Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Staying Motivated to Live Frugally


As much as I enjoy the challenge of stretching our money as far as it can go, there are definitely times when I feel like I'm on the brink of burnout.  Most days, I am up for the challenge.  I view it as another way to keep my mind active and it causes me to either get creative or exercise my problem-solving skills.  It's a good thing, but there are times every now and again when frugal living can be overwhelming and downright tiring.  Or maybe that's just me?

July has been one of those months for us.  Without boring you with the details, it's just been one of those months where we've been a little discouraged about having to always be so aware of what we spend.  Those moments, though, have forced me to take a step back and re-examine things.

So, today's post is just as much for me as it is for any of you, because I think we all need some encouragement now and again when it comes to saving money.  Without it, we're much more likely to throw in the towel and give up trying altogether.  But where would that really get us?  

Here are some ideas that will hopefully keep us all motivated to continue this journey of frugal living, even when we are on the verge of giving up. 

Remember the "Why?"

With anything in life, if you don't know why you are doing what you are doing, then being consistent is really difficult.  Whether it's a new habit or fitness regimen, doing something just because it is a fad probably isn't going to last.


If you have never thought through why you are trying to save money, then I'd definitely encourage you to take a minute to talk and think through it {with a spouse if you are married}.  If you have thought about the why, perhaps it might be good to re-visit those reasons.  Remind yourself why you even started in the first place.    
Are you trying to meet a certain financial goal {like paying off debt}?
Are you saving up for something specific like a vacation?
Are you trying to put money aside for your children's college fund?
Are you saving so you can stay home with your children?
Are you watching your spending so you can give more to charity?
Especially if some of your "whys?" are long-term and futuristic, then reminding yourself of your motivation is critical.

Set Specific Financial Goals

I started getting serious about trying to live more frugally when I quit work to stay at home with my daughter.  While this is a pretty large "why," I sometimes need something more tangible to keep me going.  This is one of the reasons we have started making financial goals.  They can be large or small, but sometimes it helps to have a concrete goal to keep you moving in the right direction.  

Think about writing them down and posting them in a visible location where you will see them regularly.  I'm a visual person, so it even helps to physically mark through them as we reach them.

Be happy with your own blessings...

Take a Week Off 

We all need a vacation now and again, and I think that also applies to frugal living.  Now, I'm not saying take a week off and go on a spending binge, but I am suggesting that it's okay to put your coupons down for a week and just take a break from all the deal-hunting.  Perhaps you could avoid the grocery store altogether {except for maybe the bare essentials} and simply eat from your pantry or use up what you have on hand.  Sometimes it's nice to just have a break from the weekly routine of making your menu and planning out your trip.

Allow Some Splurges

I read a recent post by Crystal at MoneySavingMom and she referenced a commenter who was critical of her posting a picture of a Starbucks drink.  While the purpose of the post wasn't to address that commenter or to defend her actions, it got me thinking.  If we never allow ourselves to splurge, then staying motivated to continue frugal living is going to be really frustrating.

Let's face it, it's fun to splurge every now and then.  And you know what?  There's nothing inherently wrong with it!  I don't advocate spending money that you don't have, but I do believe it's okay to buy something at full price {oh, the horror!} or spend money on a name-brand item you've been wanting for a while.  If we're not careful, money can become an idol for anyone - whether it's someone trying to save money or someone who is obsessing about spending it.

What do you think about this quote?

I do think it's wise to plan for your splurges though.  Just include them in your budget, whether it's a meal out to celebrate once you've reached a certain financial goal or planning a mini-vacation to make memories with your family even though you are really close to having a fully-funded emergency fund.  Find the balance between working hard, but also enjoying some of that well-earned money.

Find a Support System

It's really nice to have a person in your life who understands your view on finances and money.  I like to call this person a "frugal friend."  If you don't have a frugal friend, pray for God to give you one.  Hopefully, you and your spouse are on the same page already, but it's still nice to have someone else who "gets it."  

If you don't have a frugal friend yet, you can still find a great support system through the internet.  I find blogs to be really inspiring and encouraging, but there are also all sorts of social media groups.  I haven't dabbled too much into them because of a lack of time, but do what you have to do to find the support you need.  It's out there, but you may have to look for it.

Despite the frustrating moments at times, I've found frugal living to be worth the effort.  It's caused us to think about our needs versus our wants much more intentionally and helped us realize we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams!  All the stuff in the world would never bring me the true joy and fulfillment that I desire.  

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How do YOU stay motivated to continue frugal living?
I'd love to hear what works for you!         


18 comments:

  1. thank you sarah don't have any money to actually really do a budget waiting on my disability to come through but doing what I can with what I have and I appreciate posts like yours to help me on my way visiting from whimsey wednesday thanks again and zen hugs

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    1. Thanks for your sweet comment! I hope it was some sort of encouragement as you navigate trying to live within your means. :-)

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  2. Sarah, I couldn't agree with you more about taking a frugal break every once in awhile. It is ok to stop for ice cream or have a Starbucks coffee if that is what you enjoy! I have been known not to go to the grocery store for a whole week and before you know it the next week is here and I have saved a whole week's worth of grocery money. I might have to get more creative with my menu, but I can always pull a few meals out of my pantry without shopping. The last time I did that I had the extra money to get a pedicure...not something I get to do very often so it was a real treat for me! This post had some great advice! Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I may try an "eat from the pantry only" challenge at some point soon. I think it's a great way to really challenge yourself to get creative and save some money {or use it to treat yourself} quickly! :-)

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  3. As a very thrifty reader, loved your blog post. I like to think that you save your money for your priorities in life -- for example, I'm frugal all year but like to take one or two nice vacations. Am fine buying all used furniture from garage sales, but like a new, high-quality couch every 20 years or so!

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  4. Thank you so much for sharing the quote, "Someone else is happy with less than what you have." I really needed to hear that this week. And I think your suggestions are so wise and can apply to a lot of areas in our life.

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  5. It can be really hard to stay frugal, especially if your spouse isn't on board with it or "falls off the wagon." My husband goes on spending binges sometimes and it is really hard not to feel jealous and and jump right in with him. Thinking about our long term goals is the only thing that keeps me going, even if I do slip from time to time. Thanks for the motivational post!

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    1. I can imagine that would be very discouraging, Lizzi. When my husband and I felt like we weren't always on the same page regarding finances, we started something we call weekly financial check-in meetings. I wonder if your husband would be willing to consider doing something like that? It's so hard when both of you aren't on the same page, but I'd keep trying to find a way to compromise so you both feel encouraged. Hang in there!

      http://www.theteacherswife.com/2014/01/the-teachers-salary-series-how-and-why.html

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  6. Thanks for this post! We are new to the frugal lifestyle and also blogging about it. It was nice to stumble on this! I will be following your blog for sure!

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement - I'm so glad you stopped by! It's nice to find others who are "in the same boat!"

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  7. It can be really hard to stay motivated like you said allowing those splurges every now and again are a necessity. Breaks are a must two. When I go on coupon breaks I get a little anxiety like I am missing out but couponing can become a little tiring so breaks are good.

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    1. I feel the same way sometimes. I used to bring my coupons with me when I was on vacation {just in case I'd find a great deal to snag up}, but quickly stopped doing that because I realized I needed break from it. It can get all-consuming if you aren't careful! :-)

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  8. These are all good points on staying motivated to live frugally and I wholeheartedly agree with you! Another way I've found to keep myself motivated is to calculate the savings this particular action created in an annual dollar amount. It's hard to feel motivated because you saved $5 per month on your cell service, but when you realize that's $60 per year with no further action from you, it's a little more satisfying. Thanks for sharing this post! (visiting from Homemade Mondays hop)

    ~Taylor-Made Ranch~
    Texas

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    1. That's a great idea! Sometimes when you see the "big picture" of your savings, you can really be encouraged! Thanks for sharing. :-)

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  9. My husband works in the public school so we also live off a "teacher salary." I quit my job to stay at home with my son so as my husband says that it has been my job to make ends meet since then. We live very frugally but the summer is hard. There are tons of things to do that cost money so I start to feel bad that we can't do them. I was looking at getting a part time job to make a little money to help out when my son goes to school but was getting sick trying to figure out how I was going to do it and get him where he needed to be. My husband told me that I didn't need to work and that we were doing just fine as we were and he didn't think that he was giving up anything. Just a little check in with my husband and now I am feeling much better about being at home and living frugally!!! It does get exhausting but as long as your hard work isn't going unnoticed, it makes a difference. Great post!!

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    1. Sounds like we have a lot in common, Alison!! :-) It sounds like your husband is a real encouragement, which is great. Working as a team to encourage one another if/when we get frustrated is such a blessing! I know what you mean about summer - we'd love to splurge on a trip to an amusement park, but we have to stick with cheaper or free options like local parks, which are still fun! :-)

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Thank you so much for reading! I love to know what you think, as long as it's in love and with kindness.

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