Are you frugal or a spender? And do you accidentally or deliberately spend and save?
You hear all the time about how consumer driven our society is. And with £77bn spent on Christmas in the UK alone, it is hard to deny. Being frugal can feel like something we have to try really damn hard at. Spending, on the other hand? Easy peasy!
When you’re balancing a tight budget, trying to save for a deposit on a house or towards retirement, or just trying not to add to the amount of crap you already own, it feels like hard work to be frugal and stop spending. We pay for convenience, so it’s no wonder.
It’s quite possible that you’re already accidentally frugal in lots of ways. I’ve been racking my brains over the last week to work out where I’m accidentally frugal, accidentally spendy, deliberately frugal and deliberately spendy. Here’s what I came up with…
I rarely wear make up or have manicures. It’s not a deliberate choice, it just never seemed important.
I enjoy getting my cost per wear or use down on the things I own, it’s like a fun game. Why and how could I feel happy about spending £100 on a dress worn once, especially since when I spend that amount of money, it is on something that makes me feel a million dollars?
Water in a bottle. I love this naturally frugal way because it used to be something I did to be deliberately frugal. Several years of doing something deliberate and I’d nearly forgot I do it. Pretty much wherever I go, I’ll throw a sports bottle of water into my bag. Handy if I ever need to take a tablet too!
I don’t like clutter. Clutter is something that I’ve probably put up with whilst having the space to hide it away. But when you’ve used all your hiding places, it becomes all to obvious. I admit I have a long way to go with decluttering. However, I can’t help but think ‘where will I put this’ whenever I’m purchasing something. It’s a great way to spend less!
I assume things will last a long time. When I was growing up, things lasted a long time. I have no desire to buy a vacuum cleaner or a washing machine and be repurchasing 2 years down the line. My sofa was allegedley built to last 5 years. Well, we’re in year 6 and, as any normal person might expect, it still works as a sofa. I don’t see what could change anytime soon.
Batch cooking. I know this will save time and money in the long run. However, in the moment you are doing it, it takes more time and generally creates more mess to clean up. Which is a pain when you just want to cook and eat something. I do batch cook now and then, but it’s a deliberate effort.
Wrapping in a blanket when it’s cold. Now this bit isn’t deliberate… But keeping the heating off definitely is!
Food shopping with a list. Although it doesn’t take much effort to write the list, it only takes a couple of weeks without a list to get out of the habit and wing a load of random stuff in the trolley. If you don’t already, you definitely need to. Which brings me on to…
Meal planning. Again, it’s quite quick and easy when you’re in the habit. But it’s even easier to be lazy and just jump in the car on your way to the shops. I’m stupid enough to go shopping without a meal plan or shopping list but come home feeling chuffed that I saved 30p taking my own bags. A good example of being penny wise and pound foolish
Insurance renewal. It always amazes me how much we save every year just by shopping around for insurance. I’m happy to spend a boring hour to save £50 personally!
Food shopping without a list or when I’m hungry. Sometimes circumstances mean that you find yourself needing to shop without a list or when you’re hungry. In my experience, better planning would have prevented it. When you don’t have a list or shop when you’re hungry, it’s very easy to keep piling food in the trolley that you don’t really need.
Gifts. We have a category in our budget to cover Christmas and Birthday gifts, but sometimes I see something that I can’t help but buy, especially for my nieces!
I’m lazy where it comes to taking action to get better offers, like interest rates on my savings accounts, which amounts to being accidentally spendy.
Board games. We often buy board games for one another at Christmas and Birthdays, but will occassionally buy them during the year too. Whilst they often cost £30 to £40, we play as often as we can as a couple, with friends and with family. We find it a really cost effective hobby; once the game is bought, it provides hours of replay time and we do this rather than eating out or meeting friends in the pub!
High value items. If I’m buying something new, I don’t want to replace it every 12 months. We research any home items that we buy, such as the vacuum cleaner, camera and even our latest saucepan because we want to be happy with our purchase and not have to purchase again for as long as possible.
Travel. I love travel, I think most people do. I would much rather not have a single day trip, cinema visit, or meal out for a whole year if it means I have the money to travel instead. When I do so, I research thoroughly and plan where we want to spend our money and what’s important to us.
What have you learned about yourself?
Has this list made you realise you are more or less naturally frugal than you thought? I realised I am naturally more frugal than I’d given myself credit for in the past!