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How to Craft a Frugal Lifestyle

It’s chilly here in Atlanta. No, it’s not the type of chilly that northerners have to contend with, but it’s cold enough so that I’ve donned a blanket to wear around myself while typing. The reason WHY it’s cold in my house is that I set the thermostat to 60 – just at my limit of standing cold – to save money on my power bill.

And it’s paid off, too. Last year, when my air conditioning was set to 68, the bills were around $200 for this three bed, two bath place. Our bill for November was $123, a savings of $77 for this month.

I’ve been looking for games on Kongregate this morning, too. I found a tower defense game that I’m enjoying, something that’s good for a couple of hours worth of gameplay. While it’s not the games that I would have to BUY to play, it still keeps me occupied. That’s around $20 for just this month.

Speaking of games, I also downloaded the demo of Enchanted Cavern 2 from Big Fish Games so I could see how the game itself played. It was reasonable, but I don’t believe that I’m going to purchase the game after the hour. I’d rather save my money on that.

The biggest thing on our agenda is to get the emergency fund back up to $1000 and pay off the credit card. The plan is that I will pour money into the credit card and pay bills off of it. That way, since the money is available, I can pay the minimum monthly payment as well as the other bills. Every penny except for the mortgage goes into the credit card. Hopefully, the $9000 balance will be paid off by the middle of August.

A holistic approach needs to be taken to financial management. Every tiny thing that is done, regardless of whether it spends or saves, factors in to a general lifestyle. Money affects everything, including love, personal well being, happiness, and spiritual growth. Each decision influences the other to form patterns of frugality, waste, or moderation.

So, my decision not to purchase a game leaves $20 in my pocket that I can spend on going out to eat, or putting toward the credit card bill, or saving until I need it for car repair, or the emergency fund, or whatever I choose. That $77 that I saved on power is going to be pushed toward the phone bill or groceries. These decisions form trends, patterns, and a lifestyle.

How to Craft a Frugal Lifestyle

Determine why you want a frugal lifestyle

Do you want to have some extra money in your pocket for the important things? Do you simply want to have a higher bank balance than your friends? (no, this is not a frivolous reason) Do you see this as a path to getting the stuff that you feel you deserve?

Determine whether it’s worth it

Regardless of your reasoning for wanting the frugal lifestyle, you have to make the decision about whether going through the effort is worth it. I tend to do beneficial stuff for myself only when the detrimental stuff gets in my way. When it’s more comfortable to be frugal than to not be frugal, I’ll be frugal.

Most of the time, I’m frugal because I don’t want to be in the yoke of the banks. I want to own the deed to my house free and clear. I want to have the maximum amount of money available for whatever whim I set my sights on that week. So, I keep the heater at 60 degrees, or I play the free video games and the demos.

If it’s really important, do it

If you’ve thought about getting a particular item, doing a particular thing, or going on a particular journey and it’s really important to you, do it. If you want to purchase the VIP suites at the Mirage, save up enough money to do it – and don’t feel guilty about it. If your tongue is absolutely, positively, and completely set on scallops, eat them.

If you’re ambivalent, screw it

If you don’t particularly care what you eat or where you go, then choose the cheaper method or go without. For me, I’m happy with nearly any food that gets put into my mouth, and I’m really happy to be around my friends. It doesn’t matter if we’re eating out at the finest restaurant in Atlanta or sitting around at home playing cards – I’m in it for the friends.

I’m particular about a very few things in my foods, loyal to name brands, but most of the time I shop at Aldi and save a fortune. Everything’s a store brand, and most of it is pretty tasty (stay away from noodle soups). I won’t purchase mayo there, because I’m a Hellmann’s girl. I get the things that are worth it to me.

The key to developing a frugal lifestyle is thinking before acting. If there’s something with a price tag attached that you want, do the research to get the best pricing. If you don’t care one way or the other, choose the cheap or free method. Be mindful and enjoy.