Today’s money hack is about the benefits of living frugally.
Money is one of the biggest concerns of life yet many philosophers say that amassing it will not directly lead to happiness. Earning more will indeed put more money in the bank but unless you find a way to be content with what you have, you will keep yearning for more things and more money, which leads to lifestyle inflation.
One way to avoid lifestyle inflation, which can easily lead to debt, is to adopt a frugal philosophy in life. Frugality, being the antidote to lifestyle inflation and mindless consumerism, can lead to happiness and mental wellness, and that is what this article discusses today.
You may have wondered what a frugal lifestyle actually entails and the answer to that cannot be contained in a single blog post because there are infinite ways to be frugal. What can be defined are a few guiding principles that can lead to positive lifestyle changes.
1. Frugality differentiates between needs and wants which prevents lifestyle inflation
A frugal philosophy allows you to determine the things you truly need in life, so when you get a raise, you don’t necessarily increase your spending as well, leaving your net worth the same as before. As a consumer, you understand that commercials and ads encourage you to buy things non-stop, and that having more possessions does not lead to happiness but causes “stuffocation“. A frugal person avoids falling prey to consumerism because he or she does not let marketing campaigns sway their buying behaviour or determine what they need or want. The link points to an interesting article titled, How Advertisements Seduce Your Brain by Live Science.
2. Frugality teaches gratitude
Frugality requires that you attempt to spend on what adds the most value to your life, be it financial value or social and emotional value. This means you get rid of anything that isn’t truly valuable to your lifestyle and overall well-being.
You get a chance to be genuinely grateful for what you have and do not fret over an endless list of things you want because you recognise that your needs have been met. There is simply no desire to buy more things because you’re content with what you have. Plus, any additions to your belongings will naturally be highly valued by you, imparting more happiness and contentment.
3. Frugality encourages you to spend money on ‘experiences’
A famous quote works well here:
Fill your life with experiences not objects. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.
I could not find the author of this quote but it seems to be a universally accepted idea that spending money on creating good memories (through experiences) leads to lasting happiness, instead of spending money on new things, which only creates temporary pleasure that is soon diminished as the next new thing is in the market.
Experiences need not be expensive because something as simple as a picnic, going on a hike, visiting a park or zoo with your family, can get your dopamine levels up as well as create lasting bonds with your friends and family.
4. Frugal living supports the idea of ‘value for money’
Looking for ways to stretch your money stops you from splurging on the hottest new trend, which changes every few months. Humans wants are unlimited and it is natural to want the latest gadgets, wear the latest fashion, eat at the fanciest restaurants but as a frugal consumer, you place more importance on maximising the value of your hard earned money. Therefore, when something falls beyond your budget, you easily move on instead of moping about not being able to buy what you wanted.
Plus, as you make attempts to save money whenever possible, you get to praise yourself for your efforts and maybe even privately gloat at your achievement of being a careful spender.
5. Frugality keeps you away from the rat race
Human are social animals and often compare themselves to those around them to determine whether they are socially or economically superior. This habit of keeping up with the Joneses is not only time consuming but also stressful and futile.
Alan Watts, a renowned philosopher, said,
The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.
In the same vein, Baz Luhrman’s shared some wisdom through his song, Sunscreen,
“…sometimes you’re ahead,
sometimes you’re behind;
the race is long,
and in the end,
it’s only with yourself.”
The rat race keeps you in a rush, always trying to earn more so you can buy more things, that you don’t always need. To step out of this loop, you need frugality, which stops you from running after things that the society expects you to own and focus on what you value in your life.
When you stop comparing your possessions with the possessions of your peers, and you stop adding to your shopping list based on what the next person owns, you will no longer be part of the rat race that keeps you wanting more and more.
In the end, you will find that you are at peace with yourself – one of the most valuable feelings in the world.