Frugality is an art

17 12 2009

I’ve never been good with saving money. I usually desire to buy and enjoy numerous things – both tangible and intangible. I do a little impulse shopping now and then, like to have a large wardrobe and accessories, travel a lot, and usually choose convenience &  more positive experience over lower price tag (within reason, of course). In short, I’m a spend thrift. While it’s not at any alarming rate, I can’t help think that I should incorporate certain degree of frugality into my habits.

Being frugal, also means efficient use of those which are bought, not just  optimizing spending (which of course are interrelated). I’m not very good at this either. 😦

Once in a while, I do try to pull back the reins of my spending spree, but only to get back to my usual pace within a short time. What I save in one case, I end up spending in another. I really get discouraged at such times and wonder how others are able to save better. I even started to think that frugality is an art, which I can never master.

As I observed the life style of some acquaintances known for their husbandry, I found some distinct characteristics that distinguish them from people like me:

  • They buy something only when there is an absolute need, which cannot be left unmet for all practical reasons. Here, “only”, and “absolute” are the keywords.
  • The sole factor influencing their buying decision (for other not-so-essential items) is usually the price tag. And the fact that the price is higher than they are willing to pay (which is usually around the lowest price the product can normally have) immediately makes them lose their interest in the product.
  • They usually have a dislike towards outside food and like to always have home cooked food, thereby eliminating the dine-out spending. Dining-out is a very rare occurrence for them.
  • They usually don’t like to eat lots of snacks or junk food – anything that can increase their grocery spending considerably. They regulate their eating habits accordingly.
  • They usually don’t travel much – preferring short outings, if at all they wish to go.
  • They are very good energy savers – be it gas for car by minimizing the trips to market or work or be it electricity – using it to the minimum possible (I know, “minimum possible” is a very relative term, but I can’t explain it further here.). These savings of course directly result in saved pennies.
  • They usually like to buy things which can be used in multiple ways or circumstances, so that they have to buy lesser items at the end of the day.
  • They almost never buy anything impulsively.
  • They usually prefer a lower price tag to convenience or experience. (willing to take extra pains to bag something at lower price )

There definitely are many others, but I think these will suffice for now. All these can be summed up into:

  • They have less costly habits and tastes
  • Their primary goal is to spend as less as possible
  • They adjust their desires and wishes around the amount they are willing to spend.

It might look sometimes that they are sacrificing or depriving themselves of many things, but it’s not that way at all. Their aversion to spending is genuine and they are not repressing anything. Frugality is an attitude and a way of life, to which they have been accustomed, shaped by different factors like genes, upbringing, cultural influence, and personal experiences.

Truly frugal people really come up with many different strategies to minimize cost and are usually efficient in everything they handle. Most of those tactics never fail to awe me.

So, just restricting one’s actions doesn’t result in permanent results, unless the thought process and attitude itself is changed. And I think it takes a lot for this change to happen – at least for people like me.  🙂 Since I don’t wish or hope to be ‘very’ frugal, I feel just an effort towards that direction (by picking up some tips), at least for the ‘efficiency’ part, would definitely help.

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