Frugality 101: Mindset

I haven’t written too many “how-to” types of posts on frugality. This is mainly because frugality comes natural to me and I do not put much conscious though into being frugal. People do seem to be interested in how I can live on so little so I’m starting a series on frugality to give everyone an idea of how I do it. You might find some of my ideas a little extreme if so you can adapt these ideas to fit your own needs and still be pretty frugal.

I think the most important thing to change when becoming more frugal is your mindset. You need to get out of the mindset that money is the only way to solve problems and that money is the key to happiness. With a little creative thinking you will find that it is often possible to solve problems without spending money or at least without spending too much money. You will also find that there are plenty of things that make you happy that cost no or very little money. I’ll have specific examples of the most common categories as this series goes on but I think it is best to establish the mindset first.

You also need to be conscious of your spending. Many people buy a meal out, the latest bestseller, or some electronic gadget and don’t give the purchase a second thought. I consciously aware of every purchase I make. I don’t agonize over whether I should a McDonald’s extra value meal or not but I am aware that I am unnecessarily spending money and make a mental note of it. Making occasional small, unnecessary purchases of this sort won’t keep you from being frugal but allowing them to become a habit will.

There are several tools you can use to help develop a frugal mindset. Tomorrow I will post about the best tool for helping you develop a frugal mindset and seeing where you have the most room to become more frugal.

Frugality and Weight Loss

scaled perspective
photo credit: billaday

Many bloggers like to compare personal finance and weight loss. It is an easy analogy to make. Both usually involve setting a goal and working toward it. There are fairly simple rules you have to follow to be successful (spend less than you earn, eat fewer calories than you burn) but yet success can be difficult. Following a strict budget is similar to following a strict diet. Both require a measure of self-discipline. It seems that if you are successful at one you should be successful at the other. This isn’t always the case. I have my personal finances under control but am still struggling to lose weight.

I’m not sure why this is. It might be because it is easy for me to not spend money as I don’t have a strong desire to spend money on most things. I do have a strong desire to eat junk food though. This is hard for me to overcome but I think I might be making some progress. I haven’t eaten fast food or bought any junk food so far this month other than my free Mcdonalds. Of course, it is only the eighth day of the month so this isn’t much of an accomplishment but it is better than usual and I feel that I will be able to forego eating junk food this month. What is working now is just thinking of the negative consequences of eating the junk food. This still seems like deprivation though. I want to get in the mindset where eating healthy is its own reward and something I look forward to. I don’t really get excited about eating healthy foods. If you have any ideas on how to change this mindset I would like to hear them.

Ask Tight Fisted Miser

I’d like to start a weekly feature where I answer any questions my readers might have. You can ask me anything to do with frugality or personal finance. If you want to ask about my upcoming hike or anything else I’ve posted on you can ask that too. Heck, you can ask me anything you want. I won’t guarantee that I’ll answer anything though.

I’m having a hard time coming up with stuff to post about. Most frugality topics seem either too obvious or they have already been written about many times or both. If you have any topic you would like to post about let me know.

Just leave a comment on this post with your question or topic and I’ll do my best to follow up. Thanks.

Frugality and Quality of Life

After reading a post at The Simple Dollar on quality of life and consumer spending it made me think of my own views regarding quality of life and frugality.

In the post Trent argues that consumer purchases do not increase your quality of life. I agree with that to a point. The examples in the post included going out for lunch and seeing a move. Both of these are things I regularly indulge in and I do believe they raise my quality of life.

That does not mean that my quality of life would go down if I didn’t do them though. When I go on my hike I won’t be eating out for lunch very often and will rarely be seeing a movie. I expect my quality of life will be even higher then than it is now.

The difference to me is that I will be choosing to give up those indulgences. I won’t be forced to give them up. This goes to my underlying philosophy of frugality which is that frugality is about choosing to do less expensive things not depriving yourself of things.

The American Dream on a Shoestring

The sixth chapter of Your Money or Your Life deals with frugality. The original version contains 101 frugality tips. I understand that the new version doesn’t have these tips but has a more general discussion on frugality.  This wasn’t an area where I really needed any help but I enjoy reading other’s frugal ideas.  And I guess a few people enjoy reading my frugal ideas or they wouldn’t be reading this blog.  Since the orginal version of this came out there are now tons of blogs and sites dealing with the topic of frugality.  If you want to read more about frugality after reading this chapter of Your Money or Your Life there is plenty of material out there to read.