Last Updated on December 14, 2021
There’s always something that beckons us to open our wallets. We’ve all been taught the value of saving money, but how do we decide what is worth spending on, and when we should choose to put money away for the future instead?
So, what does it mean to be frugal?
Frugality means spending on what you need and not what you want. It is the conscious and continuous process of accumulating a surplus from what you earn, and growing that surplus in time through investments or interests. Being frugal is one of the main pillars of wealth building because a dollar saved is worth more down the line than a dollar earned.
Breaking free from consumerism
Frugality has taken a backseat today, largely as commercials and consumerism drive us to want more and more. It has been ingrained in us that we need to own more as a pathway to happiness: “I need the new iPhone to be happy,” or “The day I buy my grail watch, I will be happy.”
Spending less is seen as contributing to overall misery. The irony, of course, is that chasing this cycle only feels empty and inadequate. Kickstarting the habit of frugality might lead you to feel happier and content with the things you truly need and not want.
But being clear on your spending priorities is what will make or break your ability to reach financial freedom. While it’s okay to get that daily cuppa, there’s a way to lay out what’s a need, and what’s a want.
Mobile phone plans
You want that shiny new mobile phone. And the operator is dangling it at a huge discount, but with a pricier contract.
Do the math. Is it more economical for you to pay more for the phone up front, but spend less on your phone plan every month? Would you even use all the features of this ‘upgraded’ plan?
Chances are, paying more for the phone is more ‘frugal’ compared to paying more for the mobile price plan, while locked into a two-year contract for it.
With a plethora of options, it can be dizzying to compare prices. First things first, decide if you want to pay a flat fee for your consumption. There are price plans out there that charge by the average consumption at that time. Think of electricity prices as stocks—when demand is low, the price is low, and vice-versa.
Gym membership? Check.
Question is, do you really need ALL of them? $10 here, $15 there adds up, slowly but surely. Over the course of the year, you can potentially save a couple of hundred dollars by simply choosing the plans that you really need.
While you’re looking over your plans, you could also take a look at big ticket loans such as mortgage, car or personal loans. You could get savings if you refinance some loans for more competitive interest rates. Plus, you might even get freebies and other perks for refinancing.
Take some time to workout the math and make calls to the relevant subscription providers. This is a pretty low hanging fruit that we need to reach for regularly.
Pro tip: Use Planner Bee’s app to chart your monthly expenses. From there, see where you can afford to be frugal and save on!
Save, and earn
With the savings on all the different bills you’ve cut costs on, you can actually earn more money investing that amount through compounding interest.
In the world of investing, time is the most valuable commodity. Of course, earning a 5-figure sum is not going to happen overnight, but earning $100 more per month is easily achievable. How? You could consider turning your earnings into a passive income stream. That’s what happens with dividend paying stocks and investments.
Find out more about passive investing through the Planner Bee app
On the other end of the spectrum, you could start a side hustle and earn more money. Think about it, there is no upper limit to how much you can make. The only limit is what you set for yourself and whether you have the bandwidth to take on more. Consider looking online for freelance work. There are limitless ways to earn extra money.
Is being frugal worth it?
This comes with experience. Having established that time is your most valuable commodity,
you have to figure out when it makes sense to be frugal, or when it makes sense to earn more.
It is a simple case of weighing your opportunity cost.
Amount Saved < Potential Amount Earned → Choice to not be frugal
Amount Saved > Potential Amount Earned → Consider being frugal
Amount Saved = Cost savings achieved by being frugal
Potential Amount Earned = Amount you could have earned in the same amount of time, work, and effort
Of course, this is a simple estimate. The final decision ultimately comes down to an individual and their unique needs.
Striking the right balance
Think of frugality as a good habit to inculcate and a tool to balance with other financial tactics like investing and earning more.
Building your financial reserve is an ongoing journey that’s fraught with unexpected curveballs. But being frugal is a great tactic to shore up your defences against tough times. Adopt the right mindset and you will eventually achieve your financial goals.