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!
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.