This is a guest post by Alban from Australia. He is a personal finance writer for Home Loan Finder.
Frugality is a major life choice and it is not surprising that some people hit a wall after converting to a simpler and more affordable way of life – wondering if it is all really worth it, and yearning for their luxuries and credit cards. However, if you approach a frugal lifestyle with the right preparation and commitment, you won’t be wasting your efforts. Plus, you will be making a positive difference in your life and in the lives of those around you.
At times it can be difficult to stay on track, but if you can get over that first hump then you can begin to learn how to effectively execute on your frugality while maintaining your passion for the cause. That first hump might be soon after you begin or it can be two years down the road, but you’ll know you’re there when you first tire of frugality and monitoring your expenses becomes a bore. However, you must get past this temporary loss in motivation in order to reap the true benefits: added income, the feeling of freedom, and the exponential growth of your investments.
If you’re currently at the point where you wonder if your efforts are for nothing, don’t be tempted to give up and piddle away all the savings you’ve acquired. While you are quite right to feel as though you deserve a treat, make it a frugal treat. For example, take a bath, go away with your family on a camping trip, or spend a day at the beach – all of these activities will recharge your enthusiasm without draining your finances.
To avoid wasting your efforts in the future, try to follow these five steps.
1 – Understand that frugal families are not the norm
Sometimes it can be so hard to know whether the changes you’ve made are worth it because you see your friends enjoying the luxurious life that you were once accustomed to. However, just as you start to wonder how everyone else is able to afford these things, remember that they probably can’t afford it. These people are probably living beyond their means, and surviving on credit. So, it’s quite understandable that while you budget and save in a consumerism society, you feel a little out of place.
2 – Don’t forget to live
While frugality is important, you must remember to keep enjoying life. It’s impossible to live a life of feverish spending and then expect to become a saver overnight. It’s just not going to happen. Budget a certain amount each month for your “Play Money”. Let’s say this amount is $200. This is the money you can use spontaneously – going out to eat, buying an item at the mall for your friend because you they’ll just love it, or maybe it’s attending a sporting event on the weekend. If you keep some spontaneity in your life, it’s much more likely that you’ll stick to your spending plan.
3 – Stay focused on your goals
If you’re feeling unmotivated by your frugality and you begin to wonder if your efforts are going to waste, take a look at that savings balance and remember where those savings were a year ago – they probably didn’t exist. This will help you remember that every time you skip dinner at a restaurant or a night out at the movies you are getting yourself closer to your goal, whether you are aiming to be debt free, buy a house, or travel.
4 – Have someone hold you accountable
When you feel that you are truly serious about implementing these changes, you need to consider telling your family and friends. Without someone holding you accountable, it will be incredibly easy to slip back into your old habits. But, if you let someone else in on your plans, chances are that you will think twice about making a questionable purchase. Also, if you can convince one of your friends to take the journey of frugality with you, it will make the process 100 times easier. It might even be fun!
5 – Expect obstacles
This point seems obvious, but it’s very true! Your initial spending plan will not be perfect. You’ll most likely forget about a common expenditure, or maybe your car will break down. These are things that you’ll learn to plan for. Obstacles are in front of everyone, but if we prepare for them financially, they will hardly even faze you.
What have you done lately that helped you stay frugal? Maybe you decided to dine in, have a picnic on the beach, or invited friends to the house rather than going out to the movies. Leave a comment and let me know!
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.