Have you fallen into the trap of thinking that money is the key to happiness? Maybe it’s time to take a step back and look at life differently.
Deep inside, we all know that money cannot buy happiness. Yet, when we’re feeling a little down, many of us tend to self-administer a little “retail therapy,” leading to overspending and more debt than our income can support.
Here’s a different concept to consider – living frugally may make you happier than living lavishly.
Keep reading. We’re not talking about total self-deprivation.
Living frugally isn’t necessarily about pinching pennies and denying yourself things you want. It is about relieving the stress of worrying about money. It can also be about achieving a goal that will make you happier.
What goals would provide satisfaction from deciding to lead a more frugal lifestyle? Without a reason to change your spending habits and a goal to work toward, it’s easy to fall back into old habits.
There are several great things you can accomplish by limiting your spending today. Maybe you’d like to retire early. Perhaps you want to travel more or buy your dream home. You may want to work less and spend more time with your family.
Whatever reason you have for changing your spending habits, write it down and keep it somewhere that provides a constant reminder. Once you’ve started your new lifestyle, you may be pleasantly surprised at your newfound happiness.
Here are some benefits of living the frugal life that can provide more immediate happiness.
- You will find yourself choosing experiences over things. Rather than going to the mall and purchasing a new outfit or technology toy, you’re more apt to go for a hike, visit the beach, or hang out with friends or family. These experiences provide memories and happiness that can last a lifetime while that new outfit or thing will just provide temporary happiness.
- You’ll start to notice your debt diminishing. An excessive debt burden can tie you to jobs and homes that you end up hating because you feel you have no other choice. Once your debt becomes less burdensome, you’ll have the freedom to choose a profession and living location that makes you happy.
- You could have more leisure time. Once you’ve relieved the hold that excessive debt has on your life, you won’t need to work as many hours to make ends meet.
- Living frugally may put you on the path to early retirement. Do you look forward to the time when you can spend your days gardening, traveling, or enjoying any number of more pleasurable things? Being able to put more funds away for retirement will help you get to those days earlier than you could if you continue to spend lavishly.
So maybe living the frugal lifestyle isn’t sounding all that bad? Here are some ways to get started.
- Start small. Make a list of what you’d like to accomplish, how much money you’ll need to achieve it, and formulate a plan.
- Zero in on expenses you can live without. Trade that high-priced, drive-thru coffee for a cup you brew at home. Make a commitment to brown bag your lunch or eat dinner in at least a couple more times a week than you do now. These steps alone could free up a hundred dollars or more in extra funds each month.
- If you’re paying down multiple credit cards, consolidate them into one loan or to a single, lower-interest credit card. You will save significantly on finance charges. (Once you’ve consolidated your credit card debt, be sure to keep your oldest credit card account open. That long standing account helps your credit score. Close some or all of the high rate cards to eliminate the temptation to use them.)
- Clip coupons and look for sales. You may be surprised at how much satisfaction you’ll feel when you see these savings at the checkout counter.
- Look for ways to lower your monthly bills. Are you paying a huge bill for cable TV? Many people pay a large cable bill and only watch a handful of channels. See if there is a cheaper package available. Is your electric bill higher than it should be? Try hanging your clothes outside to dry rather than using your clothes dryer whenever possible. Air dried clothes can smell awesome! Another good habit to get into is unplugging electronic devices when you’re not using them.
Give frugal living a try! You have nothing to lose but expenses, and you will probably gain some unexpected happiness along the way.
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