If you really want to excel in frugal living, the first thing to work on is not so much your spending habits but your mindset. All the rest follows.
Frugal living, you see, is more than making deliberate effort to save money. If is more akin to a philosophy, one in which the person realizes that there is more to life than material possessions. In fact, as you become more advanced in the way of practical frugal living, you come to realize that material possessions are, in many ways, antithetical to a peaceful, tranquil existence. You value simple living.
You realize, for example, that life is more enjoyable at a slow pace; that there is tremendous value simply sitting on the front porch watching the sun rise or set; that few things are more enjoyable than playing an old fashioned board game with your spouse and young children; that being pulled thee different directions at the same time, all with a cell phone planted to your ear is stressful and to be avoided. You rediscover the tremendous sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a car repair or a do-it-yourself project on your own. You realize that using a good, old-fashioned rake is far healthier, both physically and mentally, than annoying your neighbors by blasting a leaf blower for hours on end. You appreciate that a bagged lunch from home is not only healthier and lower in cost, but that it can be consumed in far less time than a restaurant meal, thus leaving you more time for more productive activity.
Aside from these epiphanies, you also come to learn that SUVs serve little purpose and that a Toyota Corolla or Yaris can get you somewhere every bit as effectively and for more efficiently than a Mercedes. Then, as you advance in your development of the frugal mindset, you even learn that the people who feel the need to drive luxury cars for such reasons as to “show they’ve arrived” are shallow drips who you do not need to worry about impressing. Likewise, you appreciate the fact that simply paying off the mortgage on your existing home is a far wiser accomplishment than moving up to a needlessly bigger house in a higher end neighborhood and that the rationalized excuse of “outgrowing the home” is pure nonsense. You come to realize that many of the pretentious people who fixate on vehicle and home sizes are up to their ears in debt, and you realize what the expression “All hat, no cattle” means, as described in Stanley and Danko’s landmark book the Millionaire Next Door.
Putting these realizations together, you will eventually reach that utopic point of financial independence — the point where you are fee of debt and your resulting savings are sufficient to cover your modest living expenses with or without a job. You may well continue to work out of personal choice, but you are no longer chained to a job or a boss that you hate. You accrue that cherished “go to hell fund” described by the millionaires interviewed in the aforementioned Stanley and Danko book.
Sound pretty good, doesn’t it?