We have all heard the saying that money can’t buy happiness. I’ve always thought that I sure would like to give that theory a test run!
Let’s explore our financial happiness for the sake of the topic and time. How can you be frugal and happy at the same time?
What Does It Mean To Be Happy?
I was reading an article in the NY Times this past week, and I found it somewhat fascinating.
CoreData Research was commissioned by Boston to conduct a study on money. They held an online survey of 300 people who were worth more than one million dollars.
They found that money DOES buy happiness or peace of mind first and then joy.
Time spent with friends and family was the sacrifice made for that peace and happiness.
Many who were surveyed found that their lives suffered because they were so busy with their businesses that they weren’t able to spend as much time with their loved ones as they were working.
“But life with money is not all Champagne and caviar. The respondents said that their wealth made them feel satisfied and grateful, but it also gave them a greater sense of responsibility.
Many cherish the way their wealth allowed them to spend time with their families, but some regretted losing the family time they had sacrificed in the pursuit of financial freedom.”
Others stated that their businesses gave them the freedom to spend more time with their loved ones.
The last two books I have read have BOTH stated the same concept in their pages.
The article from the NY Times also discusses these people running their businesses. It seems to run your own business; there is no cap on your income. The sky is the limit!
What Does It Mean To Be Frugal?
Personal finance is always personal. Are you a frugal person?
Most of us have heard of those extreme cases of cheapskate living where people have picked leaves to use as toilet paper and gone through the garbage of the bakery for their day-old bagels.
That is extreme, for sure. But you can be frugal without being excessive.
There is more to it than just being cheap. It has to do with value. As The Simple Dollar website explains, it’s the most bang for your buck.
They use the trash bag example. If you are buying the cheapest trash bags, but they break open if you fill them more than halfway, its a waste of money, and you are paying a lot more for those trash bags then you think.
Investing in better quality will save you more in the long run.
It is also about spending with intention. Not going to Target and dropping $300 without even knowing what you bought. It’s about going in with a list of the things that you need and getting only what’s on that list.
Frugal living is about looking at the bigger picture and not just living for today. Understanding what you want your life to look like in the future and taking steps toward making that happen.
It is not about YOLO (you only live once) mentality instead of living well with happiness and peace in your heart, with as little stress and anxiety as possible.
This is where minimalism and frugalism partner well with each other — getting the best bang for your buck.
How Can You Be Frugal And Happy?
Before we can go any further, you need to understand exactly what brings you happiness in the first place.
What is it about the financial situation that makes you unhappy? Is it that you don’t have enough money or that you are giving it all away to the wrong people? Or is it both?
Do you think that the same type of peace of mind and happiness can come from being debt-free and living frugally?
We all wouldn’t mind a few more dollars in our pockets.
Some of us will have the drive and determination to go bigger and become one of these people in this study. But becoming debt-free and being able to invest your money into something that will make money for you instead of making money for someone else is a high starting point.
I believe that money can buy happiness even if it’s not on the million-dollar scale but the debt-free level.
How much happier and at peace would you be if you were debt-free and could put all that interest that you are paying into your dreams and not into the pockets of your creditors.
Here Are 12 Ways To Feel Joy And Frugality
Get Out Of Debt.
Debt will drain you of so much happiness. The theory of debt “just being the way it is” is entirely false, and whatever source is telling you that needs to be turned off.
Living a debt-free life can and should be done. Imagine the possibilities you could have if you don’t owe anyone anything?
It could be glorious…think of the happiness factor in being debt-free. It’s not easy, but it is more than possible.
Stop giving all your money away to things and people who are just not worthy of all your hard work. Save money instead.
Give your time and/or your money to people and animals in need. Do give away your money to things you value the most. We are all here to serve each other.
Find someone or something which needs you and experience the joy at that moment.
Babysit for your nieces and nephews so your sister can use that gift card to the spa you got her last Christmas.
Pay for grocery delivery for your Grammy.
Volunteer at the food pantry.
Buy mittens for the preschoolers.
This has a lot to do with the example of the trash bags above. Realizing what’s most important is a part of how to be frugal and happy.
It isn’t always about not spending money, but spending the money to get the most bang for your buck, right?
Buy time for yourself by hiring someone to mow your lawn so you can spend time with the ones you love.
Hire out those everyday time stealers like cleaning your home so you can spend more time building your side hustle.
Plan, so you are not running around frantic trying to decide on dinner and then ordering out because you have no idea what to make, and now you are just too tired to think anymore.
Always. Every day. It’s so hard to be miserable and grateful at the same time. It might be dang impossible.
Some people get up early and practice writing in a journal for all the things they are grateful for.
Some look in the mirror and say those things.
Some will stop in a moment of frustration and remember why you are doing what you are doing. It is not about you. It is about the bigger picture, and you are grateful for the things and opportunities you have in this life.
Spending on things you need is one thing, but going out every weekend shopping for stuff you don’t need is different.
It might make you happy for a few hours, but it won’t continue to make you happy in the long run.
Buying stuff with straightforward intention is vital. Remember to live simply and embrace those special things.
Consider the items that you already have, and remember what makes you happy about them.
The candy dish that sits on your shelf that used to sit on the table at your gram’s house full of butterscotch and hard peppermint candies.
The blanket that your aunt made and gave to you because she wanted you to have it.
The art that was made from your son’s foot when he was seven months old.
It’s ok to have stuff, but just make sure that stuff makes you happy and “brings you joy.”
And you know not buying will save money.
Find Like-Minded People.
Surround yourself with kind, frugal people who think like you and can lift you when you start to feel discouraged or frustrated, these people can lift you up and cheer you on.
You do get to chose your friends and those you hang out with. Why not be around those that are going to add value to your life and not drain you of energy?
For some reason, it is tough for us humans to be honest. There is guilt or a fear that is attached to being honest with someone.
Being honest (by no means) should be confused with being mean. If someone asks if you like their sweater, you could say, “It’s not the right color for me.”
Not aggression – like “UGH. That’s hideous!!!” Kindness should always be a priority, but you can also be honest.
Real honesty also goes with finances. Chose to be honest with your spouse or partner about those finances. Be honest with yourself about how much debt you have.
There is a calmness about knowing – even if it’s worse than you thought.
Take Control Of Your Life.
Not only financially – but this is a biggie – but everything. How you take care of yourself, how you eat, how you speak to your kids, how you look at getting up at 5 AM.
You get to choose all of this. You get to choose who you spend time with, how you spend your free time, where you spend (or don’t spend) your money, what job you do, and who hurts your feelings.
You need to grab the reins and take control of all that and more: your life, your happiness. Live simply.
Create A Budget.
Trust me when I say that when you know where your money is going, you can be happier. Even if it’s going someplace, you would rather it not go to student loans or take out. Take control and track your personal finances. When you know, you can do better.
Maya Angelou said it best: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
Creating a budget will give you knowledge and control, as stated above. It will provide you with a plan so you can spend time and energy on what’s most important to you.
For example, you are a giver. You love to give.
There is a benefit coming up for a friend of yours from high school that has cancer.
Knowing your budget and knowing you have a sinking fund for gifts and giving, you know that you have $40 this month to make up a movie and candy basket for the basket raffle at the firehouse next weekend.
And, you can also go help serve spaghetti because it is also important for you to give your time.
Find Free Or Cheap Fun.
Know what kinds of things make you smile. And do more of that. Understanding what makes you smile can give you the knowledge to focus on those things and live simply.
Are you someone who loves the snow? Pull out those snowshoes you haven’t used since you were 24 and revive the joy of the great snow belt of Upstate NY.
I love books. It’s been a long time since I pulled out a good fiction book and spent the entire day getting lost among the pages.
How about grabbing a friend and trying a new coffee spot?
Crawling into bed and watching The Office? (I really enjoy this sometimes. My friend Beck and I call it “The Bubble”).
Know Who You Are.
Having a clear understanding of who you are, including your strengths and weaknesses, will allow you to have true happiness.
If you know you are weak when it comes to Target, only go once a month WITH A LIST and stay out the rest of the time.
If you know you are terribly irresponsible with any type of credit card or debit card, use cash only. I have explained this technique in this blog post.
If you know planning a benefit spaghetti dinner gives you terrible anxiety, leave that to someone else and offer your famous spaghetti sauce as a donation.
Knowing your strengths and weaknesses will guide you to a happier, healthier lifestyle. It can also set you up for a whole new list of goals to improve on.
Make More Money.
It is coming back full circle here. Money can buy happiness. It can buy peace of mind and allow you to give the way you genuinely want to.
So what happens if you are in debt but still long to give? Well, make more money.
Try that side hustle, understand that like the NY Times article above mentioned, you are limited to how much you can make in most jobs when you work for someone else.
Owning your own business will give you much more potential. I wrote about making more money in this blog post.
It may all come down to HOW you are spending your money, whether it genuinely buys you happiness.
Final Thoughts On How To Be Frugal And Happy
These are my top 12 tips on how to live life frugal and happy. Money does come into play here but it all depends on how you perceive it.
There is a certain amount of financial security that comes with having enough money and living a frugal lifestyle. This can either come from making more or spending less.
People feel that the more money they have, the happier they will ba nad while that might be true, MANAGING that money will bring you a lot closer to happiness than anything else.
Where is your money going, and what kind of satisfaction do you get out of taking it there? Leave a comment below to share.