I’m not Cheap, I’m Frugal
While on appearance, it may seemingly come down to the difference between adjectives, but there is a definite difference between being frugal and being cheap.
Really, being cheap is a reluctance to spend money, whereas being frugal is a strategic, calculated lifestyle choice, through which your actions and behaviours collectively support the mileage you can get from every dollar. Being frugal lets you do more with less and help to support reaching your financial goals.
So, as we have mentioned, being frugal starts with a mindset. Like all behaviours, it starts with conscious thinking.
Really Define Need and Want
While the meaning of these terms is fairly obvious, you really, really need to break down what they mean in the context of your life and your budget.
There is always a grey around need (in the sense that your desire for a product or service is such that you would classify it as a want), but really- are you and your family able to survive (literally) without it?
Need ultimately applies to food, shelter and warmth. Beyond that, there are degrees of want.
Always Seek Alternatives
There is an element of being frugal that involves being curious as well. When making a purchase, what other options are available? Can you buy something second hand? Is this the type of item that is likely to go on sale, or could experience price reductions in a sales cycle? Is the product or service couponable?
Planning a purchase is not simply about putting money aside- it is about execution- and how to get the best value for your dollar.
Think Differently About Transportation
Would your household be able to operate with one vehicle? How accessible (and frequent) is public transportation? Would this fit into your lifestyle?
If your family is able to manage with one vehicle, you can reduce your monthly budgetary allocations significantly. You can remove an additional car payment, insurance and gas, which could seriously pad your bottom line.
Consider other (healthier!) forms of transportation too, if possible. Could you walk, bike, blade or skate to work or to other activities?
Be a Minimalist
Whether this is your housing space (i.e. size), the way in which you furnish it, or the way in which you clothe yourself, opt for quality (and creativity) over quantity.
Treat small spaces and tiny wardrobes as a challenge. Having these, and applying a little ingenuity, provides for a unique quality of life that also frees up cash flow.
Treasure your Kitchen
Whether it is grabbing coffee to go, brown bagging it for lunch, or meeting up with your BFF for a dinner to catch up, wherever possible don’t eat out.
You can save a significant amount of money by investing a little time in preparation- and chances are you’ll be making healthier choices too.
Change How You Think About Shopping
For many, a little retail therapy is a hobby. It’s not- it is a means to an end. That is to say, it is the process of acquiring the necessary items you need to run your household. If you can change your attitude towards shopping, you may be less inclined to impulse buy or shop for something to do.
On the same note, combine errands. Instead of running to the store daily, save time and money by planning and stacking errands on the same day, on a regular basis.