Concepts in Frugality: Rethink Your Thinking

by Kelly · 9 comments

in Concepts in Frugality,Series

Today’s post is part of an occasional series called ‘Concepts in Frugality’.

two_eggsYou don’t ‘have to’ do anything.

Too often we fall into the trap of thinking that we have to buy a certain brand, go to a certain store, send our kids to a certain activity. “I have to buy this brand of facial cleanser,” you might say to yourself. “Otherwise my skin breaks out.” Or maybe “I have to use this kind of laundry detergent– I don’t like the way the other one smells.”

I do it all the time- I rely on old habits, on old patterns, firmly entrenched ways of thinking in making my buying decisions.

But what decisions would you make, if you rethought your thinking? If you were forced to act another way, would it change your mind and your patterns?

I have a friend who was convinced that she could not lower her monthly grocery budget below a certain point. When she started only using cash to pay for groceries however, she managed to spend a third less than the months before.

I thought I had to keep the heat at a certain temperature, or my kids wouldn’t sleep. Turns out I was wrong. I thought I had to buy a brand name coffee, or we wouldn’t like the taste. Turns out I was wrong. I thought I had to have a two hour contract on my cell phone, or I wouldn’t have enough minutes. Turns out I was wrong.

Rethinking my habits and my convictions, even those I was convinced I couldn’t change, was a useful exercise for me. I’m discovering why I do things. Some of the reasons are frugal worthy… others, not so much. But I don’t have to do anything- I make the frugal (or almost frugal) choices I make because I choose to make them.

What things do you do because you have to? And what do you do because you want to?


1 Nicki at Domestic Cents January 28, 2009

You’re right on with this. I’ve been finding out some of the same things and it has really saved me. It’s nice to be freed of being super particular. It actually allows for a lot more flexibility in my life.

Nicki at Domestic Cents´s last blog post..Do You Garden? Do You Can?

2 Dana @ Letters to El January 28, 2009

I also lowered my grocery budget by going cash only. I still have a long way to go, however!

<abbr>Dana @ Letters to Elijah´s last blog post..What's for Dinner?</abbr>

3 Emma @ January 28, 2009

Personally, I always have a reasonable explanation for everything I do and there is always logic to it – even if I can't remember why I do it that way. And every time I forget and try to change that way, it is only to regret the change, get angry at myself for not having enough faith in me, remember why I started doing it that way in the first place and go back to that way 🙂

<abbr>Emma @´s last blog post..My miserable failure at brushing my toddler’s teeth</abbr>

4 SlaveToMyLenders January 28, 2009

Your first paragraph gave me a smile — I used a new shower gel rather than my normal soap once in December. The next day I was covered in a rash and couldn't stop scratching. Had to take antihistamines all day. I won't be switching!

On the other hand, I do try to use different brands of most things, particularly the 'store' brands. There are a few things I've tried and decided to go back to the premium brand, but most items are perfectly fine. I used to be very brand loyal, until I figured out how much money I could save by switching: gas and electricity supplier, car insurance, even my mechanic.

5 Annie January 28, 2009

My code for that is, “How do you fold your towels?” Because you can fold them in half, in thirds, roll them up, etc. And usually you fold your towels in the same manner that you had them in your home growing up (how your mother, father, etc. folded them). Then one day you have a roommate or spouse and find them folding towels the “wrong” way . . .but is there really a wrong way? Or are you just folding your towels that why out of habit?

It’s not only great for saving money, it’s a great way to try to shift your thinking when you’re having a disagreement with someone. Is it important, or is it just you fold towels differently?

6 Megan January 28, 2009

I thought I had to have high-end cosmetics and cleansers etc. When I broke out in a huge hormonal, post-miscarriage rash I forked over 4 bucks for a drugstore blemish cream and moisturizer. My skin has never been so smooth! I guess I don’t “have” to buy the high-end stuff. A few other frugal discoveries: I don’t have to buy expensive books, I can go to the library! I don’t have to buy cable, I can read (FREE books)! I love your blog, frugality is new for me but you’re giving me great inspiration!

7 Kristy @ Master Your January 29, 2009

I don't have to do anything, just as you pointed out. I choose to do the things I do.

I choose to go to work – though I've heard people say this is something they HAVE TO do. Well, no it isn't. You may not like the alternatives of not working, but there is a choice. Having to do something implies that your choice has been taken away.

I choose to use name brand products for certain things and store brand for others. Sometimes I don't always save as much money grocery shopping as I could, but I know that going into it.

I recently wrote a series of articles based on Franklin Covey's 7 Habits, and one of the posts talked in length about how we are a product of our choices, not our circumstances. Oftentimes it is easier to blame things on our circumstances, but in reality, we had the choice to do something different. This was one of the most powerful things I heard when I started my financial freedom journey. I'm glad you've share it here!

<abbr>Kristy @ Master Your Card´s last blog post..What the Banks are Doing With Our Money…</abbr>

8 Vintage Mommy January 29, 2009

I'm continually amazed at the power of habits – good and bad. And I like what people have said about choices v. circumstances; that's a good distinction.

These days, surrounded by layoffs left and right, many families (ours included) will need to do things differently. I'm actually finding it refreshing (easy for me to say as my husband's job is secure at the moment) to live differently.

<abbr>Vintage Mommy´s last blog post..Show & Tell: Nothing to Show OR Tell!</abbr>

9 pam munro January 30, 2009

For years I have chosen to stay in my once very-unfashionable neighborhood because I liked it and I got along well with my immigrant neighbors (I used to be the only one on the rolls when voting.) Now after a long time, it looks better than it ever did – and my rent is very reasonable, too.

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