How frugal are you?

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I have read the stories and websites dedicated to frugal living and quite often cringe at the limits some people are willing to go in order to remove themselves from the rat race of society. Recycled toilet paper, washing laundry once a month and flushing the toilet once per day all rank highly on my vomit-o-meter and I can’t help but wonder if it is worth the social deviance compared to a more joyous life.

Would you buy a house, live in your parent’s basement while you rented out your house, ride a bike to work and eat macaroni and cheese every meal? How about working three jobs seven days a week? One guy did this for three years and paid off his $255,000 mortgage. What would you be willing to sacrifice over the short term for a long term benefit? Most of us would dream of it.

My first experience with be frugal and minimalistic came when I was single living in a large three bedroom home with two lounges and an office. I started to believe I needed to fill the rooms up with furniture and trinkets.  I realised that there was ‘stuff’ in my home that I hadn’t used or even looked at for years, like my book collection. I stored dozens of books that I had read over the years with the intention of reading them again someday only to find the pages of them browning with age. Over the next few weeks I dumped them in the bin and moved on the many DVD’s I had stored in a bookcase. I moved the DVD’s to a wallet and threw out the DVD cases. Then there was no need for a bookcase so it went too.

When I eventually sold my house I found that I could rent a much smaller home because I had less “stuff”. I am also blessed to have a Filipino wife who has always embraced frugal living in her country as a lifestyle, not by choice but by necessity. In Australia she refuses to use the dishwasher preferring to wash the dishes the old fashioned way by sink and is a master of cooking to a budget.

Being frugal meant that we were also scrutinising every purchase and making savings where we could. Eventually I created my Debt Destroyer Plan where we took some of the extra money we were saving and pouring it into our bills we drastically reduced the time it would have taken us to pay off our debt. And it didn’t mean going without. We just looked at alternatives to full price items and compared them with the quality of others.

Being frugal is about living within the necessities to survive. How you define that is up to you. If you can’t live without a triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato every morning then you will need to look in other areas. Are there things in your life that continuously costs you money such as vehicle insurance and registration? Do you need a car or a second car?

If you want to live a prosperous life you need to challenge everything. Everything you are considering buying you need to scrutinise, even when you do the grocery shopping. One of our luxury items is Nescafe Mocha satchels. There are twenty in a box and sell for around $11. We wait until they are on special (quite often at $4) where we will stock up. We rarely buy them at full price.

When striving to live your life debt free there will be a need initially to feel some pain in terms of reviewing your spending habits. The trick is to keep your goals alive, take a photo of whatever it is you want and post it to your refrigerator. That way it will always be on your mind and you are more likely to think before you buy next. Good luck.

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