Let us start the article with a home-made quote “Frugal living, smart thinking”. Why this quote? This is to clarify that frugal living has got nothing to do with cutting down on things you love the most or depriving yourself of the weekend pampering you do or so. Now that you have decided to live the frugal way or at least give it a shot, it is very important to understand what it actually means.
You surf the internet to look for the meaning of the word ‘Frugal’, there are plenty of definitions but the one which fits our purpose best is “Costing Little”.
Basically, frugal living is all about living smartly. It is about living on and saving from the cash you actually have and not on EMIs or loans. It is about affording a thing under your budget. Hence, the concept of smart thinking comes into the picture. Let us do it with an example; I am extremely fond of perfumes but there are a lot of them (actually most of them) which cost a fortune. Now that I am up for a frugal living, does that mean I will have to drop-off using my choicest perfumes or in the worst-case using perfumes at all? No, frugal living means getting things you love at concessional prices. What if the same perfume comes 1000 bucks cheaper in the season-end sale? What is wrong about waiting for it? For some of us, 1000 bucks would not make much difference but trust me, every penny counts when you actually fall short of it. Moral of the story is, frugal living implies towards smarter and better money management.
Managing money, the frugal way
This money management technique gives you a fair idea about the reality of your funds and how much can you afford to spend. This tells you what you have in your savings account, what goes towards your fixed monthly expenses, any debt that you owe and how much you need to save for your future, like any other budget. But what a frugal budget will tell you more is where you can’t spend or what you can’t afford. This will give you an idea regarding what actually you can go for, be it a pair of new jeans or a house, your frugal budget will show you the mirror. The biggest advantage of working on a frugal budget is that it stays synced with your financial goals, your savings, debts, expenses, and investments. Hence, you are the in-charge of your money and know how to grow it.
Spending money, the frugal way
If put in the simplest of words this means looking out for every possible way you can get a thing cheap or for lesser money. Spending money the frugal way is stretching the limits of your money and your own self to get the best deal. Yes, it requires more effort but once you realize the satisfaction and pleasure it gives to get a thing at a low cost than the actual market price, you won’t mind the effort. Look out for export markets, season-end sales, clearance stocks, and so many other options until you find what you want and get it for a lucrative price.
Look for cheapest days at your grocery stores, stockpile items which you know you will definitely need if you are getting them at an offer price.
This not only means spending every time you find things being sold cheap, but it also demands you to think and shop. It is not obligatory to shop at every sale or exhibition you come across or buying things just because they are cheap.
Check two things before you buy:
- Do you actually need it?
- can you afford it (even if it is cheap)?
If the answer to both the questions is yes, then go for it, otherwise drop it.
Making money, the frugal way
Now here I do not mean look for cheap options to make money rather look at your skills and talents. They are the most ingenious ways of making more money. And it is not just extraordinary skill that you may possess but it is about being observant and resourceful as well. Have you ever wondered the pile of plastic grocery bags isn’t just waste, they can be recycled or reused as trash bags or the online order cartons that you most of the times throw away are excellent for storage? It is all about thinking outside the box. It is about using and reusing things, making maximum out of available resources and replacing only when they have actually been exhausted. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It is the Indian way of living. Let us take the example of milk. You boil your daily milk, use it for drinking and making desserts, the cream (malai) on top of the liquid milk is taken out and blended to make butter, this butter is then heated till the stage it becomes transparent and turns into ghee (clarified butter). A single ingredient goes through 5 stages with an exclusive product at every single stage, now that is one frugal way of using Milk.
Why choose frugal way?
Frugal living is a mechanism which allows you to experience, thrive and flourish under situation you never could have thought about. It makes you look at possibilities and opportunities which otherwise would have been left unseen due to abundance. It makes you strong, independent and self-reliant.
A few rupees saved today can make a huge impact tomorrow when you would actually need them and would not have the strength to work so hard. It can help you retire early, save for your child’s marriage or education, save for your house, or just be your rainy-day savior. Invest your savings to grow your wealth. Whatever use you may find of the saved money but the frugal living will make sure you never fall short of them when you need them, de facto!