We talked about the practice of frugal flexibility. It’s a skill that you acquire by going through the steps over and over, until it becomes your standard for your monthly, quarterly and annual expenses.
Taking it one step farther, we’ll look at the day-to-day frugal and practical details: shopping for household needs.
It’s easy to go through a day and find yourself $20 short, and it wasn’t spent on lunch, or gas, or bills.
Little “wants” crowd our days; those fancy coffees, packaged cookies, smooth writing pens, fun and colorful lighters, funky key chains and delicious candy bars beg our attention on a daily basis.
When you recognize that it’s a “want”, not a “need”, you can begin to make firm mental separation and move toward practical purchasing. It’s a matter of looking at the object and removing the emotion. Then test it: do you have an alternate drink at home; do you have alternate snacks at home; are you out of pens; would a plain pack of lighters be more affordable.
Practice the test on each object that pulls on your desires and emotions.
Find solutions for those items that you need but could really function well with if they were in a plain and more affordable version. Buy a snack pack of chips to keep at the office. Keep a can of peanuts in the car to snack on. Learn to make your own flavored coffee at home.
Find Your Frugal Diligence
Frugal diligence means you become practiced to keep your money reserved for your necessary things.
It’s not an easy task. There are attractive, affordable, delicious, handy items everywhere you turn. Your wallet is constantly being lured by advertisements and display racks; the pure emotional impulse to buy that one product that will make you feel better in some way.
You’ve got to practice telling yourself and your desires and impulses “no”.
You might require a reward system for doing so, such as a once a week treat: if you made it through the week without being lured by your “wants”, give yourself one of those things at the end of the week. It’s a practice, a new habit; it’s not an oath to do completely without.
Write it Down
List those items that are priority for the week, and list those items that will be priority in the next two or three weeks.
When you write it out, you create a visual reminder of your goal to help you keep that purchase in mind. There is something about writing that makes a brain imprint. It’s not the same as adding a task to your email calendar, or typing it into your shopping list.
Write it down. It will help train your brain and keep you from spending needlessly and winding up short.
Make a List
Use a shopping list whenever you intend to make a purchase.
List every item that you need for the immediate shopping trip, and on it list only very few items that you want.
Review the list and compare it to your local sales flyer. It’s possible that some of the items on your list are on sale at a great price. Try to plan your budget to buy more of those, since they’re items you normally purchase.
Prepare for Your Purchases
You’re ready to go shopping for your weekly needs.
Don’t leave home hungry! Grab a quick snack before you leave the house. Fill up a convenient travel cup or mug so that you have a drink in case you get thirsty. Prepare ahead for those cravings and stop them before they start.
Stop! Before you leave home, make certain that you know exactly what you’re setting out to purchase. Review the items on the list and give them a quick monetary value so that you have an idea what you’re about to spend.
Stick to Your List
When you’re shopping, keep that list front and center. It’s so easy to “free wheel” and be lured by the display racks and advertisements and sales notices. Stay on target.
Stick to your list. Resist the urge to buy those impulse items. Restrain yourself from grabbing those bargains that you really don’t need as you go past them.
Make it Your Habit
Practice these steps each week. Get in the habit of making practical purchases.
Over time, you’ll find that it becomes part of your routine, and you are able to save more to make larger purchases or pay down high debt.
You can do it!