Frugality Tips – Practice Makes Perfect

This is a guest post written by Ross of Photo credit: Cliff1066

So I took a little trip to the mall the other day with my girlfriend and one of her friends. This was my first mistake. My second mistake was thinking I would tag along with them while they shopped for clothes and shoes and that it wouldn’t drive me insane.

Needless to say, it did drive me insane, so eventually I set off on my own in search of something to occupy myself with. I first headed to Game Stop, as I have to admit, I’m a pretty big video game nerd, but didn’t really stay too long. Next I headed to the bookstore, which was a little more rewarding, but I still didn’t feel all that fulfilled. Finally I headed to one or two other places not even worth mentioning until I admitted defeat and realized I was bored.

And I didn’t buy a single thing.

As I wandered around aimlessly waiting for my girlfriend to finish up, I started wondering why I hadn’t found anything to buy. I realized I was disappointed because I couldn’t find anything that excited me enough to spend money on. I certainly didn’t used to be like that. I used to find many things to get all worked up about that I just had to buy… so I would.

The difference nowadays is that I’ve spent the past few years practicing how to be frugal.

I know it sounds weird, that I’ve “practiced” being frugal, but I really feel that it’s something you have to work on to improve, just like exercising or practicing any other talent or hobby. I feel this way because I used to be quite the consumer of things I certainly didn’t need, and only over time have I been able to eliminate the “need” I used to feel to purchase these things.

Over time you simply get used to your new frugal lifestyle as well.

Tips on Practicing Frugality

  1. Eliminate and replace high-priced hobbies and habits: Every time I beat a video game or got bored with one, I used to go out and buy another one. This got pretty expensive, so I cut down the amount of games I bought and replaced them with the occasional $8 novel from the local Barnes and Noble. Consequently, I have 4 bookshelves now.
  2. Eliminate relationships based on commercial consumption: I used to have a rather different group of friends. These people thrived on going out every weekend and dropping lots of cash at the local bars and clubs. When they weren’t doing that it was spending money on weekend trips and expensive outdoor hobbies like boating and other motorsports. In fact, these people couldn’t have a good time if they weren’t spending money, drinking, or both. I don’t really see them too often anymore.
  3. Examine how you use what you buy: Part of the reason I don’t find much to get excited about buying anymore is because I realize how much use I actually get out of the things I buy. When it really comes down to it, the amount of money spent on something compared to exactly how many hours of use or entertainment I get out of it rarely seems worth it to me anymore. This is also why I canceled cable, I hardly ever watched it. Now Hulu is my friend.
  4. Convince your spouse or significant other to practice with you: Come up with cheaper hobbies that you and someone else can do together, like cooking a meal instead of going out, renting a movie instead of heading to the movie theater, or developing an interest in board games, more active games like charades, or one of those DVD games like Scene it.
  5. Stay away from commercial temptation: That whole phrase “out of sight, out of mind” works wonders. By staying away from the mall and other shopping centers, only going when you need specific things, and with a pre-made list, you’ll be less tempted to buy things you don’t need. Also, by limiting your exposure to advertisements (like those on cable, in magazines, or on the radio), the desire and impulse for these things almost disappears.

Go Be Rich is a blog written by a 24-year-old self-proclaimed nerd. This is no regular personal finance blog however; it’s a Personal Freedom blog. The mission of Go Be Rich is to aid those in the pursuit of getting out of debt, working for yourself, and living the life of your dreams. Follow Ross on Twitter at @GoBeRich.

About Brad Chaffee

9 Responses to “Frugality Tips – Practice Makes Perfect”

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  1. Cynthia Gottfredson says:

    Hi Brad:

    Thanks for this article, I felt the same way when three weeks ago, I was in the mall while waiting for my mother at the J.C. Penny hair stylist. I had in mind to find some nice slacks for work, (Other then Black ones) and couldn’t’ find anything. Not in J.C. Penny, nor Sears….. All of them were for weekend wear….. I did find a used book store that opened up in the mall and spend a total of $6.00 for three hard back books…. Last week I manage to go to Macy;s and found what I was looking for but again I spend $9.00 for myself and $80 for Mothers day…..simply put, I really don’t go to the Mall unless I really, Really Need something,…..

    Talk to you later…


  2. Brad Chaffee says:

    Oh Cynthia, you are going to LOVE my next article! LOL (It’s about Mother’s Day spending.) haha!

  3. I’m from Minnesota. From my driveway to that wretched place in the picture is a about 80 miles. I can get there in a little more than an hour. Nothing…and I mean NOTHING strikes fear and panic into my soul than the phrase, “What do you think about going to the the Mall Of America this weekend?” My son wants to go to the Lego store, my daughter wants to visit the American Girl Store, the kids beg for rides in the amusement park in the center, and my wife…well….let’s just say her eyes glaze over with all the possibilities.

    It’s a man on a budget’s nightmare. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sleep tonight. 🙂

  4. Wow Travis, wish I could say I understand how rough that would be. All I have to deal with is the girlfriend… suddenly a night out and some flowers don’t seem too bad.

  5. Meghan Nicole says:

    It can get costly hanging out with friends that thrive on spending money, especially when they don’t pay you back. I’ve been using for all my shared expenses with friends. Now I don’t have to worry about my friends owing me money or the awkward confrontation that comes with it.

  6. Shannyn says:

    It’s amazing, I was at Barnes and Noble for a book signing with my favorite author yesterday- I got the book for cheap since I had a gift card from Christmas (otherwise, buying a hardcover book to participate wasn’t really my thing!) it was amazing…even when waiting in line for an hour, waiting through all those stacks of books, games and cool things I wasn’t even tempted.

    If you would have put me in B&N two years ago? I would have purchased books I only had the intentions of reading. Now I go to the library to get whatever I want (yay for reserves and Interlibrary Loan!) even the bestsellers! The allure of a fresh paperback doesn’t have the pull it used to and I read more than ever! I wasn’t at all excited, in fact the idea of spending $8-$25 on a book that I may not want to keep (even with reselling it, what a hassle) was more of a turn off!

    It’s not like I flipped a switch, it took some prioritizing, a few painful mistakes, but the road to frugality has left me a changed woman. I left B&N with a cool personalized note from one of my fave authors and a new experience of meeting her…but what I did not experience was the “pull” or excitement of being in a store that used to make me salivate… I’d say it was a good night!

  7. Derek Sine says: allows Roommates to manage and split bills saving everyone a ton of time and money!

  8. Margaret says:

    Having recently found my way out of a dark walk through the debt forest, I am enjoying my life of frugality and the happiness it brings. I actually feel better. I am not a miser and I am not rich. I had to go to the mall last week for one item and couldn’t wait to leave. I felt like I was under a spell. Believe me, I used to be at the mall four to five times a week.
    Two weeks ago, my daughter found a three dollars off movie coupon on an M&M’s wrapper. With our coupons and my discount at a matinee, her ticket was $6.50, mine was $5.00, and we saw “Horrible Bosses” on it’s opening weekend. We took our dollar store candy and ate lunch before we went and had a great afternoon. Otherwise we do On Demand or Redbox.
    This weekend I went into our local thrift store and bought a very pretty like-new top, casual for work, for $4.00 and two books for 2.75. Otherwise I get my books and CD’s from the library. I can always find something. If I visit Barnes and Noble, I write down books I might want to read and put them on my wish list. If I want a single I will purchase an occasional song for my ITunes.
    For July 4th, Philadelphia has a 2 week ‘Welcome America’ festival. We went to one of the events a free concert by Aaron Neville with food served by local restaurants (about $5.00 per person) and a huge fireworks display and we had one of the most enjoyable experiences this summer. The concert was great. We look forward to next year.
    I try to be thrifty and also enjoy and have fun.
    Also, if someone invites me somewhere and I can’t swing it financially, I tell them so. A $25 or $30 (or more) ticket to an event is not doable for me now. There was a recent local show that I really wanted to see but I couldn’t afford the $50.00 ticket. I was bummed but a week later someone streamed it on the club’s website so it all works out in the end. We also went to a free art show featuring a small Andy Warhol exhibit and an extraordinary exhibit by Sheila Hicks at a small art institute.
    I am lucky to have a job in this economy. I have my health and my health insurance is good. Two people I know are laid off. The economy will not recover with my spending habits but I can sleep at night. Just watched ‘Inside Job’ yesterday (On Demand, of course) and those greedbags could use a few lessons in frugality.

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