When I think of being frugal I think of living economically. It is being mindfully aware of all my daily actions so as not to create unnecessary waste. I think of simple living, reducing costs and streamlining my home and business.
We live in a society that creates waste in increasing amounts. We upgrade all the time — whether it is our clothes, or our appliances, or our electronic equipment. Whatever it is, most things are no longer created to endure time and wear, as the assumption is that most people will replace it before it breaks. And some people have come to the attitude that if it breaks, they’ll just buy a new one anyway.
Therefore we are living in a very disposable age. The problem with disposing and replacing is that we generate more and more waste in manufacturing, transporting, retailing and eliminating of products. To me this is the opposite of frugal living.
Waste occurs not only with our material possessions, but we also waste with time, money, food and even our relationships.
Why? Why have we departed so far from living a frugal life to the point that we live such wasteful lives?
I don’t know have the answer to that question, but maybe it has something to do with not being grateful and content with what we already have.
“There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have….But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss.”
~Anthony de Mello
“Use what talents you possess; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.”
~Henry Van Dyke
Why do we waste our own skill resources, why do we waste what we have been naturally blessed with?
We all have capabilities and talents. We all have the capacity to act and to do more. How many of us allow our simple abilities to remain undeveloped? What is the point of a light if it doesn’t shine in the dark, what is the point of a battery if you don’t use it to power something? What is the point of being able to walk and run if we just sit and drive everywhere?
Simply changing our focus to be more active has an effect in every aspect of our daily life. It could mean that we cook more meals using fresh food rather than buying pre-packaged processed foods. If we were more active in exercising we would spend less time and money pursuing diets. If we were to be more active in helping others and looking after our own health, then we could be stronger, fitter and healthier.
If we were to develop some of the talents that we have, then our lives would be spent more on action rather than just consumption.
“A child’s appetite for new toys appeal to the desire for ownership and appropriation: the appeal of toys comes to lie not in their use but in their status as possessions.”
So much of consumption is driven by the desire to have something that someone else has. This is envy. Once upon a time consumption was determined by needs, but nowadays it is determined by desires.
What is the point of buying needlessly when you could be contributing to someone who does not have the essentials for daily living? While we debate with ourselves whether we really need another pair of shoes, there are people dying from starvation and preventable illnesses around the world every moment.
Do we really need a new car? Do I really need this donut? Ask yourself when you go to buy something next time “Do I really need this?”
Just because an item is on sale doesn’t mean that you are saving by buying it. You save when you don’t buy it. How many clothes do we really need? Obviously if our clothes are in tatters, torn, stained and look dirty, then it might be time to replace. But what if a button has fallen off or the hem has become unstitched, well you don’t need to throw away something that you can simply repair yourself.
You might be thinking that you don’t know how to sew and mend clothes. Well guess what, it doesn’t have to be a perfect repair. I have stitched many a button back onto a shirt, and I was never shown how. I just bought the needles and cotton and figured it out.
If you don’t know how to do something then consider asking someone. In today’s “advanced” age you could probably even watch a You-Tube video on how to do it.
Life doesn’t have to be one big spending spree. I have learnt over the years that money doesn’t come easy. I have worked 3 jobs, managed a house, cooked almost every meal time and still found time to do things out with the family.
I am not blowing my own trumpet saying that I am a hard worker. No, my point is that hard work has taught me the value of money. It doesn’t come easy, so I have learnt not to let it be spent easy.
Buy less, look after what you have, maintain things — regularly service your car, clean and look after your tools and appliances. Save money by doing your own repairs when you can. If it’s too risky or dangerous then always call in the experts, but many simple repairs you can do yourself.
I had birds getting into the walls because they were nesting in the gutters — so I bought mesh and covered the gutters. The taps were dripping so I learnt how to change a tap washer and to do other simple repairs around the home. Learn the basic repairs and fix things yourself. Go to DIY sessions at your local hardware store if they offer them.
There are many ways to save money and doing your own minor repairs is definitely a money saver.
Borrow a tool from a neighbour or friend rather than buying your own and loan your tools to others so as to help them also.
Another area in which frugality and mindfulness play an important part is the area of time and relationships.
Life is always a balance and how we choose to balance our time impacts our outlook on life. If we spend less time consuming, we may find that our lives naturally become a little simpler and this will free up some time.
Consider computers at home as an example. Ok it may be nice to have your home all connected, all wired up so that you can connect all your televisions to your computers to the internet and then connect up the games consoles and the stereos, etc. Just remember though, that the more technology that you use, the more complicated it all becomes when things go wrong. And more things can go wrong and do. Also the more costly it is to run all of those items.
Quite quickly your time and money is stolen away.
Rather than consuming and connecting all this “unnecessary” electronic stuff, why not connect with people in person? Why not keep things simpler? Don’t waste your relationships — help each other out. If you have skills use them, don’t let them go to waste. If you can help out another person, even if it is something simple for you to do, then you might find that you have solved something that was a big deal for them.
You may even find out that they return the favour one day — this can also lead to a more frugal life when you are able to help each other.
Become more mindful of why you are actually doing the things that take up your time each day. Why am I doing this? Is your thinking in each activity in line with your dreams and goals?
Hopefully this encourages you to become more mindful of the life that you live. Be mindful, be frugal.
Life is full of opportunities each and every moment, we have but to take a chance.