How to Be Frugal and Really Enjoy Life
Frugalism – you can’t just strike up a conversation about it with your work colleagues. It’s just not cool. We are not in Victorian England where being thrifty was the done thing. Nowadays, who wants to talk about eating simple meals at home, saving large percentages of your income instead of blowing it on a new watch, or enjoying some free activities at the weekend instead of buying tickets to the game? If you’re struggling a bit with the concept, I’d like to introduce you to some important things which will benefit your life and help you achieve your goals – especially if you’d love to become financially free, but just can’t seem to spare any cash at the end of every month. I will show you how what you focus on is critical to achieving financial freedom, but focusing on being frugal is not the way to become frugal.
What’s Behind the Motivation to Be Frugal? How Can You Still Enjoy a Frugal Life?
Amidst the many millions of consumerist people out there, we often come across a few frugal friends who are bucking the ‘blow all my pay packet every month’ trend. They don’t buy a new car every few years (on finance) and they don’t go on expensive holidays. They cook at home and only replace things when they’ve really really worn out and cannot be repaired. What motivates these guys to live so differently to the masses? What motivates them to actually bother saving a large percentage of their income, and defer their gratification to the future on a consistent basis?
Do you wish you could be like these guys? More productive, healthier, and wealthier? Have you tried diaries, planners, productivity apps on your phone, only to no avail? Even though you had some goals, you never seemed able to get the right strategy to achieve them?
Many of us have been reading about Jason’s journey to financial freedom for months, or even years. What keeps us coming back, even if we cannot seem to achieve things in like manner? Well, he’s a good writer and he posts regularly. He posts about subjects we’re interested in – dividend growth investing and how his frugal life and wise investments are changing his life for the better. He is motivated and committed to pursue his vision, and that’s attractive. He doesn’t care that his carpet is wearing thin and he didn’t blow vast sums on his wedding – unlike many people, who might even go into debt for their wedding (along with that new car and expensive honeymoon). Jason doesn’t care about the consumerist masses’ spending habits because he is focused on the vision of his future self – a financially free Jason Fieber sometime in the not-too-distant future.
Do You Have a Vision for Your Life?
When you focus on something greater than your current situation, it becomes magnified in your life. This can be negative or positive. For example, you might have a large debt. You focus on it because it feels like a weight around your neck, dragging you down every time you get paid. You see it constantly and it bothers you – even when you’re trying not to think about it. On the other hand, perhaps you’re expecting a new baby. You focus on this joyous new arrival and plan accordingly. You paint the spare room with a Noah’s Ark theme, and buy cute baby clothes and furniture. The impending arrival gets more and more exciting – essentially, it becomes magnified in your life.
So maybe you have neither of these types of things going on, but you wouldn’t mind becoming financially free in the future. Unfortunately, things keep getting in your way and you can’t seem to get that right strategy nailed. You end up spending pretty much all your wages every time you get paid. Well, we know from Jason’s journey that it is possible, even after taking a sizeable pay cut by leaving his car dealership job. So you don’t have to earn megabucks to get started. But there is one key thing that is critical to your journey, and this is to have a vision of your future self.
What will you look like in ten years? What will your investment account total be? How much money will your stocks be throwing off in dividends every year? What will you do with your time once you’ve become financially free? These are the things you need to think about first.
You may notice that I’ve not suggested you come up with a strategy to achieve these things, strategy comes later. A clear vision of your future self is the most important first step in achieving what you desire. Write down your answers to those questions above. Pablo Picasso once said: ‘If you can imagine it, it’s real’. This is scientifically true – apparently, your brain can react to imagined things in exactly the same way as they would in reality. For example, focusing your imagination on a beach with the waves rolling gently in will relax you – because your brain is powerful enough to create that vision and experience its effects, even though you’re probably sitting in the office at work, sneakily reading this blog post instead of working on that spreadsheet due Friday.
Finding Joy in the Simple Things – Frugality is Enjoyable When You Have a Strong Vision
Once you have a vision for your life, write it down and stick it somewhere you will see it every day – maybe next to the bathroom mirror, or on your nightstand. The vision will take hold of you and become magnified. Many things that once may have seemed important will now seem trivial. You will start to find joy in much more simple things, because you will feel pulled towards this future vision of yourself and you will start to spontaneously think of ways to achieve it. In the context of living frugally, this vision of yourself will make you think twice about buying that pack of ground beef, when the one next to it is 50c cheaper per pound. You’ll probably start cooking at home a lot more instead of eating out, and you’ll definitely get the crockpot out from the back of the garage. You’ll start appreciating simple, home-cooked meals because they are cheaper than eating out, probably healthier, and this feeds into the vision of a future, wealthier, healthier you.
You will naturally start appreciating all these little things more, because you won’t be concerned about things that don’t feed into your vision. Spending time with your loved ones, taking a nice walk in the peace and quiet, seeing the sunset – all these types of things will make you calmer and less stressed, and therefore healthier. They’ll also help your bank balance because they’re free, and this can be put towards dividend growth stocks, thus making you wealthier.
Jason worked like a dog at the dealership, but when he quit, his vision didn’t die, even though leaving the job meant taking a pretty hefty pay cut. To some people, this would ruin their plans. But the future you will still be waiting for you, calling you to keep going and pursue your dreams of financial freedom – if you focus on this vision of your future self every day. First, get your vision down on paper, then look at it every day. Allow it to develop and become magnified in your mind and then watch what happens! Frugalism will become second nature and enjoyment of life will increase at the same time.
I welcome your comments below – have you experienced the power of vision in your life?