There’s an art to frugal living. It’s difficult, takes a little bit more effort than living normally, but the money saving payoffs are endless. Unfortunately, since the recession, some people have been taking frugal living too far. They’re focusing too hard on money saving, and not considering quality of life or the quality of what they’re buying. For the sake of this blogpost, I’m going to say instead of frugal living, this is ‘cheap living’.
I have a friend who’s become almost addicted to cheap living. They refuse to ever put the heating on because it costs so much, but I just can’t understand this. If you don’t put your heating on for at least a couple of hours every so often in the winter, you have a higher chance of your pipes freezing and potentially bursting. Not only that, you could get sick from the cold or get mould throughout your home. Is that all really worth saving a few pennies? No, because in the long run you’ll be spending more PLUS your quality of life is getting worse.
Frugal living is what most of us really want to be doing. We want to be getting the most for our money, we don’t want to overspend on anything, and we don’t want to be throwing our money away on things that don’t really matter. So in this instance, someone who lives frugally as opposed to cheaply would put the heating on every so often (but not excessively), or even spend their money buying a small, cheaper to run, electric heater.
- 1 How Frugal Living Should Really Be Done
- 2 SEE MORE: 7 Money Saving Tips You Shouldn’t Be Using >>
Should You Ever Live In Bad Conditions Just To Save A Few Pennies?
Some people who follow cheap living really put their money first and themselves second. No heating in the winter is just one example, but would you ever consider eating badly just to get cheap food? Or even ignoring your own health? Honestly, some people don’t buy medicine just to save some money, and that’s just crazy.
You must’ve already read our 23 ridiculous money saving tips – and do you know what’s the most ridiculous thing about them? That people actually use some of them. They stemmed from somewhere, and that somewhere was someone trying them out and thinking ‘oh yeah, this is saving me some money so it’s got to be good!’
If you really want to save some money, frugal living doesn’t have to make you suffer. What you should do is consider more than just your money. Consider your overall quality of life – Your happiness, time, money, family, as well as your bank balance.
How Frugal Living Should Really Be Done
Maria from The Money Principle mentions people advising her to cut her own hair when she needed to save some money. This is a pretty common money saving tip, along with making your own food, clothes, gifts for people etc etc. But this is difficult when you don’t have a skill for any of these things. That’s why there are professionals out there who study and practice at their craft and we pay them; because we can’t all be skilled at everything.
When I wanted to save some money at university, I actually did take one of these tips on board and I started cutting in my own fringe. Not the rest of my hair, just the fringe, to save the £5 every 2 weeks I was spending on a trim.
At first I was terrible at it, but now I feel like I’m a pro (although my friends would probably argue that it often looks wonky!). This worked for me, but I’d never skip getting the rest of my hair cut by a professional just to save on the cash. It’d never look right. Although it’d save me money, it’d make me self-conscious every time I left the house and before I had the job I have now, I would’ve worried it’d effect my employment chances.
So how should you do frugal living? Here are some pointers:
1/ Cut Simple Costs
By this I mean, look at your insurance policies, your internet provider, your electric and gas providers and use some price comparison sites. See if you could get a cheaper deal switching to any others. But do not compromise. If you’re used to fast internet with no cap on data, find another deal that provides you with the same thing. There’s no point going for the cheapest one out there only to struggle with the limited features it gives you later on.
Most people just let their insurance policies, and gas and electric companies, automatically renew each year without shopping around. Even if you only saved £50 or £60 a year (although you’ll likely save much more than that!) by taking the time to see if there are any cheaper options out there, it would be worth it.
I think we should all start considering our time as money too. I was recently told that I’m crazy for ordering my shopping online and paying for it to be delivered occasionally. Why would I waste money on getting my shopping delivered when I could just go to the shop and take it home for free? Well that’s because I save so much time shopping online rather than going to the shop that I class this as a necessary expense for me.
In this way, some things you could cut out, but if you think they save you time then consider how much you’re paid hourly and how much time it will save you. If it saves you a significant amount of time for you to get other things done, then it could be worth the money to you and shouldn’t feel guilty for continuing to pay it.
2/ Keep Your Little Luxuries
There’s a reason why I wrote about money saving blogs ruining your life; one of them is people who promote cheap living insisting you should give up everything from your morning coffee to your Christmas decorations to save a few pounds.
What’s the point in earning money if you can never spend it?
What’s the point in working for your money if you only use it for the basic roof above your head and cheap food on your plate? You’re allowed to splash your cash – but only on the things that are important to you.
Take a look at what you spend money on each month, and decide whether you’d be okay cutting back on anything. If you think you’d really miss your morning coffee, keep it. You could even compromise and cut it back to 3 a week instead of 5, if you really felt guilty about it. Obviously you can’t spend money on everything you want, but it’s only fair to keep a few of the important luxuries to give you little things to look forward to.
Personally I keep back a certain amount each month I know I can spend on whatever I like. This is after all bills are paid, savings are put away and the food is accounted for. Then I know I can spend without feeling guilt about the money I’m using. And I always make sure I have a bit spare when I pass a Costa or Starbucks!
3/ Remember To Always Look For Value For Money – Not Cheap
When you’re out shopping, get out of the habit of looking for the cheapest item and into the habit of the one that gives you the most for your money. Don’t buy a cheap pair of shoes you’ll need to replace in a week when you could buy a slightly more expensive pair that’ll last you the whole year.
This value doesn’t need to be in terms of how much you get for your money though, you can think of it in terms of happiness for the money. I bought a game the other day that cost me £15 with zero re-playability. I bought it solely to play through the story, and that was it. Some people would say £15 spent and 7 hours played is terrible value for money – but because I enjoyed it and I’d been waiting for it for ages, I’d say it was great value for money for me.
What I look for is the maximum value, whatever that value is to me, from minimum cost.
4/ Stop Comparing Yourself To Others
If you feel like people would judge you for how you spend your money because you don’t save quite like they do, just back away from your computer. You are different to everyone else trying out frugal living, and you’ll have your own way of doing it. You should never envy people who cut every corner to get the cheapest thing, but neither should they envy you and your warm showers (because, yes, you like to spend money on heating thank you very much, you’re not that frugal).
We’re all different, and if you decide to spend your money on one thing and another person decides not to, that’s your business and no one elses. It’s not something to feel guilty for. Some people actually enjoy only ever buying the cheapest thing, or spending all their free time entering competitions online to try to win a bit of extra money. Although I think both of those things are pointless, I won’t judge you if that’s what you decide to do. I just won’t be doing it myself any time soon.
5/ Use Sites That Give You More For Your Money
If you buy anything online, remember to use a price comparison site.