The freedom of frugality


woman taking notes

It's probably safe to say that for most of us, the imposed frugality of the last few months wasn't the highlight of our year. But it did give us an opportunity to experience what naturally frugal people already know: that being economical about how you manage and spend your money is not only good for your budget, it can also help you focus on long-term goals, and lead to new and fun experiences.

In short, the art of being frugal can enhance your life with a kind of freedom "stuff" can't give you — and can add value to your life in more ways than one. Frugality can:

  • Foster self-sufficiency and independence —

  • If you're looking for ways to save money, you might have to learn to do more things yourself — and that, in itself, comes with benefits. DIY (do it yourself) projects can save you money, and they can also be enjoyable. They might even help you achieve a "flow state" — when you're involved in a challenge so interesting, you lose track of time.

  • Enhance creativity —

  • Because frugal people are selective with their purchases, they tend to look for alternative options to the item. Do you already have something on hand that can serve the purpose? Is it something you can buy at a thrift store for a fraction of the retail price? Is it something you can make? You possess creativity and special gifts that frugality can bring out.

  • Promote good health — and keep you close to nature

  • Many of the elements of simple living are also good for your health: fresh, clean air; fresh fruits and vegetables; plenty of outdoor exercise — and just being outdoors in general. Health care providers often encourage patients to spend time outdoors because time in nature and exposure to plants and animals have psychological and medical benefits. Spending time outside is free. Almost every major city has an abundance of parks you can spend time in.

  • Eliminate waste —

  • Frugal people use what they have on hand before buying more. In the event of a move — or just a good, old-fashioned pantry organizing — you won't find many expired items.

  • Promote contentment —

  • Philosophers have theorized that the core elements necessary for a happy life are minimal. Frugal people get this — they don't get caught up in buying what they don't need. And they know as the newness of an item fades and debt builds, the feeling of happiness that accompanied the purchase can be fleeting.

  • Feelings of contentment and happiness aren't dependent on your possessions. Practicing a daily habit of reflecting on what you're grateful for helps you focus on what you have, rather than on what you want.

  • Give you peace of mind —

  • Even small steps you take toward a frugal lifestyle can make a difference, starting with your mindset. The more you begin to think carefully about how you spend money — and begin implementing your new approach — the more you might become amazed by the power of frugality. Before you know it, saving money could become second nature to you, helping to diminish your debt and attachment to things as you gain peace of mind.