We only have as much money as we don’t spend. Seems obvious, but looking things this way, makes a difference.
Money ≠ Happiness
One of my dad’s favorite sayings (which I grew up hearing A LOT) is: happiness is a positive cash flow. I’ve always felt uncomfortable with the saying – even before I knew why. I’ve now come to terms with the answer to that. First, cash doesn’t make a person happy, and second, happiness isn’t something that can be chased.
Even still, it’s not as though I disregard the idea altogether. True that happiness itself can’t be equated to a positive cash flow; however, life is harder without it. Instead, I like to think about it this way: we only have as much money as we don’t spend.
The Power of the Will
It takes guts to quiet the shopping impulse while living in a fast access to shiny new things culture. Whewh – that was quite the sentence. But seriously, we no longer have to leave the comfort of our homes to buy new toys that show up at our doorstep! We forget, when we want something (a new phone case, towels to replace the ones we have, bubble tea, whatever it may be), that momentary pleasures associated with the acquisition of new things and experiences don’t equate to long-term happiness. When solely relied on for joy, they only lead to disappointment. And so yeah, it really does take strength and will to go against the grain, to stop the fingers from clicking confirm order.
My definition of Frugality
What does being frugal really mean? In its essence, it’s about living intentionally (a common theme for me). It means knowing my priorities and working towards my goals. And it’s about recognizing and discarding that which can stand in the way of reaching them. There is an almost infinite number of ways to spend money, but when it comes down to it, there are only a limited number of items that we actually need to live sustainably. A frugal mindset internalizes this fact. It’s almost like a complete rejection of the basis of materialism. But taking this attitude doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t want things or have life goals. In fact, as I just mentioned, that is one of my main motivations for my frugality.
Little by little
A wise man once told me that: “little by little, a little becomes a lot.” While I generally remember his words when working hard to accomplish something big (little by little), it applies here too. All purchases, however small, will eventually add up to something quite large. Surprisingly, over time, small unnecessary purchases ($1, $5, $10, etc.) can amount to the price of a new car, or the down payment for a house.
How has being Frugal helped me?
Living with a frugal mindset has helped me reach goals that would have been impossible without it. It has supported a balanced life, forming fertile ground for the cultivation of inner peace and true joy. I am partial to frugality because it has helped my family build the life that we love. And while it took time to build this life of our design, we owe much of it to the title of this post.
Tips to become more frugal:
This enormous topic may be a subject of a future article. However, here are some suggestions on how to get started:
1. If you aren’t already, get yourself on a budget! This is crucial. Account for unknowns. Make sure you aren’t left where you started after unexpected expenses.
2. Consider all of your current expenses, and how you can reduce them. Is everything you spend necessary? For example, do you have cable television, but mostly watch Netflix?
3. Are you getting the best price for every service that you use? Shop around, make sure.
4. Ask yourself before clicking on the confirm order button, do I need this, or will this greatly improve life? Consider the items you can live without and don’t buy them.
5. When something breaks, consider whether it can be fixed. We live in a throw away culture. Sometimes fixing is the best option. And sometimes it can be more expensive than replacing. Nevertheless, look into the options.
6. Have fun! Even if it doesn’t seem like it, living with a frugal mindset can be one of the most rewarding decisions you can make.
Disclaimer: I’m not a financial advisor, and my intention is not to meddle in other people’s finances. This post is simply about a belief and a lifestyle I have come to embody. It has helped me a great deal, and I hope it will help you too.