Frugality is more than just a way to save money, it is a way for those who are looking for a way to return to a simpler time and a simpler way of living to adjust their lives in such a way that they understand who they really are, and what is really important. While that may all sound very idealistic and a lot like something left over from the 1970s the Western way of life is a very busy one, and we can too easily be swept up in acquiring things and outdoing others, forgetting that it is not the role of our possessions to make us happy – it is up to us.
If you’re wondering about the more tangible benefits of being frugal, consider whether you could benefit from any of these five aspects, which are some of the best things about frugality.
1 – Living within your means
How often do you go to bed with bills and other obligations on your mind? How often do you wish you could go to a job you enjoy, not one you have to go to in order to pay your bills?
When you live a frugal lifestyle you have discarded all of the obligations which were cluttering up your life, and you are left with financial security. This is because you are now more financially responsible, having realising that you don’t need a horde of expensive material possessions to be happy.
When you are not living your life on credit, you are now in the habit of living within your means, spending your own money, and spending less than you earn. Imagine the benefits that would bring to your night-time ritual.
2 – Lower environmental impact
We are all trying to leave a smaller carbon footprint on the planet, buying fuel efficient cars and bringing our own reusable shopping bags to the supermarket. However, by living a life of frugality you take even bigger steps towards a smaller carbon footprint.
For example, you’ll be driving less and emitting fewer greenhouse gases into the environment. You’ll also be swapping or buying recycled clothing so no new wastage is being created, plus you’re helping your local community. You will be more conscious about your food use and waste, cooking smaller portions and reusing left overs instead of throwing them into landfill. Even when you do throw out food scraps, you are creating compost, helping the environment and saving you on costly soil treatments at the garden centre.
You will also have found ways to reuse many items around the house instead of automatically throwing them away. Reusing jars for storage and old clothes for rags will all reduce the amount of waste you are throwing away, as well as making your household more sustainable and self reliant.
3 – Attitude adjustment
We can’t all afford to travel halfway around the world for spiritual enlightenment from wise old monks. However, you will see changes to your attitude, and your relationship with the world when you live more frugally.
When you strip back your life to the true essentials, you find out what you really need to be happy, to live and to function well. A s a result you appreciate what you have and this attitude of gratitude allows you to see that what you have in a loving family and friends, and food on the table is a lot more than many people have.
This will also make you more generous with your time and your possessions because you know what you don’t need, and you can give it to others. You’ll also find you’re not as stressed because you are not forced to work long hours in a job you hate to fund your consumerism, and you’ll have more time to spend with your family because you’re not all out spending money on activities, you’re at home, spending time on activities as a family.
When you are not stuck in a stressful job you have to have, you can experience the freedom which comes with being able to leave your job at the office, or even leave it all together and pursue something which really excites you.
While this sort of attitude adjustment may seem boring to those who are used to a fast-paced life, it is actually challenging as you find new ways to do things you’ve always automatically paid for, and you learn about and create a new life and lifestyle.
4 – Learning and creating
It is easy to go out and replace an item when it breaks, or pay someone to fix it. However, when you are living frugally, you must learn to fix things yourself, keeping your brain active, and rewarding you with a sense of achievement when you have mastered a new skill. You’re not only learning for yourself, but you can also teach your children how to live a more frugal lifestyle.
You’ll also find you will need to be more creative, finding new uses for items, and new ways to do things. For example you may start making your own birthday and Christmas cards, or even your own soap and detergent.
5 – Living healthy
We all want to feel better and be healthier and that is one of the best things about frugality – it encourages you to live a healthier lifestyle every day. You’ll be eating fewer takeaway meals and more fresh fruit and vegetables. You may give up your car and will start to feel the benefits of walking or riding your bike everywhere.
When you do more for yourself, you’re more active and this could be as simple as walking to the store instead of having items delivered, doing your own yard work, taking your own dog for a walk or washing your own car.
Alban is a personal finance writer at Home Loan Finder, a home loan comparison website.