Are you wondering if it’s possible to be frugal and happy at the same time?
Well, if you are new to the frugal lifestyle, I can understand why it might seem a little less-than-fun. But, here at Be The Budget, we not only know it is possible, we have found that frugal living — when done correctly — actually leads to happiness, joy and contentment.
So, whether you are trying to become more frugal, or you are just struggling to find joy in your frugal lifestyle, this post is for you. What follows are 7 tips to help you enjoy frugal living.
Let’s jump in!
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1. Make Vacations A Financial Priority
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when you decide to adopt a frugal lifestyle, is to neglect vacations. Sure, if you are trying to get out of debt or achieve a specific goal by being frugal, it is acceptable to push pause on vacations for a couple years. But much more than that, and I can almost guarantee you will burn out.
Everyone needs to unplug from time to time and relax. I mean, what’s the point of living frugally if you are always stressed, and never take time to enjoy yourself?
Even just a week away each year can provide you with the reboot and relaxation you need in order to stay the course on your frugal journey.
Seriously, would you rather make saving for an annual vacation a financial priority, or burn out after two years and revert to a lifestyle of living beyond your means?
After all, the entire point of living a frugal lifestyle is to place emphasis on the things in your life that really matter. So, every time you get a paycheck, set aside a portion of your savings for vacations. This little action will help keep you motivated, and remind you why you live a frugal lifestyle in the first place.
Just be sure to pay cash for every vacation you take.
2. Allow Yourself Some Fun Money
Along the same lines of saving for a vacation, if you want to maintain your frugal lifestyle, you need to allow yourself to have some fun each month. That’s why I recommend you designate a small portion of every paycheck for fun and recreation.
Do you like going to sporting events? Use your fun money to buy a ticket.
Do you enjoy going out to dinner and reconnecting with your spouse a few times each month? Well, use your fun money to do so.
Do you like to spend money on clothes and shoes? Allow yourself enough fun money to add a few new — reasonably priced — items to your closet each month.
Frugality does not have to be boring. You just need to allow yourself some room for fun.
The added benefit of fun money is that you can spend it guilt-free. For example, my wife loves to buy shoes. So, if she and I decide to set our monthly fun money at $100 each, she can buy as many pairs of shoes as $100 affords. And she can do so completely free of guilt. Plus, seeing how living a frugal lifestyle has honed her ability to find good deals, she could easily turn that money into two or three pairs of shoes each month.
I guess we better start saving for a closet renovation.
3. Start Playing Offense
One of the coolest things about frugal living, is that the more you commit to it, the more satisfying it becomes.
So, if you are feeling a little less-than-enthusiastic about pinching pennies, or your frugal lifestyle is getting a little boring, then you should challenge yourself to stretch your money further than ever before.
I like to think of it as playing financial offense. And seriously, it works!
For example, if your normal weekly food budget for your family is $200, then challenge yourself to cut that budget in half for an entire month. If you accomplish it, not only will you be able to put an extra $400 into savings, but it will be another check in the win-column, which will fuel you to keep going.
I’ll be honest, I don’t like feeling like I’m playing defense all the time. Sure, defense may win championships, but if you don’t have any goal-scorers, then you will never win a single game. And when it comes to personal finance, I much prefer the ‘attack’ mentality, which is why this is one of my favorite strategies in all of personal finance.
Remember, you get to choose whether frugality is just a restriction on your life, or part of your financial attack plan. I prefer the latter. Honestly, I think it’s just more fun.
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4. Eliminate Your Debt Burden
One of the original reasons my wife and I adopted a frugal lifestyle, was to pay off all our debt. And since doing so, our financial life has become significantly easier, and more enjoyable.
So, if you really want to enjoy the benefits of frugal living, I recommend you pay off every single penny of debt you owe.
Truthfully, when I was in debt, I didn’t realize how big of a burden it was in my life. Not only was it a pain in the butt to make every payment, but honestly, It took the fun out of getting a paycheck. I mean, when you work hard all month to get paid, and then the first thing you do with your shiny new paycheck, is give a bunch of other people your money, it gets to be a little defeating.
That’s why I firmly believe that if you are going to be frugal, you should place a high priority on getting — and staying — out of debt. Life is so much more enjoyable when you don’t have to make any debt payments.
If you want to be frugal and happy, get rid of your debt.
Are you trying to get out of debt? Be sure to try our Free Debt Snowball Calculator to estimate how long it will take you to pay off your debt using the Snowball Method.
5. Flex Your D.I.Y. Muscles
These days, when people need something fixed, improved, built, or renovated, they are more likely to call somebody than to attempt it on their own. And honestly, it hurts my soul. Can someone please tell me what happened to the idea of figuring out why something is broken and fixing it yourself?
Well, let’s bring that back!
For example, instead of paying to get your house repainted by a professional, go get some paint rollers and drop-cloths from Home Depot and get to paintin’. It might not be as convenient as paying a painter, but the process is part of the fun.
If you have some things that need fixing around the house, look up some videos on YouTube, and learn how to fix them yourself. This comes with the added bonus of learning a new, valuable skill.
Flexing your D.I.Y. muscles is a great way to find enjoyment in frugality. Beyond that, it can get kind of addicting!
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6. Be Creative
Creativity is one of the key pillars of a frugal and happy lifestyle. And the more outside the box you think, the more fun you will have.
For example, when my wife and I moved into our first apartment, we had one wall-hanging, and almost no decorations that would make our house feel like a home. However, we also didn’t want to spend a ton of money for things that would just hang from a nail on the wall.
So, my wife decided to get creative, and paint a couple things herself on some old canvases she had laying around. Then, she started searching for great picture frame and photo printing coupons so that we could fill our walls with good memories.
After all was said and done, we spent less than $50 to completely decorate our apartment, and it’s all thanks to her creativity. Plus, at least for me, everything that’s hanging on our wall is much more meaningful, because it reminds me of the creativity and hard work she put into all of it.
7. Increase your income
One of the best parts of frugal living is that it amplifies your ability to make money go further. So, when you increase your income, it’s really exciting.
You see, when non-frugal people make more money, they tend to increase their spending relative to their higher income. But as a frugal person, if you are comfortable living on less, making more money just increases the amount you can put toward saving and investing. And that dramatically speeds up your timeline to reaching long-term financial goals.
So, if you want to really enjoy the benefits of your frugal lifestyle, I recommend placing a high priority on increasing your income. Whether that means getting a second job or starting a side hustle, get out there and make money. It is so much fun to increase your income when your expenses are low, and it’s hard not to have fun when you are watching your net worth grow faster than ever!
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Frugal And Happy: Final Thoughts
On the surface, frugality might not seem like the most exciting lifestyle. But, if you utilize the tips in this article, I think you will find that frugal and happy go hand-in-hand.
Do you enjoy frugal living? What makes it fun for you, and what advice would you give to somebody struggling to enjoy their frugal lifestyle? Be sure to comment below.
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