If you are in sales, one of the first things you learned is to never identify your products or services as cheap. You can talk about the excellent value and huge savings. You might get away with speaking of discounts and bargains — though, even those words are somewhat suspect these days. What you would never suggest is that your product is cheap. That would be a firing offense. No one wants to buy something that is cheap. Moreover, no one wants to be called cheap, or to feel cheap. They want to feel smart, not cheap.
Being frugal is not about being cheap. It is about being smart with your money. It also isn’t about refusing to spend money, even a lot of money. Sometimes, you have to spend a lot of money. That is why you want to save a lot of money. You might just need it one day, and all at once. As the wise ones are fond of saying, it is better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. A frugal mindset helps you achieve that ideal state. Don’t be cheap. Be frugal. Here’s how:
At some point, everyone will find themselves a little short on money. As much as you would like to neither be a borrower or a lender, life requires you to do a little borrowing. Frugality applies here as well. That’s where a secured personal loan comes in handy. You can use it like a rainy-day fund. Not only will you have it when you need it, you will avoid usurious interest that transforms a loan into a trap. To avoid the loan traps, you have to borrow what you know you will be able to pay back, borrow only from reputable sources, and borrow no more than what you need to get back on your feet.
You might think that frugal people don’t borrow money. That isn’t true. It is just that frugal people borrow wisely and for the right reasons. One of those right reasons is to make money. You might need some startup capital for a business opportunity. To refrain from borrowing would just be cheap. To borrow and profit is a smart use of borrowing. It is not wise to refrain from borrowing when you need the money.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Emotion is the enemy of all budgets. The moment you decide that you really, really want to have something is the moment you should force yourself to back away from the 1-Click purchase button. This even applies to something like a wedding. Start with the steps to a frugal engagement. That is not to say that you should strip away emotion from the biggest commitment of your life. But you have to be able to set the emotion aside at some point so that you can have a sober, clear-eyed view of exactly what it is you are getting into.
When you watch infomercials, your emotions are excited and your ability to reason carefully is a bit stunted. This is especially true if you are watching that infomercial too late at night when your brain is in the process of shutting down. The small hours of the morning are big hours for sales from TV commercials. Don’t allow your emotions to have access to your credit card. That is a sure recipe for both being rapidly deflated.
Spend Big When It Counts
The reason you save money is to have it when you need it. You just have to decide when it is the right time to be generous with your spending. At the end of your life, you don’t want the title for having saved the most money. You want the title for being the most generous person. You can be both frugal and generous at the same time. Remember, frugality is not about pinching pennies. It is about being smart with your money. Starting a college fund for your grandkids is smart. Helping an aging parent get into a good nursing facility is smart. Hiring good people at your company is smart – not cheap, but smart.
Cheap is never the goal. It is not how you want to see yourself, nor how you want to be seen by others. Be smart with your money by borrowing wisely, spending unemotionally, and being generous when it matters the most.