When it's hard to be frugal (and how to talk yourself into it anyway)

By Sarah Winfrey on 29 December 2006 (Updated 10 June 2007) 2 comments

Frustrated Girl

 

Honestly, it's been hard to be frugal lately. My fiance and I are moving our stuff into the place that will be ours after the wedding, and I want it to be nice. I know, it's just a 2-bedroom apartment in a small, non-descript apartment complex, but I want it to be home. Part of what would make it home for me would be creating a place where I'm comfortable, and that can take a goodly chunk of change. Also, it's Christmas, and when I'm splurging for others, it's hard for me to stop splurging for myself. After all, I know what I want better than anyone else does, and when it's dangled in front of my face...well, that's just temptation waiting to happen. Or..well...it's tempation happening, because I refuse to close my eyes, stick my fingers in my ears, and block it all out with a loud, "La, La, La! I'm not listening!" in the middle of the store. A girl has to draw the line somewhere.

I won't say that I've been completely successful in resisting the temptations, but I've done well enough that I'm proud of myself. I've gathered my top three tactics for talking myself into frugality, and out of spending money I don't want to spend, in the hopes that they'll help you, too.

Wait

This is said time and time again, but it's definitely true for me. Purchases I make on the fly tend to be the product of my often-capricious emotions. I value emotions, quite deeply in fact. But I don't think that how I feel about an item should be the driving force behind my purchasing it. I know that because the items I've purchased on an emotional whim are the ones that I've later wondered about. This doesn't happen with purchases that are well thought-through.

Don't Wait

I know this is a contradiction of the above, but hear me out. If you have thought about a purchase (particularly a large one) and you know what you want, jump on a deal when you see it. Dave and I needed a fridge for our new place. We knew what we wanted (freezer on the bottom) and what brands were good. He saw an ad for a local store that had a great deal, but we had to purchase it that day. We did, and it's one of the purchases I'm proudest of. How does this lead to resisting the temptation to spend more than you want to spend? Having chosen to wait and ended up with a better deal once, I will be more likely to do it again later, because I know that it can really happen. Sometimes, it's all about motivation.

Visualize Your Priorities

I'm big on priorities, but sometimes just remembering that I have them isn't enough. Instead, I have to visualize myself living them. Thinking, "Dave and I will be able to travel just a little bit sooner if I don't buy 7 new Christmas CDs," doesn't always work. But closing my eyes and seeing us hiking through the mountains in New Zealand (the ones where The Lord of the Rings was filmed usually does. When I'm really working toward something, I will cut out pictures of it and put them in places where they'll help me remember what I'm really after. If I have one in my purse, I'll look at it when I'm contemplating a purchase. When it successfully puts me there, in my dream, I won't buy what I'm tempted to buy.

 

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Will Chen's picture

That technique will certainly save me thousands of dollars a year. I often look at the crap around my room and think: "I really didn't need that, why did I buy it?" A lot of times, shopping on impulse will have terrible consequences.

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Angela

This really helps. I always say to myself, THIS now *or* HOUSE later... Yes this 20 or 30 bucks can go right to savings is usually my next thought. But like your third point, this still isn't always enough. Now I have a new weapon in my fight against mindless spending.