Step 1: Stop Buying Stuff
The most important decision you can make today is to stop buying stuff. Don't go crazy and starve your family- I mean stop buying new furniture, new rugs, new cars, new clothes, new books and magazines. When you've gotten that far, stop buying used furniture, used rugs, used cars, used clothes, used books and magazines. Just stop using shopping as a pastime.
Take time to use, appreciate, and take care of the stuff that you do have. Buying stuff is what keeps you in bondage to "needing" so much money.
Step 2: Make Replacements Instead of "Cutting Back"
Look at different aspects of your current lifestyle and monitor them for efficiency and effectiveness. Most people automatically try to "cut back" when maybe they only need to replace some things. Here are some examples of replacements I have made in my own life.
1. Started reading educational books instead of novels.
2. Riding my bike for fun instead of shopping at thrift stores.
3. Using a meal plan instead of going to Kroger several times per week.
4. Quit my part time job and freed up time to save money by growing vegetables raising chickens and other frugal stuff. Not having a second car and commute was a huge savings in itself.
When someone says, "Yeah, we really need to cut back on spending," does that sound fun? Of course not! Focusing on the negative is always depressing. Instead we need to focus on replacing fun spendthrift things with fun frugal things. Spendthrift food with equally good (or better) frugal food. Spendthrift clothing with frugal clothing. Spendthrift habits (like leaving the lights on) with frugal habits (like turning the lights off).
Long Term Frugality = Long Term Security
To the average American, more money means a better lifestyle. For me, it is more SKILLS that make a better lifestyle. As I acquire skills (and USE them, don't just sit on them!) I automatically save and/or make money, which becomes less and less of a concern in my life.
A frugal lifestyle makes me feel secure. If Hubs and I should ever run on hard times, I know that I can eat well, have fun and keep on learning new things without a lot of money. I know that my quality of life would not suffer much if we really were poor.
Does being frugal give you a sense of security or a sense of poverty? Why?