Frugalisation is the process of becoming truly frugal on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. It is about learning a new art form, possibly even a new way of life, and taking that forward so you can become a habitual frugal living aficionado.
This is no frills, text only reading for the seriously wannabe frugal living expert.
It is is a fairly lengthy process, so requires several posts and an in-depth look at how the process of frugalisation can impact on so many lives. For some, it doesn't always paint a pretty picture so they give up too soon. Life isn't a bed of roses nor does money grown on trees - or does it?
For the benefit of doubt, being frugal does not necessarily mean you are poor, deprived, underprivileged or subjecting yourself to some form of self-imposed poverty, it simply means that you have chosen not to be wasteful. For many, frugality usually occurs for long enough to help get them back on track, correcting failing finances, but for some it is a life-altering experience from which there is no return. We love it here in Frugaldom - it provides us with the freedom to be frugal and to enjoy work and home life exactly as we choose!
Some people have austerity thrust upon them by circumstances beyond their control (illness, sudden loss of income etc.) and some find that a bit of thriftiness helps them to make ends meet in the household budget. For others, the act of frugal living provides an escape from a seemingly endless downward spiral into unsustainable debt.
Most people who cut back a bit on spending, bin less or look for bargains will class themselves as being frugal, with some seeing it as a temporary measure until the financial problems have been resolved, but that isn't really what I would call true frugality. The process of frugalisation is a lengthy one and it eventually becomes an entire lifestyle from which few true frugalers leave - regardless of how wealthy they may become over time.
Should you find yourself in the unenviable position of being skint, having been struck down by poverty, homelessness, debilitating illness or even just spending more than you are earning, then urgent action is needed and that's where the first major choices need to be made: are you prepared to make personal sacrifices and have you got what it takes to make changes in the lives of those around you for whom you are responsible?
We all need to start somewhere and I well remember coming through the process of frugalisation myself. I'm glad I did it and have no intentions of returning to where I once was.
In the beginning, we all think we know what's best for us and how we spend our own money. We inadvertently fail to see the bigger picture where our actions and reactions impart on our fellow human beings - friends, family and hose around us. Our spending habits during our active lifetime are what make our futures secure or otherwise. Yes, luck can play its part - some win fortunes or land lucky deals but only the wise and the frugal hold onto their wealth and accumulate further financial security. As we all know, a fool and his money are soon parted.
A prime example of when (or why) to start the frugalisation process is as you first realise that bills are mounting and income is stretched to the limit just covering all the out-goings. By the end of the month there may be no money left and then something like Christmas comes along, or a birth, death or marriage that can bring about unexpected costs. Into overdraft, catch up next month! Only problem is that the next month of catch-up never comes and the chore of earning sufficient income to maintain current standards begins to take its toll - anxiety, stress and more worry. As is so often the case, the result can be a further increase in spending in a bid to feel better and more in control, or else the inevitable drop in income when it all goes pear-shaped and we can't bring ourselves to face another day of the same grind. This is normal for many. Battle on, perhaps develop other interests in a vain attempt to avert attention from a personal crisis, but it seldom resolves the problem of going broke or becoming ill in the process.
Frugal living - I need to make it sound like fun without the need for money. I wish I could, but during the initial stages of the process, it can become very difficult, upsetting and annoying. Everyone else seems to think they know better and suggests a million different ways of saving money. Yes, we get it, buying cheap brands costs less and growing your own fruit, vegetables and herbs saves buying them but get a grip, people, we all can't just traipse out into a fertile garden, scatter some seeds and suddenly grow our own food without incurring costs. It takes time and preparation - buying compost, pots and gardening implements is NOT frugal while you are fighting debts. Nor is getting a couple of hens for 'free eggs' or rushing out to buy all the kitchen accoutrements essential for making your own pies, jams, pickles and preserves. This is a step-by-step, penny-by-penny process that takes time, patience and basic arithmetic. A budget isn't what you think you may need it is exactly what you have to work with in the first place and every spend has to work into that figure.
Learning the difference between needs and wants is paramount to success - NO LUXURIES ALLOWED - these are a waste of money while it's in short supply. Once you are fully solvent you can reappraise your budget and your priorities list. We all need to eat and drink but we don't need fast food, takeaways, prime beef, exotic fruit and vegetables, alcohol or tobacco products. We don't need crisps, chocolate, sweets, cakes or biscuits. We don't need sugar-frosted breakfast cereals when porridge oats are 75p per kilo and our clothes don't need designer labels. We all like to give gifts but we don't need to spend money on them - you can spend time and effort, see how much others appreciate that! If they don't, then it's their problem, not yours.
We can do this, it's easy... for as long as we stay away from the shops and cut ourselves off from civilisation! But that surely cannot be good, can it? No more nights out, no more entertaining, no more fripperies?
Save the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves.
Waste not, want not.
A stitch in time saves nine.
There are any number of thrifty and money saving anecdotes and all are true, but there is always a 'but'.
Somewhere down the line, as you subject yourself to the trauma of constantly saying no to yourself and anyone who even suggests unnecessary spending, you will find yourself in the position of having to justify your non-spending. It happens often - even your closest friends and family can make the allegations of your being mean and tight-fisted. They don't understand your predicament, they may not want to understand it and some are offended by it - on the whole, they are mystified as to how you can say no and spend so little appear happy with your lifestyle. Some may even be jealous of your contented outlook, ability to control your own spending, pay off debts and increase your own financial security! Whatever way you discover this, be warned - you will find yourself doubting your own ways and means at some stage and you will ask yourself why you can’t just make this one exception to the rule and treat yourself to a, b or c. Stay strong, this is where you have the backup of fellow frugalers in the likes of the Frugal Forums or chat room – help or support is never far away in the land of Frugaldom.
This fabulously frugal new lifestyle, especially when your income is self-generated through hard work and commitment, isn't for everyone. There will be times when you will look at the way you are living through the eyes of others and waiver on the brink of temptation to abort your mission and go on a spending spree. 'Why not?' you will ask yourself - you worked for it and everyone else seems to manage to have fun, so why shouldn't you? Why shouldn't you treat yourself to something 'nice' or why shouldn't you go and do whatever others have tempted you into doing? Do not be swayed! Do not be led into temptation to break your non-spending rule before it has even become an established pattern in your newly chosen lifestyle. Yes, you do have the choice - it is yours to make, but the process of frugalisation has been broken at the point that you break that promise to yourself to stand firm against previous financial transgressions and put right mistakes from the past - even if you haven't accepted responsibility or apportioned blame elsewhere.
Accepting that mistakes were made in the first place is definitely a sure fire sign that the frugalisation process is well underway. After such a trauma - come on, it's a bit of a shock actually looking at the bigger picture and realising what a fool you may have been with your money - the choice to proceed to habitualisation is yours and yours alone, otherwise you're just playing at being frugal until you get back on your feet and back onto the familiar old path of spending as you earn.
In part 2, we'll look at how frugal you think you already are - then show you how non-frugal that really is. In the meantime, please feel free to join us in the Frugal Forums where we enjoy one another's online company during our mundane, day-to-day routines of not over-spending or wasting time, effort and money.