It can be argued that there is no such thing as a frugal instinct, simply a set of well-practiced behaviours and habits that allow an individual to save money where others may spend or make concessions in their budget where others may not be able to track their expenditures. These differences between people can often be simplified through frugality.
Seasoned frugalistas and individuals bound by serious debt solution agreements alike will argue that a frugal instinct can be achieved, so what are the top tips in instilling the frugal instinct they would advocate?
Fight the Attraction!
Frugality has the untrue perception of being a set of lifestyle choices characteristically miserly and devoid of fun and entertainment. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Entertainment attractions like cinemas offer a great source of entertainment but at a cost that cannot be justified against the cost of holding a weekly movie night between friends. And what of that latest book that’s promised to be a killer read? Those frugal individuals of us think nothing of asking around our friends or borrow a copy from a library; the lack of “I must buy that” thought is the instinct!
Indulge Your Childish Side
Children have a wonderfully inquisitive nature and this is reflected in their innate acceptance of things that they are not normalized to. As individuals grow and become immersed in the social norms of the adult world they lose this inquisitive streak, but frugality retains this streak in almost an act of rebellion. Stores generally place items with the highest profit margin at eye level, so individuals have to search for cheaper items.
In choosing a store’s own brand over a bottle of branded tomato ketchup, for instance, not only are frugalistas eating healthier (studies have proven branded products typically contain more salt and sugar than store brands) they are also using simple childhood lessons too easily forgotten (and, of course, saving money in the act)!
Cash In Your Credit
Individuals in debt solution arrangements are not permitted to use credit unless with the express permission of their Insolvency Practitioner. The theory behind this clause in the arrangements is that by using cash instead of credit, an individual is unable to spend beyond the hard money they hold in their hand. While these are personal finance basics that these individuals have to re-learn, having frugal instincts involves revisiting the basics of money-saving strategies every now and again before automatically reaching for the credit card.
Nurture Your Inner Negotiator
Whilst it is never advisable to create a hostage situation in order to buy your groceries cheaper, the art of negotiation is an inherent skill in the most frugal of frugalistas. The skills of negotiation can be simplified down to having exceptional communication skills combined with knowledge of an item’s worth. If you don’t believe an item is worth what a trader is asking for, unashamedly utilise your secret negotiator skills to haggle, bearing in mind to leave room for compromise, and walk away if you’re not happy with a final price. Alternatively, for the meeker frugalistas, price comparison websites have now become commonplace for a variety of products and offer a great way to save time and money.
Indulge Your Budget Critic
Similar to returning to the basics of using credit, an individual with a seasoned approach to frugality will constantly evaluate their budgets, constantly seeking sections in their expenditures that they are able to trim down and determining where expenditures become unnecessary. So whilst frugalistas are not, in fact, killjoys they are constantly looking for cheaper, more efficient ways to conduct their lives. A significant factor in frugality is control: self-control in spending; control in documenting income and expenditure; control in preparing for the future. Some factors will always be out of an individual’s control, though, and knowing the limits to your control often means the difference between being a sane or stressed frugalista!
This post was written by David Brown, a freelance writer currently writing on behalf of debt advice website IVA.net who provide a comprehensive range of debt help through guides and tools to support individuals in achieving healthier finances.