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If you want to live a frugal lifestyle, you need to learn to tell the difference between the things you want and the things you need. But how will you know? There are a few things to consider. Being able to buy only what you need doesn’t have to be hard.
I used to think I needed a lot more than I really did. Once I learned the difference, I was able to keep more of my money in my account. Having extra money will help you achieve the bigger goals you set for yourself when you start your budget.
Overspending is similar to overeating. It gives you a sense of euphoria while you are doing it, but it can lead to buyer’s remorse later on. Remember that you don’t have to be like everyone else, what you have is enough.
1. Is the Timing Right?
Timing is everything. You should consider the timing of purchases in relation to your budget. When you make a budget, your income and bills play the biggest role. You must make sure that purchases you are considering won’t mess up being able to pay bills.
An example would be, I know my mortgage is due on the first, so I usually don’t consider any extra purchases until the next paycheck. (I get paid bi-weekly) The only exception is if I have saved enough in my miscellaneous category to purchase from. Then, I can decide if the item is worth purchasing.
You certainly don’t want a frivolous purchase to be the reason you can’t pay a bill.
2. Can You Resist a Sale?
If you are like me, you love a good coupon. I get thousands of emails per week bombarding me with sales and coupon codes, but this doesn’t mean it’s a good time to buy.
I have resisted the temptation several times this week already. One example is an email I get called Brad’s Deals. While they do find and send the best deals on the internet, it doesn’t mean you have to buy it.
I purchased my Kitchen Aid Mixer from a Brad’s Deals email and got a great deal, but I have also ignored hundreds of other deals they have shown me recently, like shoes I like but don’t need.
The internet is really good at advertising to you and they love trying to tempt you. They use very smart algorithms to do it, too. If you mention something or look at something, they are going to show it to you over and over which can make resisting very hard. (I hate this by the way but it’s smart on their part.)
You need to remember your long term goals and have them written down somewhere to remind you of the reason why you aren’t going to make any unnecessary purchases right now.
Tip: If the emails are too tempting, you can very simply unsubscribe (this is usually located at the bottom of the email).
3. Is it a Need?
A need is something you must have, it is essential or important to living your life. A want is a desire or something you wish for, it can add comfort to life but isn’t necessary.
Making sure you know the difference is going to be key here. I’m sure if you are like me, you can convince yourself that the thing you “want” is needed but you have to ask yourself: Is this item essential to survival? Can I live my life without it?
If you can say no, you probably don’t need it and should avoid buying it.
4. Can it Wait?
If you really want something and it is worth it, you can wait. Sometimes, waiting to buy something will help you realize how much you desire it. When I go clothing shopping, I will pick out an item and carry it around the store with me while I shop.
Usually, only to end up putting the item back because I have had time to think about whether or not I really want it. This helps me to not overspend. Buying things on the fly will almost always make you regret it later.
5. Stick to Your List
This is a big one when I hit up the grocery store. If you make a plan before you go to the store and take a list, sticking to the list will save you lots of money.
Another way that making a list will save you is when you run errands. Sticking with the list will help keep you from stopping at TJ Maxx or Target for things you weren’t after originally.
6. Price vs Hours Worked
I explained this one to my teenager to help him better understand where his money goes, and it makes sense. If something you want costs $100, and you make $10 per hour, you will have to work 10 hours before you have earned enough money to buy it.
Teaching teens good money habits is the same as adults, sometimes you have to make it easy to understand. Once you put things into perspective, it makes more sense.
7. Will it Last?
Whatever it is you are thinking about buying, you need to ask yourself if it’s worth it? Is it a good quality item that will last or is it junk that you will end up throwing away after you use it a few times.
This helps me make a decision when I am on the fence about spending money. It needs to be a good quality item or it’s just not worth it. It’s very similar to what I told my ten year old about prizes you win at the carnival. If you spend $20 to get enough tickets for the $.50 prize then you have wasted $19.50.
Yes, I let my kids play carnival games but I do what them to understand where the money goes. Who else is going to teach them what they need to know?
8. Remember you are Blessed
If you take the time to realize that you are one lucky person that is blessed with so many things, you won’t need to make unnecessary purchases to keep up with what everyone else has.
I know that I am an individual who loves what I love and I don’t need to look a certain way or have certain things in order to impress other people. Worrying about material belongings will keep you stressed out about the wrong things. Take a minute and look around at what you do have, then be thankful for it.
This philosophy has helped me out on my financial journey by making me realize what is important. This goes under the “make goals for yourself” category of budgeting. My goal is to be debt-free so in order to get there, I need to be happy with the things I have.
9. Give Yourself a Free Pass
If you have stuck with your budget and been good all month, it is ok to give yourself a free pass to buy something you want. It may be impossible to resist all urges but knowing you get a reward will help you stop overspending during the month.
Sometimes if I have been really good, I don’t even want to buy something for myself because I am so proud of what I have accomplished.
Spend less money, prevent debt, and find ways to save. These 3 things should be at the top of your list. If you can do these, you will have an abundant life that allows you to enjoy the things in life you ultimately love.
And it’s normal to feel tempted, it happens to me every single time I look at my e-mail. It’s ok. Just remember your reasons and ignore the urge.
If you need help with living a frugal life, follow me on Pinterest for more great content. You can live a great life while spending less money.