Are You Being Frugal the Wise Way or The Unwise Way?

how to be frugal the right way

We all want to be a bit more frugal; I know that I do. I know that I can be a bit excessive in some areas of my life, but other areas are less important to me and it’s not a bad idea to be more frugal in a situation like that. My family likes to give me a hard time when I say I’m not paying this or that for something when they all know that I’m wearing carrying a $1,400 handbag on one arm. The fact of the matter is that I like to make good investments that last me a long time and then I like to save where I can.

I, for one, view my excessive purchases as a way of being frugal, though it often takes people a long time to understand how that works. Let’s take my Louis Vuitton handbags. I have a few, and I carry them daily. I may switch them out depending on what we are doing and where we are going, but two of them I’ve had for more than 10 years and still carry both around at least two or three times a week. They also look brand new and I never, ever buy new bags. I just bought my first new bag in years this year when I purchased a LV Neverfull. I have four kids, and it’s easier for me to carry this giant bag around with their stuff and mine than it is to try and carry two-year-old twins and manage a 5 and 7-year-old and a diaper bag and a handbag.

I’ll carry this bag forever. It’s an investment. I also don’t spend $200 or $300 on a cheap bag every year or every few months, so I’m actually spending less than the people who buy multiple bags. See? If not, that’s all right. The fact of the matter is that we all have our frugal manner, but sometimes we fail dramatically; frugality is great, but not unless you can ensure what you’re saving money on is worth saving money.

For example, my husband has a riding lawn mower that recently stopped working. He decided he needed a new one for several thousand dollars, and I said no. Why would I say no to something like that? We have almost an acre and a half and we live in Florida. Our lawn needs to be mowed weekly most of the year.

I said no because we’ve had a lawn care company for years and years and years that comes to our home and does our lawn. They recently moved and my husband decided he would mow our lawn himself. He did it the first time and enjoyed it. Then it was about 5 weeks before he did it again. Our lawn was a jungle. He did it again and it’s been a good month since; he never has time. We are never home; I hired a new lawn company because we cannot let our lawn look like that. So, that lawn mower might have been a great investment for someone who would use it, but for us it’s a much better investment to just hire someone.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself before you make a frugal decision to ensure that you are making a good one; because sometimes frugality is a bad idea if you don’t really think it through.

Is an investment piece right for me?

One of the first questions to ask yourself before you go frugal in an expensive handbag/shoes/clothes manner is this one. If you are a trendy person who would rather match her shoes and bag to her outfit every single day, you might not want to spend this kind of money on a designer piece. You might prefer to buy the cheaper items and exchange them all the time. It’s not always more cost-effective, but if you’re going to buy the expensive one and the cheap ones anyway, it’s not worth the investment.

Am I buying this because I need it or because it seems like a deal?

I have seen so many people try to be frugal by buying things on sale. The problem with that is that sometimes you don’t need or even really want that item on sale. It’s not frugal if you’re spending money you weren’t already spending. Let’s say you need a new bench in front of your bed. If you’re looking for one and find it on sale at TJ Maxx for $50 when they’re all over $100 everywhere else, it’s a great deal. If you see it and you don’t need or want it but you notice the price seems low, it’s not a deal. You’re not being frugal at all.

Is this going to require a sacrifice for my family?

Sure, it might cheaper to buy fruit that’s in a can or prepackaged at the supermarket than to shell out the dough on the good, fresh stuff, but is it worth it? If you’re looking at fruit cups to stick in your kids’ lunch box, that’s one thing. However, spending money on fresh fruit and veggies not preserved in a bunch of stuff and unhealthy additives is always a better investment – it’s your health.

When you take a few moments to ask yourself these questions, you’ll often find that your frugal mindset is easier to achieve. Being frugal doesn’t mean being cheap, it simply means being wise with your finances, and these questions are all going to put you on the path to wise financial planning.

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