You've probably heard of Ebeneezer Scrooge, the curmudgeonly old man who stars in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Scrooge is memorable for his cruel treatment towards his peers, but one could argue that he didn't treat himself much better. Scrooge amassed a healthy fortune, yet he kept his office at freezing temperature. His house was dark and dreary. He ate gruel instead of something tasty. He kept backbreaking work hours, never allowing himself to truly rest. Scrooge sacrificed his relationships and personal comfort in the name of money that he was never going to enjoy. I can't think of a better example of a person who blew right past frugal living and straight into being miserly.
Frugal living is a great way to build your wealth, but that doesn't mean enduring life with endless sacrifices and no joy. Once you've learned how to budget, you have your debt paid down to a manageable amount, and you have built up an emergency fund, then surely it's okay to enjoy some of that wealth. Of course, you should be mindful with your money, even when it's discretionary spending on the things you want rather than what you need. There are many ways to consciously spend your money for a better life. Let me show you a few examples.
Spend on upgrades
An upgrade generally improves upon what you already have or find a better replacement. Are you an avid camper? Maybe you could use a bigger tent and stretch yourself out at night. Do you enjoy cooking gourmet meals? Maybe your knives would benefit from a professional sharpening service. Is your laptop running slow, running erratically, and out of warranty? Then maybe it's time to end the frustration by upgrading to a newer model. Investing in a few upgrades can enhance frugal living by making your life easier and more comfortable.
Pay to free up your time
No one gets excited about doing chores. They suck up our time and energy endlessly. It makes sense to recapture that time by hiring someone else to get the job done if it's affordable. If you dread mowing the lawn, pay someone else to do it. If you struggle to stay on top of the cleaning, then a housekeeper might be just what you need. Better yet, hire a professional regularly, and that's one less thing that you'll have to carry on your mental load. Part of frugal living is understanding that your time is a precious commodity that you'll never get back. Imagine yourself using those extra hours to play more with your kids, take longer walks with your pets, read a good book in a quiet nook, or engage in a hobby. It means more time to relax and replenish yourself for more productive days ahead.
Invest in a fun hobby
When was the last time that you learned something new just for fun? Hobbies are great for relieving stress, bringing people together, and keeping yourself mentally and physically active. Perhaps your current hobbies need some new gear to help you better enjoy them. Would you like to learn something completely new instead? Gardening, cycling, fishing, golfing, journaling, baking, crafting, metalworking - the possibilities are endless! Some hobbies are more expensive than others, but they often return more than they take. And hey, maybe this new hobby will turn into a new side business someday! Investing in hobbies improves your mental health and opens up new chances. You never know, right?
Treat yourself to a gift
Sometimes all you crave is a little reward to keep you going on the right track. Whether it's a bottle of designer perfume, a sleek watch, or a new set of kicks, treating yourself to something that makes you feel powerful and boosts your self-confidence can change your whole outlook. Sometimes that is how ideas and good news come to you!
Be generous with others
Have your kids been helpful lately? Surprise them with a treat. Has your spouse just completed a difficult project at work? Then sweep them away for a nice meal out. Maybe you could spring for something that your whole family will enjoy, like tickets to a concert. It will make your day to see how happy you've made them just by sharing your wealth. You can extend such kind gestures to your surrounding community too. It can be as simple as sending supplies to a teacher or as complicated as fundraising for a new municipal building. Donating to the causes that you support is equally beautiful. If you've adopted a dog, then maybe animal welfare is your thing. If cancer runs in your family, then perhaps you'd like to donate towards finding a cure. Frugal living embraces the idea of showing generosity towards others, which leads to a greater sense of purpose in life and enhances community spirit.
Remember that wealth is meant to be enjoyed
Do you panic at the idea of spending money on things that you want rather than just the things that you need? Relax! You're still a frugal person. All those characteristics that helped you get to this point are still part of who you are. You know how to get the best value for your buck. You'll shop during the off-season when things are at their lowest price, you'll get a few quotes before outsourcing your chores, you'll check coupon sites for discount codes, and you'll scour sites like Groupon to find the best deal. You even know that spending a little more upfront often means that you will save money in the long run. You have proven to yourself that you're disciplined with money. But what's the point of accumulating all that wealth if you aren't going to enjoy it? A purchase that will enrich your life in some way is money well spent. Frugal living is all about balance, and you can nail that down too!
Thankfully, A Christmas Carol ends on a happy note as Ebenezer Scrooge takes a turn for the better. He is finally able to enjoy his life, share with others, and build fulfilling relationships. And that's good because frugal living isn't about limiting yourself, your potential, and your choices by hoarding money. Instead, it's about being strategic with your finances so that you can enjoy the things that enrich your life. With the right balance, frugal living is a rewarding lifestyle!