When you hear the word frugal, what do you think about? Often the first definition that comes to mind is someone who does not like to spend money. Many people associate the word frugal with the extreme cases of people who rarely spend money and make extreme sacrifices in order to protect their assets. In reality being frugal is managing your resources and making careful, planned purchases. This means that a frugal person is careful with his money, but it does not mean that he does not do the things that he loves the most.
The key to embracing a more frugal lifestyle is recognizing the areas where you may need to cut back and choosing the areas where you feel that you have earned the right to splurge a little bit more within reason. A frugal person recognizes that no matter how much she wants a certain item, if she can’t pay cash for it, then she can’t have it. She also looks ahead to see if this particular purchase is going to make it difficult to purchase groceries at the end of the month.
When you decide to become more frugal it does not mean giving up everything you enjoy, rather it means prioritizing what you enjoy, and your financial goals and deciding which activities will have priority and what you will need to cut back on. You can have a large amount of discretionary income, and enjoy a wide variety of activities while still being frugal. The key is that you are working towards specific financial goals while you are doing those things. It also means carefully researching your purchases and activities and looking for the best deals on them.
You can embrace a more frugal lifestyle without fully cutting out everything that you enjoy. For example if you are trying to tighten up your budget, but you feel that you need cable television in order to relax at the end of the day, you can cut back your cable package to one where you utilize all of the channels or you can decrease the amount you spend on eating out each month to compensate within your budget. Another example is if you love to travel, you can still travel, but you may spend more time looking for the best deals for airplane tickets and cruises. In both of these examples, you are taking the time to be more frugal without seriously hampering the lifestyle you want to maintain. You can also find the designer labels you want by shopping at consignment stores to find the items for less money.
But at the same time it means that you should not be overspending or giving into every indulgence that you want. It is important to practice moderation, so that you have control of your finances. If you are spending on a whim on a regular basis, you are not practicing a frugal lifestyle. You need to be budgeting every month and planning for purchases such as new clothes, and fun expenses as a part of your regular budget. Being frugal does not mean giving up your fun, but you should definitely be planning it out and making sure that you can truly afford the things you want to do the most.
One of the most frugal people I know regularly treats herself to a nice outfit (high end designers) occasionally and a meal out once a week. She is enjoying her life, while knowing that she has the rest of her financial life under control. Being frugal is more about living within your means and planning for the future than about pinching every last penny until it bleeds. You can adopt a more frugal lifestyle right now, but choosing one thing you want to keep and two things you are willing to give up in order to do that. As you work to live within your means and save up for the future, you will be able to relax, and really enjoy life without all the financial worry. These things may help you adjust to a pay cut so you can take a less stressful job and improve your quality of life.