One of the biggest problems I have with my journey towards living a more frugal life is staying motivated. I have now been actively working on improving my finances for more than a year and a half. And while this may not seem like a long time to those who have been trying to get out of debt for longer than me, it seems plenty long enough.
I’m learning about frugality and living a more frugal life for many reasons. Some are financial (trying to get rid of past debt and save for the future), some are environmental (being frugal means that I leave a smaller environmental footprint), and some are, if not exactly moral, strongly motivated by my values (I think it’s wrong to over-consume, when there are so many people out there with nothing). So the first way that I keep myself motivated to stay the frugal course is by reminding myself of why I am frugal.
I also use my children as motivators– what parent wouldn’t? I don’t want them to grow up with financial problems, and I know that by being more frugal I will be better able to provide for their needs, both psychological and financial. I rely a lot on other people to help keep me going: my friends who share frugal tips with me, or others who commiserate over not always having enough money to pay the bills. And it goes without saying that the Almost Frugal readers, you guys, are a huge motivator for me.
Finally, I stay motivated by having concrete goals, and reminding myself of them often. For example, when we were thinking of buying a house a few years ago, I put pictures of houses and real estate listings on the door of the fridge as a motivator to save money. Now I carry deposit slips for my ING emergency fund account in my wallet, right next to my checkbook, so that when extra money comes my way, I can send it off to be deposited immediately.
It’s hard maintaining any level of intensity over the long haul– that’s why gyms, packed full on January 2nd, are back to pre new year’s activity levels by March 15th! But it can be done… and like most other things, it’s easier with a little help from your friends.
How do you stay motivated to be frugal, to pay off debt, to save your extra money?