Mistake 1: Spending Too Much Money to Be Frugal
Although in some cases you need to spend a little money to save a lot of money, generally, this is not part of the frugal mentality you need to adopt. Beware of shopping sprees in the name of adopting new frugal habits; until you know the habit is maintainable, it’s not worth spending the money. (Besides, there’s usually a more moderate or creative approach to the task that costs less.)
Mistake 2: Doing Everything at Once
Turning your life upside down overnight in the name of starting to live frugally is a recipe for disaster. Living frugally isn’t about sacrificing everything and depriving yourself; it’s about making balanced choices that allow you to live large on a small budget. By swinging from one extreme to another, your ability to strike a frugal medium — one that is actually a maintainable lifestyle — is remote.
Deprivation is not frugal. Although adopting new frugal habits might require some initial compromises, miring yourself in deprivation in the name of living frugally only invites a financial rebellion before you’ve even made any headway.
How to Really Start Living Frugally
Instead of turning your life upside down in the name of becoming frugal, here are some suggestions for how to start living frugally:
- Ease into new frugal habits in a way that’s comfortable, not shocking. If you’re going to start brown-bagging lunches, for example, and you’re used to eating out every day, then start with leftover lunches three days a week. This still gives you a lunch out two days per week to look forward to — and you’re still saving money overall.
- Adopt frugal lifestyle ideas one at a time, and incorporate them into the framework of your life. It takes 21 days of doing something to make it a habit, so allow yourself this time to weave new frugal habits into your routines. After bringing lunches to work becomes comfortable to maintain, shake up your coffee ritual by only treating yourself to Starbucks on Mondays and Fridays. Let this habit sink in, then tackle another area of your life.
- Instead of always adopting new frugal habits, try deepening a habit you’ve started. Leftover lunches going well? Then try cutting down lunches out to one day per week. Liking your home-brewed coffee? Maybe Starbucks can wait for Saturday mornings only. Or maybe Starbucks can become a thing of your past altogether.
If you want to start to live frugally, you’ll best get there slowly and methodically — as unglamorous as it sounds. But in this slow-and-steady approach, it’s easy to lose sight of the ball. Remember that you decided to start living frugally for a reason, and that reason is attached to a goal. If you stick to living frugally in a manageable way and track your progress, you’ll reach those goals — and then some.
Your frugal lifestyle is just that — a lifestyle, not a passing fancy.