Thursday, July 29, 2010

Frugal Attitudes

In my culture there is a saying regarding self improvement. It claims that to change even one personality trait is a lifelong task. Even so, I present you with a list of attitudes and traits that definitely help you in living a frugal life. If these aren't ones that you currently possess, it does behoove you to try to learn to be a bit more like this, as these changes can only make your life easier and more enjoyable and allow you to be as frugal as you need to be without making yourself miserable in the process.

Being Frugal

Be Willing To Change.
I've mentioned this before but I'll mention it a million times if I have to. So long as you are unwilling to change what you're doing, baring a miracle or a bout of tremendous luck, nothing will change in your financial situation. The only way you'll be able to improve a situation is by first being willing to change.

Be Proactive.
Complaining and not doing anything to change the situation is a fruitless (and annoying) endeavor. When something bugs you, be proactive and get things done. If your financial situation bothers you, get up off your behind and make a change instead of just moping.

Be Active.
Laziness, in addition to simply being a bad trait, also makes you end up spending more money. Stop being lazy, get things done yourself, and you'll find yourself with lots more money in your wallet at the end of the day. Being active also keeps you in shape, so you don't need to pay someone else to let you get in shape on their terms (the gym).

Be Willing to Take Responsibility For Your Financial Situation.
Owning up for any financial issues you have, claiming responsibility for your mistakes and actions that caused you to arrive in your financial predicament, and not expecting others to bail you out is a very important part of improving the situation. Playing the blame game gets you nowhere. Taking responsibility for your finances does.

Be Optimistic.
Looking at the positive helps you deal with situations that may be slightly less than ideal. Some readers are sure that my husband, children and I must be miserable living on our very tight budget and living extremely frugally, but honestly, such is not the case. By focusing on the good, counting our blessings, and appreciating all the abundance we have instead of looking at all the green grass on that other side of the fence definitely makes our life a great deal happier. This attitude is what allows us to tolerate our situation without letting it get us down. Focusing on the positive and looking at the bright side of the situation is an important part of being frugal.

Be Willing To Look At Challenges as Opportunities for Growth.
Adversity and overcoming it is one of the important parts of human growth. Stagnation comes from lack of challenge. When things are tight financially and less than ideal, harnessing the potential of the situation and using it to help us better ourselves in so many ways is the best way to deal with challenges without letting them get you down. Use your financial situation as a catalyst for improvement.

Be Willing to Swim Against the Tide.
I'll admit it. I hate being different. I've always stuck out when I've longed to have the ability to be a chameleon. I, too, have spent time and money trying to keep up with the Joneses in the hopes of fitting in, but honestly... the Joneses are hopelessly in debt.
Be willing to be different. Sure, you can try to fit in while cutting corners at the same time, like furnishing your home with stylish thrifted and upcycled things, and wearing second hand or homemade "with it" clothes. But when keeping up with the Joneses requires you to spend money that you simply don't have, remember, it's ok to be different. Its ok to do things that others don't do if that is what your finances dictate.
I've come to learn that being different and sure of yourself and with a conviction for what you're doing might elicit a few questions at first, but then those questions subside and you're usually left with admirers, not dissenters. Oddball me is now actually one of the people in the community that people look up to, strangely enough. I'm not saying this to be boastful, merely to say that you can swim against the tide and still be accepted. Just pick your community wisely.

Be Willing to Stand Your Ground and Stick to Convictions.
Sure, there'll be dissenters along the way who will try to convince you to "quit your foolishness" and "stop making your family crazy" and may call you all sorts of names and try to get you to stop doing different things and just "live a little". Its important to remember why you do what you do and stay firm. Don't be swayed by others' dissension. Realize that you're gonna get somewhere some day, while the dissenters may end up hopelessly in debt.

Be Prepared For the Unexpected.
Not planning ahead can cost you money in more ways than one. Try to think of future possible scenarios and prepare in advance. Build an emergency fund, preferably enough to live off of for 3 months, as a backup in case something unexpected happens. This preparedness is extremely beneficial should things crop up.

Be Ready to Roll With the Punches.
Sure, you may not have wanted something to happen, but by improvising when situations crop up, you'll help the situation more than if you panic.

Be Flexible.
Go with the flow. Rigidity can cost you if you're not able to change your plans or methods when circumstances dictate it. Learn to be more adaptable and be willing to let loose once in a while.

Be Adventurous.
Instead of looking at tough situations as annoyances, get out your spirit of adventure. Put on your pirate costume and sail the choppy seas with a smile on your face and a "Hardy Har Har". Adventurousness will allow you to try new things you would have never thought possible, like cooking  homemade food if you've never stepped foot in the kitchen before, making things from scratch you'd always bought ready made, trying new funky ways of cooking things, like solar cooking and crock pot baking, trying out cloth diapering, or taking a bicycle on some errands instead of cars. Looking at things as an adventure instead of an arduous task puts fun into life and saves you loads!

Be Willing to Prioritize.
You must decide where your priorities lie. What things are truly important and at the top of your list? Make sure that your actions show what your values are and what things mean a lot to you. You don't want to be spending money on nonsense and not have money for things that really count, do you? When you prioritize and designate money for the important stuff, you'll help yourself out a lot financially and be able to get a better grip on your finances.

Be Willing to Cut Back
Yes, we all have had a time come where we really wanted something but there just wasn't money to get it. In such a situation, better say "No, I don't need that, even if I really do want it". If there isn't money, needs must come first and yes, you may need to cut out some luxuries you want. You can't have everything, all the time. Come to terms with that and you'll be a lot happier than if you always pine away for the impossible.

Be Patient. 
Good things come to those who wait, especially bargains and sales. Delayed gratification is an important trait for life, but especially for frugal people. If you hold on to your hats a little bit longer, you may end up not even needing to cut back on the things you want and still be able to afford it. All it takes is a bit of patience.

Be Nice.
What goes around comes about and it's likely to save you some money. When you do favors for others, they're often willing to help you out in return. This being part of a community will help you in many ways, financial being only one of them. Also karma. If you're a good person, goodness and abundance will fall into your lap, so just be nice.

Yes, it is not so easy to just pick up these attitudes in a heartbeat. But just working on one at a time can make a big difference in your life, allowing you to be a happier person, more content with your lot in life, and allow yourself to cut back in many ways without causing problems.

What attitudes do you think are important for being frugal? Do you agree or disagree with my list? Which of these things are hardest for you?

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