Living frugally does not mean that you need to deprive yourself of everything enjoyable. Yes, you’re out to save money but that doesn’t mean you can’t have stuff. As a frugal minimalist, our life feels luxurious. How?Our basic needs are met and we make our “wants” intentional. We view frugality as already having abundance, not deprivation. We enjoy frugality in our everyday lives.
The Frugality Mindset
When we started to seriously live more frugally, we had to re-frame our mindset. Instead of feeling sad or deprived that we were purchasing secondhand items, cooking at home instead of eating out, and driving our 8 year old cars around, we viewed it as enjoying what we already have.
Frugality to us is not restrictive. Being frugal is allowing us to live this lifestyle. I’m a stay at home mom and Dan works full time. It gave me the freedom to quit my job. We are comfortable financially because we are frugal people.
Whenever you buy into what expert marketers tell you that you need, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment down the road. Did you really need to buy that? Was that purchase intentional or do you regret spending money on something that our consumerist society told you to buy?
I set myself up for disappointment early on in my adult years. I spent thousands of dollars on clothing, purses, and shoes only to now realize that none of that made me happy. Sure, I might have looked super great for a few days, but after that initial feeling of excitement of bringing something new home, I was back to feeling the urge to go buy more… and more… and more. What I was buying was cheap, fast fashion. It wasn’t satisfying much past the day I brought it home.
When we decided that minimalism was for us, that also changed my mind about frugality. One of our goals with frugality (as it is with minimalism) is to reduce our impact on the earth and saying NO to modern consumerism. I don’t deprive myself or my child of anything we need. We intentionally enjoy what we already have before we purchase anything else (wants).
Enjoy Frugality (and make it luxurious!)
Unlike my early-twenties self, I now have a small closet and make any additions to it very intentional. I plan ahead and use my 72 Hour List to make buying decisions.
Using that 72 hour list makes each purchase we make very intentional and thought out. We have time to research the best brand, find the best deal, and decide if it is the right time to make that purchase.
When you plan purchases, it allows you to scope out the best deal – which to us, is kinda the best part. We find epic garage and estate sales over the summer. If we have something on our list, we are able to hunt at sales and snag it at an amazing price.
Deciding What Matters
When Dan and I decided to do a no-spend year, we knew that we would need to spend a little bit of money to keep ourselves happy (and not turn into crazies AKA extreme cheapskates). We thought about what really mattered to us. It certainly wasn’t shopping (I broke up with my long-time BFF Target – good riddance!).
What matters to us is that we get to spend time together as a family. We value family time, travel, being outdoors, and enriching our lives with experiences. To that point, we have spent money on booking our fall vacation (mostly with credit card rewards), camping, disc golf accessories, and travel to see our parents.
For you, it might be that you care a great deal about your hobbies. Spend money on it! If it makes you happy, you shouldn’t keep yourself from it.
I would (and have) give up buying clothes for a whole year just to go on vacation. Vacation is of a higher priority that purchasing a cute top.
Stop Comparing Your Life to Someone Else’s
Comparison is a quick way to make yourself and your lifestyle feel inadequate.
Your “friends” might go on super amazing vacations around the world and post all their photos on Facebook. Why feel jealous? Oh, wait… you wish that YOU were on that trip – not them.
But you know what? They might be in debt because they put everything on credit cards or took out a home equity loan. Or they may have saved for years to go on that one trip.
Same goes for possessions. While they may have “everything” that you want, just remember that those items didn’t come for free. How they manage their money is their decision – not your’s. You may think it’s so easy for them to come by these things, but that may not be the case (remember credit cards?).
I gave up Facebook at the beginning of 2020. I get on occasionally to look for free events, ask questions in groups I’m a part of, and post the random cute photo of my kid. Best part – it’s not on my phone! It’s a digital detox of sorts. Several Facebook groups that I left were giving me anxiety – not because there was drama (although, that was part of it) but because I started comparing my life to their life. They had perfectly clean homes, nice minimalist furniture, and well behaved kids. I wanted that. Then I realized that I was happy with what my life looks like.
Make Frugality a Game
A way to enjoy frugality (and get the family on board) is by making it a game. Make it competitive!
Set a challenge for your family to only spend a certain amount on groceries or entertainment. Whenever you want take out, who can come up with the best “copy-cat” recipe? What is the lowest cost-per-serving meal you can cook? Who can find the best movie to check out from the library?
You get the idea. Make frugality a game and you’ll enjoy it more!
Frugality Does NOT Equal Deprivation
This is a BIG part of enjoying frugality – it is NOT deprivation!
Being frugal in no way deprives us of being happy and enjoying life. Frugality allows us to save for the more important things (think – retirement, big vacations, college, a new car, etc). While we do spend less money, we’ve learned a few frugal hacks along the way. This makes enjoying frugality more manageable.
Here are a few ideas:
- Secondhand shopping for high end brands
- Cheap (or free) date nights
- 24 things we quit buying to save money (you won’t miss em!)
- Frugal life hacks to save money (loads of DIY ideas!)
Think About What You Gain
When you struggle with frugality, think about what you gain.
Instead of going through the drive-thru or ordering take out, you get to enjoy cooking in your own home. If you don’t particularly enjoy cooking, you at least get to learn new skills in the kitchen. Eating at home also gives you the tools to meal plan better and gain that skill you can pass on to others.
When we find free activities to do in our city, we often learn new things. We gain new perspectives of our town and meet new people.
While shopping at Target three times a week was fun… and expensive… I spend less money on our gym membership and get far more out of it than crap I bought at Target. I’ve lost weight, gained muscle, and even made a few “gym friends”. And as much as I love being a SAHM, I get a much needed brain-break each time we go to the gym. Hooray! I’ve gained far more from the experience of the gym than I ever will from going to Target.
How simple is it to be thankful for what you have?
We, in the western world, live in moderate luxury compared to the rest of the planet.
My mantra before I buy anything that is a want rather than a need is “I have enough – my needs are meet and most of my wants. Will this item serve me well or go unappreciated?”
If there is a day where I’m feeling resentful towards our lifestyle, I quickly write down three things I’m grateful for. It’s not a fancy list, but just a little spot in my planner that day. Putting on paper what I’m grateful for makes me appreciate the life that I live – frugality and all.