Frugal living, for beginners, is the starting point of Financial Fortitude.
The key to avoiding unnecessary financial stress is saving our money.
Emergency savings accounts, investment accounts, and Financial Freedom all take money to create. So spending without a purpose is a hurdle to the foundation of financial peace.
Frugal Living For Beginners: Money for What Matters
Our focus should always be to have money for what matters, which means getting your priorities straight.
Of course, everyone’s priorities will be different.
For example, I am not a big fan of video games, so buying electronics is not high on my priority list. However, I know several families that do put video games at a high priority because they have family game nights that revolve around them.
Start with a List
Make a list of things that truly matter to you. Things that represent stability and make you feel happy.
Mine looks like this, in no particular order:
- Clean and nice clothes and shoes
- Going local places like the park
- Never running out of household necessities like toilet paper, laundry and dish detergent, trash bags, etc
- Always having hygienic supplies like soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc
- Creative toys for my kids like play dough, art supplies, etc
- Always having medicine like fever reducer on hand before we need them
- A yard for outside play
- Time to observe my kids in play
- A reliable vehicle and household appliances
- Food my family enjoys eating
Make a Plan
I can keep a plan of what I need to buy to feel safe, secure, and happy with my list.
This also helps me build certain habits that prevent me from spending unnecessarily.
For instance, the first thing on my list is nice clothes and shoes.
I buy kids’ clothes only twice a year at a local week-long consignment sale.
I go early in the week to get shoes before they are picked over. Then I go back on a half-price day to get clothes.
I get nice name-brand clothes for almost nothing. It’s my habit not to pay more than $2-$4 total for any item, although certain items like rain boots do usually cost more.
I avoid overspending caused by shopping too much. I don’t wander in stores to window shop, and when I go to stores like Target or Kroger, I avoid the clothes section entirely.
Once I have the clothes, I must keep them clean and dry to prevent them from getting moldy, ripped, or otherwise ruined.
This means I must do my best to keep up with laundry. I must keep laundry detergent at the ready. And I have learned to mend clothes and remove stains.
Clear Picture of Stability
Once you have a clear picture of what your stability looks like, you can start trimming away your buying habits so that you never have to wonder where your money went.
This habit, combined with tracking your spending, will help you cement control over your money.
Wasting your money won’t seem so tempting because you will have a clear picture of where you need it to go to conquer your stress.
Don’t get so focused on saving money that you start to act compulsively or hurt others.
All the money in the world won’t comfort your kids if you are constantly fighting burnout.
Don’t exhaust yourself so that you can’t enjoy your time with your children or lose a sense of yourself.
The difference between miserliness and frugality is when I am worried about saving money more than my children experiencing joy.
Where does the line exist for you? Let’s start a conversation! Comment below.