It's hard to gain contentment, especially when you exist in a consumerist-driven and credit-based society we have today. You tend to get lost in all misleading glitters of life and buy instant happiness with borrowed money today and worry tomorrow about your little savings, piling up credit card balances, and anticipated bills.
American author and financial advisor Suze Orman once said, "Just because you can afford it doesn't mean you should buy it." Living below your means in a world where "more is more" isn't easy but never impossible. In fact, several successful individuals still kept their frugal lifestyle despite their overwhelming wealth.
Change doesn't take place overnight. You have to embrace it and apply it in your everyday life. If you have decided to live below your means, these eight steps may take you forward.
1. Keep your home modest
It is normal for working adults to aspire for a large, grandiose mansion after a few years of hard labor. However, if the process of having the house of your dreams makes you suffer in a financial crisis and kills that little amount of contentment and happiness in you, then the home is not worth the investment.
The best example here is the house of Warren Buffett. This man has a net worth of 63.3 billion and is considered as the most successful investor in the world. But despite his wealth, he still chooses to live in his modest home in Omaha, Nebraska, which he purchased for just $31,500 over 50 years ago.
2. Stop your demand for luxury items
Two dresses. Same color. Same fitting. Same level of comfort. But the price of the other is $1000 since it was made by a famous brand while the other one costs $25 since it was bought off the rack. At the end of the day, no one can tell the difference.
Instead of placing a huge emphasis on possessing luxury items, spend your money on other things that matter. Some billionaires including Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA and John Caudwell, founder of Phones 4U, wearing off the rack clothes instead of spending their wealth on designer clothes.
3. Ditch your car and take the public transportation
Fuel and car maintenance costs are culprits to frugal living. Not to mention those unexpected mishaps which often cause you to break your piggy bank to pay for repairs. To lessen these car-related costs, it might be a wiser choice to ride public transportation every once in a while. With cheap fares, opportunity to exercise, and zero expense on fuel, what more can you ask for?
Taking public transportation has nothing to do with looking underprivileged. In fact, some people with impressive net values such as Chuck Feeney, David Cheriton, and actor Keanu Reeves often get from point A to point B without the use of cars. These thrifty gentlemen could have used their helicopters in traveling but chose to walk, bike, or use public transportation.
4. Say "no" to vices
The more you consume vices, the more they consume you. Vices like gambling, smoking, and drinking might be gratifying at first but they can take your income down to the drain. For instance, an average smoker spends $6 per day for a single pack of cigarettes. That would be $42.00 per week, $180.00 per month, and $2,190.00 per year.
Aside from making you waste your money once you got addicted, these vices also pose some serious medical problems that might leave you drowning from medical expenses in the future. Smoking burns the heart and lungs. Alcohol poisons the liver. Gambling corrupts the brain.
5. Take the “easy way” mentality out of your system
Laziness - most of us is guilty of this. Just think about all the expenses paid for valet parking when you could've parked the car yourself, or those not-so-healthy fast food meals you purchased when you were too lazy to cook, or those shipping fees you chose to pay to have your package delivered. All these costs, whether big or little, harm your savings.
Instead of purchasing food outside, why not prepare your own meals? Budget not only your money but your time as well. Take time in doing your day-to-day activities without relying on the convenient yet costly options. You'll be surprised at how much you have saved at the end of the day.
6. Always aim for discounts and free stuff
Every time you shop, always hunt for a better deal. Compare prices. Wait for bargains. Collect coupons. Every penny, no matter how small that is, can help with your savings when skimping becomes a habit.
Some wealthy celebrities are still lovers of discounts and free stuff despite their net worth. For instance, Jennifer Lawrence still hunts bargains at the supermarket. Lady Gaga is still an avid fan of coupons. Tyra Banks claims to stock up on free hotel shower caps, soaps, and shampoos to use at home.
7. Don't let yourself fall into the pit of consumerism
In living frugally, settling for less is something to be proud of. Warren Buffet once said, "If you buy the things you don't need, soon you will have to sell the things you need." With this, it is important that you can defeat the tempting whispers of consumerism and manage your finances.
To help yourself curb your consumerism, plan ahead on where you put your money. Distinguish "necessities" from "wants." As much as possible, minimize your intake of advertisements. Limit your mall visits. Avoid spending much money on simple hangouts. Use cash instead of credit or debit cards. Try to find other ways that can make you happy without the use of money.
8. Redefine your definition of wealth
The main reason why some of us live beyond our means is we have no clear definition of what "being rich" is. Some merge wealth and success with the capability of possessing luxurious items or having several companies and assets.
The truth is behind the faces of these prominent individuals, is that unending pursuit of happiness. What's common among them? Most of them are living frugally despite their enormous net worth. Some of them even downsized their homes and possessions.
Why? Because wealth cannot be measured by the things you see. it has nothing to do with the size of the house you own or the price of the clothes you wear. It's about finding what will make you contented.
Like other young adults, Carmina Natividad also experiences struggles in saving money, yet she finds a way to become a responsible spender. She shares her views on money issues by being a daytime writer for Speedy Money , an Australian-based business, providing short-term borrowing solutions.