I’ve been engaged in the world frugality for years now. I’ve had proto anti-consumerist ideas during high school, and it helped flesh out a frugal philosophy for myself. So, after distilling the commonality of many of the tips and tricks of the world of frugality, I have come up with a list of basic principles. These are high-level principles, but keeping them n the heart of your frugal codex can make you better at frugality; these are the Frugal Nexus’s list of frugal principles.
This is a big one folks. Frugality is basically a type of diet. Weight loss diets are ultimately reducible to calories in, calories out, frugality is a strict sense is concerned with the relationship between money in and money out. It’s great we can talk about saving money, getting the best deals, extracting the most values, but to actually do it requires discipline. To lock away your wallet, to stop eating out, to stop impulse buying things takes effort and discipline. Without the muscle behind your frugal views your efforts to be frugal will be wasted.
Look folks, for best success you have to be organized. Frugality requires planning (e.g., the foresight to cook your lunch before you go to work), it can mean being organized in your house (e.g., being able to find your tools so you’re not out buying new tools). For proper budgeting, you will need to hang onto your receipts. Being organized helps in so many ways, not with just frugality but with everything. Organization takes discipline, but helps save time and money in the long run. Be organized folks.
You have to say no. This ties into discipline. If you’ve been bad with your finances, it could be due to the inability to say no. We all have reptilian brains that always encourage us to do things that in the long term are not in our best interest. But you have to learn to say no.
You must ask yourself why you are doing what you are doing. Ask yourself why you are sitting on Amazon with a cart full of glow sticks. Ask yourself why that is, do you really need it. Being frugal is largely a behavioural matter. Have the insight into your behaviour. After you ask yourself questions and answer them with honesty, you can employ tools to help track your journey. Budgeting: I know lots of people hate budgeting. They keep a running tally in their head. But you need insight to your behaviour. Fortunately, we live in a day in age where you can easily analyze your habits pretty easily. You can view your bank statements at any time on the internet. Get into a habit of doing it and actually read it. See and feel your money output. Knowing your behaviour helps you correct it in the future, otherwise you’ll be blind.
Another word for this principle: have no corporate loyalty. Brands grew as a cognitive table of contents to help us make choices about what to buy. We should always strive to be best informed about products, I’m sure people across the spectrum can chime in on brands that they thought represented quality came out with a product that was junk. Always consider your alternatives. Consider a null option too. Ask yourself, consider X, Y but also consider not doing it.
6. Be Proactive
People have had many quotes about life, “life is 90 percent of things that happen to you and the last ten percent is how you respond to it”, etc. To be frugal you have to get up and in front of your lizard brain and prepare for the uncertain tomorrow. This could be as simple as having a well endowed emergency savings account, or paying off student loans. I keep using the phrase at work and in my personal life, “we should do X while in peace time, before shit hits the fan”. I like using the phrase peace time, but we spend lots of times with a relative calm, perhaps not an absolute calm, perhaps not a situation where all our daemons are slayed, but we have a bit of down time where we have the flexibility to prepare: take advantage of it because who knows what tomorrow brings. A precarious nation should train and equip its army before the Soviets are at the door step. You should have a dash cam just in case someone drifts out of their lane and smashes your car. Or probably the most relevant non-analogy to this case: you should save your money NOW before you get laid off.
I always say this, or at least, I think of many good opportunities to say this but I never do, I usually say this as part of my inner voice as trying to cross examine why Bobby Gilberts did this or that.
When you are alone at night, in your bed or floor, or sleeping bag – maybe you’re sleeping next to your partner or maybe you are alone. But anyways, at some level you are alone. No matter the intimacy of your partner, in your impenetrable pit of consciousness you are alone; a king of a kingdom with a population of 1: you. You can use your impressive arsenal of language to detail your inner voice, describe the vast neural tombs of knowledge, events past. But there is no way to share this space. At best you are an explorer who has access to a portal which only you have access to. Your spouse could never walk into this place and see what it’s like to be you – conversely you can never work into your partner’s space. It is in the moments of intractable loneliness; you can revel in the naked truth of your actions; alone in your head you have to live with your decision. It is so that you are responsible, ultimately. Life presents unfortunate calamities, misfortunes and cruel randomness, to live authentically you must carefully grasps your ability to make decisions and be responsible for this.
Another narrative I like to proliferate:
On your death bed (if you’re lucky enough to have one, and not have your life randomly cut quickly), you will be flush with the sum of your existence; a balance of things you did and didn’t do. it’s perhaps in this moment you can have the clarity to look and back with sincere honesty, if you’ve been living authentically hopefully you can look back with a warm smile and said you had a good one – hopefully not look back with a head full of sorrow on all the time you wasted, all the poor decisions you made.
From top down life rattling decisions, to banal encounters in the grocery store – you are responsible. Understand this, embrace it, live your life, fulfill yourself as a person.
As an aside, I don’t like telling people to scribble any words out of their dictionary (or in this case a phrase), but I would suggest scribbling out the phrase “I had no choice”. You always have a choice, it might not be a great alternative but there is always a choice. It’s with this, I like to steal Satre’s example: say you are climbing a mountain but the trail is blocked. You turn back and most people would be tempted to say “I had no choice” – but of course you had a choice. You could have jumped off the mountain. You might not consider it a good choice, but it’s a choice. You must not submit to being an object in the world, instead you are an agent, you act upon other things. Yes, we are materially bound, you can hope to jump off the side of the Empire State building screaming, damn it I can fly. While air rushes past you, and tears spill out of your eyes, you are ultimately bound to the fact that you cannot fly. You will briefly learn to live with the consequences of your actions as you splat against the ground.
You can always do your best to over come your lizard brain and choose your reactions to events (see principle 5).
Set goals. It’s up to you to set them. After looking at your spending you might decide that your constant eating out needs to be cut down, you might decide you want a house. You might want to pay off your student loans. It’s best to make a goal, set your up tracking, and work towards it. Goals are best kept when they have measurable outcomes, just saying “I want to save more money” is a poor goal, but saying “I want to save an extra $500 a month” is a better goal.