What does frugality mean to you?
When we started paying off our debt, frugality meant limiting our spending to only the absolute necessities. We cut out all the extras: coffee, dinners at our favorite restaurant, new clothes, books, home decor, vacations. Instead, we used that money to pay off a big chunk of credit card debt.
In the process, we learned that stringent spending lockdowns work. They can be a very effective way to make a quick dent in your debt or build up your savings.
But we also realized that all-out frugality isn’t easy. After several months, our uncompromising approach started to feel suffocating and unsustainable.
So we modified our strategy to one I like to call selective frugality.
With selective frugality, you invest your time and money in the things and experiences you truly value. You set aside what society/social media/friends and family tell you that you should want and figure out what you care about, what makes you happy, and what adds value to your life.
For us, although we still limit our purchases and never buy things for the purpose of keeping up with the Joneses, we occasionally invest in a nice vacation, a good restaurant meal, and (because I live with tech geeks) new technology. Those investments make us happy. They’re worth it to us.
Taking a more compromised approach to frugality may mean that it takes a little longer to reach your financial goals, but it also encourages sustainable progress. More importantly, it allows you to enjoy your life in the moment, the importance of which we can’t underestimate.