Deciding to embrace a frugal living plan is one thing, but sticking to those frugal habits and living on a budget that may seem extreme to others is another matter. It can be done. Frugality is a virtue in this era of over consumption and materialism. If you have made a commitment to frugal living, congratulations. Here are some tips to making those new frugal habits stick:
• Establish the purpose of your frugality. Some people embrace frugal living for environmental, social and cultural reasons. Others are frugal because they have decided that living on a budget is necessary for their financial survival. If you know why you are doing it, you will have a much easier time sticking to your principals. Having an overarching goal in mind will keep you motivated and inspired.
• Remember what’s important. Deciding to be frugal might mean anything from giving up a car to wearing only second hand clothes, not buying anything without a coupon or not wasting any of the things you have in your life. For example, when you decide that giving time to your children is more important to you than giving them material objects such as the latest electronic games, sticking to your frugal living plan will be easier.
• Start small. In order to establish frugality in your life, you don’t have to renounce all of your worldly possessions and eat only what you grow. Instead, make small changes so you have a better chance of making them stick. Stop using credit cards, for example. Shop at a farmer’s market for what you need that day instead of stocking up on 25 bags of food at your favorite warehouse club store. When you make incremental changes, you don’t have to worry about changing your entire life and the frugality will seem more natural as you grow accustomed to each small change.
• Keep it simple. Living on a budget should not be complicated, because if it’s complicated, you’re going to find a lot of excuses not to follow your plan for frugal living. Keep cash in your wallet instead of plastic, and don’t buy anything you do not have actual dollar bills for. If you want to go to the mall, make a pledge to walk there instead of driving. When you cancel your gym membership in the name of frugality, start going with the park with your kids for exercise or run around the local school track. Don’t make frugal living hard on yourself. It can be fun. Visit libraries, go hiking and take advantage of other low cost or free activities in your area.
• Give and receive support. You’ll need to make sure your entire family is on board. Keep everyone motivated, and talk openly about what the greatest challenges are. Your kids might have trouble with peer pressure, and you might too. When all of their friends are hooked up to the latest iPods and your friends are carrying around the hottest handbag, living frugal can seem lame. Go back to the first two tips – remember why you’re doing this and what is really important. Encourage everyone to feel proud of walking to school instead of driving; point out that walkers are healthier. Be careful not to ignore the burdens of frugal living. It can be hard, and you should talk about the tests that it offers.