Busted! 6 Myths about Frugal Living
Are you living more frugally? If not, what is stopping you? Perhaps you have a negative view of frugality – for example, when you hear the word “frugal” do you think of the negative synonyms like stingy, cheap, or tight?
As someone who tries to live a more frugal life, I often encounter the negative stereotypes around frugality, so here are 6 assumptions that I regularly hear, and why these are really myths…
1. To live frugally, I’ll have to give up everything I like and stop having fun
Actually, the opposite can be true. Living frugally means that you pay more attention to how you spend your time and money, so that you avoid squandering them on items/activities that have no value to you. By reducing or eliminating these unnecessary drains on your resources, you’ll have more time and money to spend on what truly brings you joy and happiness.
2. If I don’t have a big house, or expensive car, or designer clothes, I won’t know if I am successful.
Let’s stop for a minute and consider what success actually means to you. Imagine that you have died and before passing onto the afterlife you have the opportunity to read your obituary. Do you want it to say something like: “Jane will be remembered for driving a Tesla Model X and only wearing Chanel suits” or “John lived for the last twenty years in the multi-million-dollar house by the golf course”? Side note: When people think that success is tied to these types of goals, it is often not about telling themselves that they are successful, but more so convincing others. Identifying, and releasing yourself from the trap of others’ definitions of success can be tremendously empowering.
So what do you really want to be remembered for? What kind of person do you want people to see when they look at you? Whatever it is, this will give you a truer idea of what success means to you, so you can develop your own way to measure your achievements instead of the clichéd expectations of society.
Need more help with deciding what success means to you? Check out these 2 TED talks to get you thinking – they’ll take you less than 10 minutes (and could change your life)!
3. Frugal people are cheap and stingy
If you could buy something that you need at a lower cost to you, would you do it? Of course you would, that would be common sense. But being frugal is more than just going for the lowest price on everything, it includes:
Knowing what you really need versus what you want, so you know when to spend the money.
Taking the time to consider what you’re buying so you get the maximum benefit.
Understanding that quality is important and that sometimes spending more also gets you more.
4. I don’t have the time to live more frugally
We all know that time is a precious and limited commodity and that we should be more conscious about how we spend it. I’ve already talked about the value of taking the time to unwind, but it’s also important to be in control of our lives and time. Research shows that having a strong sense of control over your life can improve your health and longevity. In other words, by taking the time and choosing to do things you want, like live more frugally, you may actually get more time in the long run!
I know that it can be a challenge to find time, even when you know it will benefit you, so here’s my advice for this one: start small. For example, just change one habit or, if you need to spend some time on your new frugal routine, begin with just 5-10 minutes. Then increase the commitment/effort slowly over time when you can. Or challenge yourself to make a change for 30 days, like Matt Cutts talks about in his TED talk.
Most of all, be kind to yourself and remember: any positive change, however small, is better than nothing!
5. If I live more frugally, I will have to stop shopping
It’s true that if you live a more frugal lifestyle you may shop less, but it won’t mean that you’ll never shop again (unless you deliberately want to reduce your shopping like Cait Flanders and not shop for a whole year!).
Instead, you’ll be more conscious about what you buy and use your money (and time) in ways that truly fulfill you.
6. I want to be more frugal, but I can’t because my family / spouse / friends are against it.
If you are struggling with this, then I recommend three possible actions:
Start living frugally in areas of your life that you control and that don’t impact others.
Talk to your family / spouse / friends to understand why they are against frugal living. Perhaps you can find some common ground or maybe they believe some of the frugal myths listed above? Either way, it will be worthwhile for everyone to share their views and increase their understanding.
Share your goals and objectives with them so that they understand what you are trying to achieve with your frugal changes – e.g. saving for a vacation, or finding more time for a passion. When they understand your motives they might even be able to help you out.
If you have any other frugal myths that you would like “busted” then please share them in the comments below. And if you are interested in understanding more about living with “frugalitude”, then check out What in the world is Frugalitude? and The Frugalitude Manifesto.