The Challenges of Living Frugally

February 20, 2012

How To Live Frugally

Truly, everyone wants to live more frugally.  Even if you buy high end shoes and insist on certain luxuries,  we all know there is more “frugal to do” than is already being done and areas that need to be tailored to save money.

To me, being frugal isn’t about being cheap- it’s simply being smart about where you’re needlessly overspending and becoming more thoughtful on how you spend your money and your time.

When you make the decision to save money- whether you’re doing so to get out of debt, save for a big purchase or simply realize you need to cut back to be more authentic in your lifestyle it’s going to present challenges.  So what are the biggest challenges of learning to live frugally?  Read on!

The Biggest Challenges of Learning To Live Frugally:

1.  Taking Time To Think Ahead

I know that sounds silly, but trust me- when you’ve been spending money like it’s going out of style because you’re a girl-on-the-go, learning to slow down to plan ahead will save you money but can be a huge stumbling block!  Typically the biggest holes in our budget are when we are out later than anticipated and need to grab dinner out or we forget to secure tickets ahead of time for a big event.

As a frugal femme myself, this is a big challenge for me.  Usually, I’m so darn busy and in my own head that I forget to grab snacks before running to class or hopping on the train.  Little snack and coffee purchases add up!  If I simply remember to use my travel mug and grab some granola bars I can have a quick-win and save some cash- it’s just a problem of remembering to do so and planning ahead.

Convenience is an expensive habit- know you pay big time for it.  Whether it’s last minute reservations, prepared food or late fees, when you don’t invest the appropriate time to care for things properly you’ll pay for it in cash.   


2.  Dealing With Materialistic Pressures

One thing I see again and again is that women will easily cut back on a mani/pedi or coffee for themselves but quickly then feel guilty about their “lack” of funding by overcompensating in the gifts they give to others.  It’s one thing to deny yourself, but women have this overwhelming guilt simply at the FEAR of not being able to “provide” for others.   Just the thought of denying or cutting back a loved one of any token of affection freaks them out, and rightfully so.

Just remember- your frugality is a gift to yourself and your future.  Making cut backs will enable a happier, financially sound future where you can be more giving and available in the long term.  Making these cuts will make you feel insecure at times, but if you feel like you can’t afford for an all-out bachelorette party in Vegas know it might mean a hard conversation to have with a friend, but at least don’t overcompensate by going out of your way to hide the fact that you’re struggling with money.

It’s odd to think that some women frantically cover up that they’re broke by buying expensive gifts for others when their electricity might get shut off or their bills are piling up, but “hiding” or overcompensating what’s really going on as you resume control is a natural reaction.  You love the people in your life- know that the money won’t change that.

If you see yourself buying tokens you can’t afford or are “keeping up with the Jonses,” that it’s a normal reaction and watch yourself for it.


3.  Learning To Be Brutally Honest With Your Mistakes

I had to make some serious lifestyle changes when I moved to Chicago- and the crux of it was learning to live frugally.  I had to clear out a lot of the junk I had accumulated and I had plenty of moments where I wanted to smack myself on the forehead- “WHY DID I BUY THIS?”  Let me tell you, it happened a lot.  My stuff had consumed my life that it was getting in the way of me being able to move.  I didn’t know that dollar store shopping would come back to haunt me as I had to deal with what to do with it.

When you clear out all your stuff and try to simplify your life, you will have to come to grips with what the “stuff” represented to you.  Clothes that no longer fit, or hell, never even did but you bought it in the hopes it someday would can totally make you feel crappy.  Sifting through shoes that were never worn and yet, were paid for on credit will make you feel like an irresponsible child-  forgive yourself.

You’re on a journey and pat yourself on the back for confronting what most people are too scared to see:  the reality of their own spending habits.


4.   Adjusting To How You Spend Your Time

So, you know you need to be more frugal- but what got you here?  Your habits.  Take a look at how you react when you’re either A.) Bored  B.) Emotional or C.) When you get paid.

If you’re an emotional spender (like after a fight with a boyfriend) or if you’re more likely to blow a paycheck with online shopping when you don’t have plans on a weekend, watch out sister!   Another insidious habit is the feeling of “deserving it” after a long month of hard work.  Yes sweetie, I firmly feel we all “deserve it,” but find other ways to treat yourself and break the reactive habit of spending everything you make.

Shopping out of boredom is so easy- and retailers realize this.  Shopping in and of itself is a hobby, so if you can handle it, try to use something like Pinterest or Polyvore to create devilishy gorgeous line ups without having to spend mindlessly.  If you do eventually cave and purchase something, at least you did your research!  Sometimes the thrill of the  hunt is more fun than the actual purchase.

Being unfrugal is just as much of a habit as being frugal is!  Give yourself time to undo the bad ones and build the good ones.


I know I must have missed something- especially since we all “do frugal” in our own unique way, so what was your biggest challenge in learning to be frugal?

19 comments so far.

19 responses to “The Challenges of Living Frugally”

  1. addvodka says:

    I think my biggest challenge has been keeping up with materialistic pressures – always trying to keep up with the Jonses. I'd like to say I'm over that, but I'm not really. I still pine for pretty leather sectionals and big TVs, but I can't afford those things right now and I don't really need them, so learning how to quell those spending urges was difficult.

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      I noticed when I joined a sorority I started spending a lot more money- not only out of necessity (events, fundraisers and stuff) but general wardrobe additions that didn't necessarily have anything to do with a specific event but was more for my overall fashion, truly I was keeping up with the Joneses (granted, I loved them, but phew! They were some glam sisters!)

      I've calmed down from my crazy shopping days (not by much it seems sometimes) but I definitely know what it's like to feel the pressure! Now that my friends are settling down and I'm still in school, I see that they have gorgeously furnished apartments with their new hubbies and fun parties but I'm just not there yet financially- I am trying to do what's best with my money for now, not just "keep up." 🙂

  2. Money Infant says:

    My biggest challenge was to stop myself from all the small purchases throughout the week. I finally put a stop to them by not carrying cash anymore. That was several years ago. Now we live in Thailand where most everything is paid for with cash so I have to carry it all the time and you know what? I have kept my frugality and haven't been tempted to make those small purchases like I once used to.

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      I have always wanted to visit Thailand! I am sure the culture you find yourself in has a huge impact on how you spend your money simply due to little differences in the availability of credit, the "shopping experience" and convenience. From my experience I waste a lot less food now that I have to carry it all myself w/o a car in the city, so maybe if I used cash I'd spend a lot less if I had to carry it all around and be mindful of it! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Monica says:

    Your article really hit home with me, and I have been guilty of several of these actions. It's incredible how much our emotions are attached to spending money, and the ways that we justify buying that extra item we don't need. (Target $1 section!) I like the fact that you gave sensible solutions to the problem, and I will definitely keep them in mind the next time I'm tempted to spend.!

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      Oh my gosh- I know all too well the temptations of the dollar section at Target. It's right there when you walk in, with it's fancy little treats for just a buck, I used to be such a Dollar Tree junkie too!

  4. janinenicolee says:

    Great article! Definitely an eye-opener to things that I need to be aware of that I may not even notice. Sometimes I like to remind myself that while I may not have 3 pairs of Loubutin shoes I have a solid Emergency fund and am on my way to meeting lots of my other savings goals. I guess it definitely comes down to what you value… RRSP or 9 designer dresses?

  5. Matt says:

    Dealing with materialistic pressures is a good reminder. We are constantly bombarded with new, great, awesome marketing for the latest product. We have to remind ourselves of our goals, and live with those oals at he forefront of our minds.

  6. bax says:

    I have to work to avoid temptation. If I know I need to buy dog food at a store with lots of impulse purchase opportunities, I make sure to eat lunch first. Just being full helps me stay on task.

  7. I have been called cheap many times, by friends and even family. I'm not cheap at all, I just choose wisely what to spend my money on. I plan everything out and if there is something I need/want, I do my homework and not just walk in blindly buying an object that can wait until it is priced lower. Being cheap is easy, being frugal takes work.

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      So true Evan! Usually people get a bit uncomfortable when they see others taking charge of their own lives and try and pass it off as silly or tease to normalize and rationalize their own discomfort. Heck, I'd rather be called cheap than being financially in the hole any day!

  8. budgetingbabe says:

    This is a great article, gal! "when you’ve been spending money like it’s going out of style because you’re a girl-on-the-go…" so so true. I once bought a shirt because I spilled something on the one I was wearing and was nowhere near home; I literally walked out of the dressing room with the shirt on and threw the other one in my purse. Hello!? Tide pen? Extra scarf? Cute pin to cover up spills? Then, it seemed totally normal – I didn't have time to stop! I was a woman of action! But now, with a closet full of clothes I rarely wear, I can't get over the stupid situations that caused me to buy many of them.

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      Haha, I've so been tempted to do that same type of thing, usually though when I get stuck downtown in uncomfortable shoes and can't stand to walk around. If I'm in a pair of unruly heels or flats that dig in I will walk past the store and wonder "Hmmm, this could be solved instantly" but realize I could just be stuck with a different uncomfortable pair!

  9. Ella says:

    For me it was learning to make the difference between needless expenses and expenses related to things I really enjoy. I thought I enjoyed my daily lattes but when I decided to stop buying them I realised I didn't need them and didn't miss them. It's crazy to think I used to spend US$7 on a latte every single day!

    • Shannyn@FruBeautiful says:

      I know most people that read personal finance are so over the "latte" factor but found that my bills would get so totally out of control when I let the small purchases slip and become habitual. Little things add up so quickly!

  10. […] The Challenges of Living Frugally – via @frugalbeautiful […]

  11. […] The Challenges of Living Frugally from Frugal Beautiful […]

  12. […] The Challenges of Living Frugally – FrugalBeautiful […]

  13. This article is very nice thanks


Get Updates Via Email

Join The Frugal Beautiful Update List!
Get Posts Sent To Your Inbox...subscribe below!