“Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.” – Benjamin Franklin
As I’ve said before, the lack of frugality is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons poor people stay poor and rich people become poor. No matter how much money you have, if you don’t learn to take care of it, it will never last.
I personally found that the easiest way to be frugal is to change your mindset. We often hear people say: “I need those shoes!” or “I need a new TV…” or basically any other material thing you can think of. Now let’s be honest. What are these thing?
They are WANTS and nothing more.
If you want to make the virtue of frugality a part of you, but you sometimes find yourself saying things like “I need…” or “I must have…”, then you should stop fast. As the law of attraction teaches us:
We are what we think about (and do), most of the time.
I’ve heard the above phrase from Brian Tracy in 2012 and, since then, it has been popping in the back of my mind each time I have thoughts that are not focused towards my goals.
I’ll be honest with you. I’ve had a difficult time changing my thought patterns, but something that helps equally as much and is also much easier for us to implement is to change our vocabulary. The exercise itself is very simple, but the benefits strongly outway the effort.
Basically, I just made a 2 column table. In the first column, I wrote “What NOT to say” and in the second one I wrote “Changes into…”. Allow me to give a few examples:
I need… = I want to…
I’m worried about… = What can I do to help/improve…
I have to… = I want to…
I feel bad/sad/etc. = I decide to feel bad/sad/etc.
What do I need to do to…? = What should get done for… to be…?
As you can see from the above examples, changing your vocabulary puts you in the position of responsibility. All of a sudden, you gain power over whatever you are talking or thinking about.
“I want to make more money so I can pay the rent.” Is it possible that I don’t make it and get kicked out? Yes, of course, but I won’t die if I cannot afford rent, so it’s not a need. Changing that to “I want”, puts the power back into your hands and makes you ask the question: “How can I make the money I need to pay for the rent?” and then all kinds of solutions pop up like:
“Well… I can sell my TV (that I shouldn’t be using anyway) and pay for 2-3 months and have enough time to find a new job/client/project.”
Wow! Now that’s much better! After you finished writing down all of the disempowering words or phrases you use and found alternatives that empower you instead, you can move on to the next step.
Decide who you are
You are the only person that is 100% responsible for the choices you take and the decisions you make. I personally LOVE a simple (but powerful) quote from Jim Rohn I’ve read a long time ago, which is:
Poor people have big TV’s. Rich people have big libraries.
Knowing that, I swear I laugh (in my mind, of course) each time I hear people talking about TV’s or I see them in other people’s houses. I’ve been on a “No TV diet” for over 9 years now and it feels amazing! I use the extra time to work towards the achievement of my vision.
I realized that it’s filled with things that I do not want to put in my brain and, if I want to watch a movie, I can buy it or watch it online. I just took the simple decision that “I do not watch TV” and it’s been like that ever since.
Who are you? What represents you? Do you really need what you think you do? Or are they just wants? I found that the best way to find out is to design your life in a way that is congruent with your own values and beliefs.
Frugal people are also future-oriented
What do you really want in life? A $20,000 car, or a $10,000 car and the rest put aside today in an investment portfolio that will grow exponentially over time and will be a wonderful gift for you children? (or your retirement)
Thinking of tomorrow usually helps people make better decisions today.
If you go on a trip to the sea and your main goal is to stay almost all day on the beach, do your really need a five star hotel just to sleep in? Of course not! (of course some people would disagree, but then again, we’re not all alike)
Not paying for luxury on one vacation is usually enough to allow your family to go on two vacations!
Remember, when thinking of love and family, it’s not the things, but the moments, that matter. Spending quality time with your spouse or children in infinitely more important than what you could do with money.
I see frugality as a way of being and that is different from “being cheap”. Cheap people don’t spend in general. Even if it’s important and they know they should.
Frugal people, on the other hand, are more strategic. They save money where they can, so they have enough for what’s truly important. (for them)
For example, a frugal person would live in a house that is smaller than what he/she could afford, but uses the difference to buy healthy food for his entire family for several years, allowing them to stay healthy and live a more fulfilled life.
The simplest strategy I found to becoming (and staying) frugal is to never make a financial decision in the moment of the offer. Always allow yourself several days or even weeks to think about it and see if it’s really worth it.
Use this time to do your research, look at the competition, negotiate (when possible) and never forget to write down the answer(s) to questions such as “How will this purchase increase the quality of my life?” or “Is there something more important I could invest in, that is more beneficial for me and/or my family?”
I hope I’ve been of service to you today and helped you on your journey towards financial freedom.
Creating a better tomorrow,
P.S.: This is the followup article from “How to get back on track”, and was also written in about an hour. 🙂