In the big picture, frugal living is the easy option.
It paints a reality of freedom, contentment and stress-free finances.
But day to day, it can feel that no matter how hard you rub those pennies together, you just can’t ignite that frugal spark.
Challenges to living frugally come from many directions. These challenges make it hard to stick to a budget and stay in financial control.
Here are some of the main challenges to living frugally.
It’s hardly surprising that temptation is usually the number one challenge to frugality. The call to buy is everywhere – not just in advertising and shopping centres, but there’s vending machines, online buying (anywhere, anytime thanks to smart phones), door to door sales, phone sales, fundraising catalogues at playgroup, Mr Whippy at the beach…
Saying no is easy. Saying no repeatedly, all day, every day is hard. Really hard.
Keeping up with the Jones’
Even when there are no immediate opportunities to buy, we can be tempted by what other people have, or more correctly, the lifestyle other people have.
What’s worse is when we look at ourselves through (what we think are) other people’s eyes. We perceive judgement, even when it isn’t there, and we spend in order to make a certain impression on people.
If you aren’t tempted to keep up, you may be spending money catching up. Coffee out. Drinks. Something special to wear while we’re out having drinks. Movies. Dinner…
Having friends can be expensive. Particularly if your friends aren’t frugal.
Then again, home life doesn’t always save you money either.
Kids can be expensive, even if you’re frugal. I’ve just been looking at kindergarten fees for next year…
So can partners if they’re not on the same page as you are when it comes to frugal living, as many of you commented when I posed the question to you on Facebook.
All your hard work can be blown in a single spontaneous spousal spending spree.
Now say that five times fast.
Fatigue is my number one challenge to frugal living, particular when it comes to cooking dinner at the end of a long day. We live three doors up from Dominoes Pizza. We can have a pizza on the table in under 10 minutes. No driving. No washing dishes.
But convenience costs money.
Frugal living is hands-on. You do a lot more work for the same outcome. Hang the washing or throw it in the dryer? Either way, the outcome is still the same. It takes a lot more energy (your energy!) to live frugally and fatigue is counter-productive.
Lack of organisation
At first glance, lack of time seems culprit for ditching frugality. In some cases this is true.
But more often the problem is lack of organisation.
When I am organised, I have dinner prepared early in the day. When I have the energy. That way, all I have to do is dish up when all I want to do is slink off and have a quiet cuppa in bed.
When I’m organised and that seems less and less these days.
Organisation is the panacea to spending money on conveniences.
Buying ethically, of course, isn’t bad. In fact, investing is high quality products rather than cheap rubbish is frugal. But it’s not always possible to stretch our budget as far as our good intentions.
Balance and compromise is the key when you want to buy ethically, but your budget says otherwise.
In the upcoming weeks I will look at each of these challenges and ways to overcome them.
What are your biggest challenges to living frugally?
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