There’s people who are born with the frugal gene. You know those people who are natural savers, always find the best deals, and don’t seem to care for luxury cars and brand name clothes. All they care about is how many digits there are before the comma in their bank account. I’ve met others who weren’t born with the frugal gene, but were able to gain smart money management skills through their upbringing by budget-minded parents.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t born with that gene nor did I grow up in a budget-minded family. I truly enjoy going to restaurants, would love to drive a new luxury car, and I can’t stay away from window shopping at designer stores. However, gradually I have made progress in restraining my spending and embracing frugal habits. As a person who was born wired to feel happy and joyous when shopping and spending money, it hasn’t been easy and has taken time for me to re-wire my habits. I knew I had to stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, Kardashians, or every Instagram celebrity because I would never be able to keep up. With today’s social media, it is difficult to not compare material possessions. To be honest, I still struggle and have setbacks but when I do I am able to jump back on the frugal train by doing the things below.
- Maintaining a Budget. By keeping a budget, I have been able to control where I spend my money. Before I started the budget, I guess-timated whether I had enough and although after college I hardly got into any credit card debt I was living paycheck to paycheck. With a budget, I am able to save more and have better control on where my money is going.
- No Impulse Purchases. I never impulse-buy on things like clothes, shoes, accessories or big-ticket items such electronics, vehicles or home furniture. I have a tendency of getting buyer’s remorse after buying things especially if it was a high ticket item so I tend to do a lot of research on the type of item I would like to buy before I make the purchase.
- Shopping Around. Always look to see if another store has a better price. The Internet has made it so easy to price compare that a minute spent searching is worth it, even if it only saves a dollar.
- Knowing My Habits. I try to stay away from online shopping because I know I am too lazy to re-packaged items that need to be returned and then drive to the shipping location. Also, I often forget and return the item past the allowable return date. Because of my laziness and forgetfulness, most of my shopping is done at retail stores that have a physical location near me even if I pay slightly more. I frequently have buyer’s remorse, so I always shop at places that allow returns and stay away from stores that have inconvenient return methods.
- Maintaining a Clutter-Free Life. Always ask yourself whether you really need the item even if it only cost 50¢, it’s 90% off, or seems like an amazing deal. Maintaining a clutter-free life will save you money because it will keep you from purchasing all those extra shenanigans you would have bought otherwise.
- Watching Videos and Reading All Things Related to Frugality. During this journey, I have spent countless hours reading books such as Rich Dad Poor Dad, online articles/blogs, listening to Clark Howard on Podcast and Dave Ramsey on YouTube, and watching a million YouTube videos on money management. This has kept me motivated and it constantly reinforces the frugality ideology I want to maintain.
- Cut Cost Where Possible. At some point, I thought that using and carrying around a prepaid phone was like carrying around a knockoff Rolex watch. Yes, I know how snobbish of me. I worked at a cellular service store during my high school years and from that experience I though prepaid phones were for people with bad credit and though prepaid services were inferior. About two years ago, I traded the $100+/month Verizon bill for a $20/month prepaid phone and guess what? I didn’t even notice the difference. Contrary to popular belief, no one cares what cellular service you are using.
For me, maintaining a frugal lifestyle has been like trying to maintain a diet, sometimes I derail and go on a binge shopping spree (return policy to the rescue), but just like a diet, I force myself to get back on track. This journey requires work and “sacrifice” but I know it will be worth it one day when I am able to retire to some small town in Italy.