life. Frugal living starts with the right mindset. You have to be locked into wanting better and believing that a frugal lifestyle can get you there. The best place to start, is to educate yourself to live frugally. You have to learn how to cut back and live below your means, but not feel as though you are missing out on life.

Educate Yourself to Live Frugally

Living frugally does not mean that you have to give up your life to save money. There is this huge misconception that when you live frugally, you are depriving yourself of the finer comforts in life. That is not true. Even though I live frugally, I still travel, eat well, buy the things that I need and enjoy life. However, by choosing to live frugally, I make better spending choices; manage my money more effectively; find ways to get things done on my own; and spend more time enjoying free or low-cost activities.

In several posts on this blog, I’ve talked about how I cut back to save money in an effort to embrace frugal living. One of my pre-budgeting activities was to write down all of my spending activity. This is crucial to understand your spending habits and is the foundation of your budget. I think I tracked my spending for one month (the Seven Step Financial Makeover walks you through the process) and then looked for items that I could get rid of.

After my budget was created, I was then able to make a plan for how I was going to stick to it. From what I can remember, my initial budget was not too strict, but it was a change. I was used to seeing something in a store and buying it without a second thought. But with a budget, I had to stop and ponder if there was room in my budget for this purchase. Would I have to sacrifice something else? Did I really need this item or could I live without it? This is how I made frugality a part of my life. I stopped and I questioned the purchase.

How I Live Frugally and Enjoy Life

As time went on I became even more proficient at living frugally. It was like second nature. But in the background, my budget was working and keeping everything in order. Savings were penciled in and monthly expenses were updated. And later, I implemented sinking funds budgeting for large annual expenses. This was a game changer and I am so grateful that I was able to incorporate it into my personal finance life.

Now, I know how much I can spend without looking at my budget. I’m going to share a few of the steps that I use to live frugally and enjoy life. You can use some of these methods or tweak them to suit your personal situation. If you go into this with a “can’t do” attitude, it will not work.

1. Take Lunch to Work

I do not buy lunch, instead I prepare my meals at home and take them to work. This allows me to save at up to $15 a day on meals.

2. Turn off Lights and Unused Electricals

When I’m not in a room, I turn the lights off. I also unplug electrical gadgets that are not in use. This includes computers and laptops, the television and radio and the microwave.

3. Shop Sales

I prefer to wait for the best deals and shop the sales. I’ve saved money on home building material, groceries, clothing and shoes and household items.

4. Exercise For Free

I recognise that it’s important to keep fit and stay healthy, so I have taken up speed walking at the gymnasium and swimming in the sea. (P.S. If you work for a company that pays health or gym memberships, sign up!)

5. At-Home Beauty Pampering

The last time I visited a hairdresser was in 2014. Since then, I’ve transitioned to a simple hairstyle that I can maintain myself. YouTube and Pinterest were crucial for my at-home beauty routines.

6. Enjoy the Free Stuff

Another way to live frugally is to simply enjoy the free activities around you. Go to the beach; plan a picnic with your family; go to the library; go window shopping or simply find a quiet spot to watch a sunset.

In addition to these, I’ve implemented smart techniques I’ve learn from people around me. For example, a former co-worker opened my eyes to cleaning supplies. She said that you do not need to buy the big brand to clean your bathroom because the cheap ones work just as fine and smell just as fragrant. My friend does not buy fertiliser for her plants, she makes a compost heap with leaves and vegetable and fruit clippings. When they break down, this is what she uses to fertilise her plants.

Further Reading

If you want to educate yourself to live frugally, you can start with the tips that I use. However, there are some other steps that you can take. Have a look at the suggestions on these blogs:

Nerd Wallet: A Beginner’s Guide to Frugal Living: 24 Easy Ways to Start Saving
The Balance Everyday: Get Started With Frugal Living
Joleisa Penny Pinchers’ Paradise: 10 Ways to Immerse Yourself in Frugal Living
My Jearney: How to Be Frugal and Live Below Your Means
Life Hacker: You Can Train Yourself to Be Frugal—And It’s Pretty Painless

Image Credit. Nappy.Co