Most people think that saving money requires sacrifice and self-denial. However, when I became frugal, I felt like my life got more abundant, not less. And I’ve heard many frugal people express the same sentiment. How can your life feel more full and abundant when you’re spending less money than ever? The answer is gratitude!
Adopting a frugal mindset causes you to be more intentional with your money and prioritize what really matters to you. When you only have room in your budget for a few non-necessities, you appreciate them more. If you get a Starbucks coffee every day, it just becomes part of your normal routine. But when you only allow yourself to enjoy a fancy mocha latte once a month, you savor it so much more.
Being Frugal Helps You Separate Wants From Needs
Being frugal helps you reset your expectations and get off the hedonic treadmill for good. These days, many Americans think luxuries are necessities. For example, 53% of consumers say that ordering takeout is an essential part of their lifestyle. We can become so accustomed to including luxuries in our daily routines that we view them as necessities and forget what our real needs are.
All we really need is a warm place to sleep, water to drink, and food in our bellies. We can live without all the other trappings of modern life, such as Uber Eats and streaming services. But the wonderful thing is that even a frugal budget includes many of these conveniences that we take for granted.
Frugal People Aren’t Deprived
Most frugal people still have an internet connection, a Netflix account, a cell phone, and access to a grocery store with all kinds of exotic food from all over the world. Many thrifty folks also have a car that can take them anywhere they want. In this day and age, even people who are trying to save money are living a lifestyle medieval kings could only dream of!
It’s so easy to take all of our modern conveniences for granted because most people around us have them. But there are millions upon millions of people in other parts of the world who don’t have the elevated lifestyle we enjoy in the West. Remembering how lucky we are can help put things in perspective.
If you’re living frugally to achieve your financial goals, you might have to say no to certain things sometimes, like grabbing brunch with friends. However, that doesn’t make simple living restrictive. Frugal folks still have access to so many viable alternatives to money-draining habits.
Waste Not, Want Not
Instead of eating out with friends, you can host a board game night and potluck at home. If seeing a movie at the theater isn’t in your budget, you can watch a free movie on YouTube.
When you’re doing a no-buy and want something to read, you can head to the library and pick out a stack of books for free. You can even cross items off your wishlist without breaking the bank by perusing the clearance rack, visiting the thrift store, browsing your local no-buy group, or even picking up items left on the curb.
There’s a lot of waste in our society because people are always discarding what they have and getting newer, better versions. As the old saying goes, waste not, want not. If you’re willing to wear gently worn clothes, drive a used car, and own an “outdated” cell phone that still works just fine, you’ll save a lot of money in the long run.
So, is frugality restrictive? In my opinion, frugality isn’t restrictive, it’s freeing! Realizing you can live without the luxuries that many people view as necessities allows you to cut down your budget significantly, without sacrificing quality of life. When you get good at being thrifty, you can find cheaper ways to live a similar lifestyle to the one you’re used to, such as shopping at the thrift store. Getting more bang for your buck is super satisfying and allows you to allocate so much more money toward your financial goals.
Plus, I’ve learned that saying “no” to myself sometimes is actually good for me, especially in the context of our overabundant, highly convenient world. Not being able to get the new shiny thing I want helps me focus on the things I already have and appreciate them more.
Saying “no” also helps me separate wants from needs and makes me realize I already have everything I need and then some. This sense of gratitude allows me to be happy and content with my frugal lifestyle even though I don’t have the biggest house or fanciest toys.
Appreciating what I have also makes it easy to resist the constant pressure to upgrade belongings and buy the newest, shiniest versions. I’m genuinely satisfied with my thrift store finds, clearance deals, and free picnics in the park, so my frugal lifestyle doesn’t feel restrictive in the least!
Do you think living a frugal lifestyle is restrictive? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Vicky Monroe is a freelance personal finance and lifestyle writer. When she’s not busy writing about her favorite money saving hacks or tinkering with her budget spreadsheets, she likes to travel, garden, and cook healthy vegetarian meals.