Frugality is a concept that a lot of us have yet to fully grasp. We have heard of it, read about it and we have probably talked to someone who practices it. But even these exposures have not given us the drive to really implement it in our lives.
That is understandable because we come from a hardcore consumerist society. We are encouraged to spend to the point of exaggeration. We will explain that later and how it contradicts the concepts of frugality. Right now, let us discuss how deeply rooted consumerism is in our society.
According to the latest study done by the Association of Mature American Citizens, even those who are well into their years are not prioritizing their savings. And we are talking about saving for retirement here. The data published on the AMAC.us revealed that those who are in their 50s have less than $50,000 in their savings. Not only that, their survey showed that more than ⅓ of the respondents hardly have $1,000 in their emergency fund. The data indicates that even when things are picking up in our economy, consumer opt to spend instead of save.
This is a habit that should be easy to correct with a frugal lifestyle. If you think about it, frugality is the key to help you increase your savings but one can wonder about its effects in our consumerist economy.
Frugal implications in an economy that rely on spenders
The United States has an economy that is 70% driven by consumer spending. Some, like the article published on FEE.org, will argue that it is not consumer spending that drive the economy. The article mentioned that it is the investment that drives it.
That is true but you have to realize that the new investments are driven by the money that they get from consumers. When a consumer spends, they do it on businesses. These businesses use that money to pay for the salaries of their workers and the other costs that is needed to keep creating new products. If consumers spend more, then companies have more money to invest and develop their business.
You may be wondering, how does that relate to frugal living? Here’s the truth. If consumerism is strongly practiced in our society and it encourages spending, how do you think frugality can affect that? A consumerist society will push consumers to keep on spending. You have advertisements, companies and even the government that will urge consumers to spend even if they do not need it. That is where it is in conflict with frugality. This is a spending lifestyle that will teach consumers to avoid excessive spending.
If you do not understand frugal living, you will think that if everyone practiced a frugal lifestyle, they will drive the economy down. That is how a consumerist society will paint frugality: as a practice that will keep you from spending your money.
But if you truly understand the concept of this lifestyle, you will not really fear for our economy. Here are two misconceptions that you need to remove from your mind when you are confronted with the concept of frugality in the midst of a consumerist society.
Frugality means lesser spending. This is the immediate assumption of consumers. There is some truth to this – but only if you had been overspending in the past. A frugal lifestyle really discourages excessive spending to the point of debt. But if not, then this will not be true for you. What frugal living will do is to help you decide where your money will be placed. It can give you the insight to determine where your money can be best placed so it serves your purpose and financial goals well. Frugality will also help you live within or below your means. That is how you can hope to become a saver instead of a spender.
Frugality will keep your money from being involved in the economy. Even if you decide to put your money in investments or your savings account, you will still be placing that money somewhere in the economy. Unless you decide to put your money under your mattress, this statement will not apply to you. But if not, your money will still be involved in the greater economic picture of the country.
You see, frugality in action will have an impact in the economy but it will not necessarily be bad. You should not fear that it will bring down consumer spending. It will not. The only difference this time is you will have a smarter consumer group who knows where they want their money to go.
Frugal living best practices
If you want to practice frugality, you need to make sure that you understand perfectly what it is all about. It is not about depriving yourself of the finer things in life. It is actually more of removing those that you do not need so you can free up some money to spend on what you want. That is how you enjoy your life without really going beyond your budget.
In Wikipedia.org, frugality is defined as being sparing and prudent. It is also defined as choosing to be economical when using resources. People who practice this type of lifestyle are those that are not extravagant in their spending nor are they lavish. They do not waste their resources and find ways to make sure that every little thing is used up.
That being said, here are some of the few frugal living tips that you may want to look into so you can check if this is a lifestyle that you can live.
Being frugal means being creative. By creative we do not really mean artistic. It is more of being resourceful so that you can find ways to meet your needs without ending up in debt. It is when you use things for a purpose other than its original intention. For instance, using a plastic bottle as a plant holder. Or dismantling an old and broken table so you can use it as shelves. This is how you maximize your resources well.
Being frugal means doing your research to find the most economical option. There is always an option for a cheaper way to enjoy what you used to. Look for bargains, scout for discounts – all of these can be sourced easily thanks to the Internet. Use this to save on your usual expenses.
Being frugal means stretching your capabilities. If you cannot do something, find out if you can learn how to do it first. That is how frugality will help you stretch your capabilities. It will prompt you to learn instead of hiring someone else to do it for you.
Being frugal means taking advantage of what is free around you. Coupons are usually free in the Sunday newspaper. You can buy the paper, read the news and clip coupons too. These will allow you to get discounts on the things that you usually purchase in the store. For your exercise routine, you may want to use the park or any available equipment in your community center. These are paid for by your taxes so you may want to utilize them.
Being frugal means using your networks. If there is something that you cannot do but a friend of yours can, why not tap into their skill and return the favor with another favor. If you know how to cook, you can probably cook for them in exchange for some carpentry or electrical skill. Trading skills and services is a great way for you to get things done for free.
The whole point of frugality is to put your money where you feel it deserves to go. You will try to save where you can so that you have more than enough for the expenses that you really want to make. That is how you can spend your money wisely so you do not spend beyond your means.