Transitioning Into a Frugal Life
There is no getting around the fact that living frugally takes effort. Nothing in the world is more difficult at first than changing your habits, even if the change is drastically for the better, and many attempts to better yourself will fall flat long before the benefits of any changes come into play. There are hundreds of small changes that can save a penny here or there, but making sure the changes stick is the real task at hand. Here are a few pointers that can help ease your transition from a lifestyle of habit into one that wont break the bank at the end of the quarter.
Rewarding Yourself is Key
Most of the bad habits you’ve acquired through life served at one point as their own reward: buying lunch at work saved time, buying a sharp outfit served to impress, and buying a snack here or there takes care of a passing hunger. These habits get reinforced over and over again, to the point that changing your habits feels like punishment. It’s a vicious cycle that locks you into a pattern of less-than-frugal activity, and its one that you can only notice if you go looking for it. You’re fighting against psychology if you’re trying to force yourself to kick these habits, and psychology will fight you right back. Instead of fighting an uphill battle, you can try to positively reinforce good habits through self reward, and you can do it without spending any extra money.
So What Sort of Rewards are Free?
It all depends on you and those around you. Though no one likes to admit it, nothing is more motivating than seeing others satisfied with your success. Get your family or friends involved, and celebrate your first day, week or month of kicking an expensive habit. Do something you really enjoy every time you hit a milestone, and get others involved to share in your elation. Alternatively, do something for yourself like take a stroll on the beach, or a relaxing bath. Celebrate how you see fit, and use your imagination to avoid activities that cost you money. Don’t throw a big party with cake and beer every week, but feel free to watch a few old movies and celebrate with resources on hand. If you can, reward yourself with a day off where you do nothing but your favorite tasks.
And Remember it Doesn’t Have to be Free
Though the ultimate objective is to live frugally, don’t be afraid to splurge on the rare occasion. Take a small percentage of the savings from your new habits and spend it on something just for you, be it a party or a much desired item from a fancy store. Reward yourself with the bounty of your efforts, and make your effort meaningful to you. Frugal living does not mean a life of total self denial. Just be sure to keep in mind that it’s only by not spending that you have a reason to celebrate.