By: K.H. Smith
The word frugal has a bit of a negative connotation, like cheap and thrifty, but I think if you look at the benefits of living frugally it starts to look more positive. I don’t remember when exactly I adopted the frugal mentality. It didn’t start at birth even though my Dad was the king of frugal living. He didn’t spend money on anything unnecessary when I was growing up. He and my Mom made good choices with their money and saved well and it paid off! My Dad taught me good financial planning and spending habits. I must say, I splurged a little in college and right after, but I was smart enough not to get too deep in debt before realizing this was a bad plan. I was able to fall back on those good lessons and recover in a matter of months. There was great value in having experienced that debt and also climbing out of it myself. I knew if I ever got in debt I could get out of it again. I adopted quite a few of my Dad’s frugal living habits and they are serving me well too!
My mindset is that of not paying late fees, interest on credit cards, parking tickets or any other wasteful fines. I hate the idea of paying money for nothing in return. I frequently look for ways to avoid fees and fines with banks, cell phone, and cable companies, Redbox, etc. Any way to reduce my utility bills as much as possible I take. I have paid off student loans and car loans ahead of time to reduce the interest paid.
Taking my time to do my taxes and being sure to get all my allowed deductions. I have had a lot of deductions over the years, between student loans interest, mortgage interest, charitable donations, medical expenses, job expenses, and child care expenses. I would hate to overpay Uncle Sam, so I double and triple check before filing!
There is a great sense of satisfaction from buying things for less than full price, not paying extra fees, and saving money everywhere I can. Each saving is a win and gives me a little more money to put towards fun things, like vacations.
This frugal mentality has saved me thousands of dollars over the years. It has also allowed me to have more cash in my pocket to pay off student loans faster, save more for retirement and college for my son, and still live well.
I will admit that occasionally I look at people who have more than me with a little envy. But for me to have those things, I would be in debt and those things would not bring me the joy I hope they would. Keeping up with the Jones mentality is a dangerous one. There will always be people living more lavishly and doing more fun and expensive things. I find the best way to combat this thought is with gratitude. Be grateful for what you have, find joy in where you are even if you are thick in the getting out of debt mode and it sucks. You have many things to be grateful for, I am sure. Maybe it’s your health, your family, or your friends. Take a few minutes every day to think about what you are grateful for or what brings you joy. It will truly help your perspective on life.
I like to think if we were all a little more frugal, how much more stable our financial futures would be. Frugal doesn’t sound so negative now, does it?