My One Favorite Frugal Living Tip
As the Editor of a frugal living website, I read a lot of suggestions about how to have a less-expensive, more-fulfilling life. Every day, on both Wise Bread and on other frugal living and personal finance sites, I come across dozens of inventive and useful ways to save, spend, reuse, and live better for less. (See also: 25 Frugal Changes You Can Make Today)
But there is one suggestion that is more important than all of the others, one that I will share with you now, if you’ll allow me to be a little crass —
Or, if you prefer: bite the bullet, grow a pair, hunker down. Be the tough that gets going.
Basically, don't give up.
It’s easy to read about living frugally in the same way that you might stare jealously at the toned cover model on this month’s issue of Shape. If you just try an ab exercise or two, you’re never going to look like that woman. She probably spends hours and hours a week working out — because that was a decision she made and stuck with. She likely does crunches to the point where her abs scream with exhaustion.
Similarly, it is highly unlikely that you will achieve your frugal goals — or, really, any goals — if you don’t make some serious, occasionally painful, and most importantly, consistent effort.
Of course, consistent, painful effort isn't easy, and it can seem even more difficult when you try to follow suggestions or techniques that simply aren’t right for you. Yes, it’s not hard to feel like a failure when you just can’t stick with what seems like very sensible advice. But you also have your own priorities, your own beliefs, and your own ways of working that are most likely to lead to success for you. Not every good-sounding suggestion will actually improve your life.
For example, let me admit something — even though I have been passionate about frugal living for several years and ultimately made a career out of it, I can tell you that I lived without a budget for an embarrassingly long time. Even though I lived frugally, my finances suffered.
Why no budget? Because I had tried making a couple of very simple spreadsheet-based ones, and they simply didn’t work for me. I thought that meant I was hopeless when it came to sticking to the numbers. What it really meant was that I needed a more intensive system for tracking my funds. I tried more ways of tracking my budget, and eventually found a method that worked great for me.
When trying to achieve any goal, there will be trial and error. There will be setbacks. The most important thing is to keep at it.
Wise Bread, of course, is here to help you. In addition to giving you new ideas for ways to spend smarter, save better, and enjoy life, there are also several articles specifically about sticking with it. Follow Sarah’s best kept secret to frugal living, read about Philip’s comparison of frugality as a tactic and a goal, and Julie’s piece on goal setting, deconstructed.
And don't give up.