Frugality: The right life choice
Build a life with meaning by embracing a frugal ethos. You won't be sorry. And yes, you can still have fun.
Relax: I'm not going to make you wash out Ziploc bags with homemade detergent and cold water. There's no One True Path to follow. You won't get kicked out of the movement if you forget your coupons.
Oh, and forget what you think you knew about the word "frugal," which has somehow come to mean "joyless self-denial." What it actually means is choosing to live a life without waste, a life in which each decision means something.
There's nothing cooler than self-determination -- and frugality doesn't limit your choices. It just refines them. (Post continues below)
My personal mantra is "I save where I can so I can spend where I want." Living this way means asking a few important questions:
- What do I want?
- Why do I want it?
- How can I get it with the least amount of impact?
Frugality might let you stay home with a child, start your own business, scratch that sabbatical itch or get two years' worth of toothpaste free with coupons. (Hey, we all have different dreams.)
Looking at money differently
Although the frugal life requires careful choices, these choices quickly become habit. Remember the first time you ever drove a car, used a computer, changed a diaper? Now you can do such things without thinking. They're second nature.
Creativity and careful spending kept me afloat during several tough times in my life, including as a broke 21-year-old mom in a big city and more recently after a protracted divorce.
Each time I found that you can live well without spending much money. Believe me, that's way more fun than living with the stress of books that won't balance.
The truth is that I'm living more fully than I ever have because I'm making specific, informed choices about the way I spend my money.
In the past half-dozen years, frugality has allowed me to pay off divorce-related debt, build an emergency fund, earn a college degree, travel extensively, save for retirement and donate to charity. And, yeah, to get a couple of years' worth of toothpaste free with coupons.
I want to help you look at money differently. (Hint: It's a useful tool. It is not a religion.) To that end I'll share a mix of freebies and frugal hacks that will save you cash in both the short and long term.
Living within your means does not translate to a life of lack. Come back every day and you'll see what I mean.
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WHAT IS FRUGAL NATION?
Donna Freedman's Frugal Nation blog is for readers who want to live cheaply -- whether due to necessity or a lifestyle choice. It explores living sustainably and making life more meaningful at the same time.
ABOUT DONNA FREEDMAN
Donna Freedman, a writer based in Anchorage, Alaska, writes the Frugal Nation blog for MSN Money. She won regional and national prizes during an 18-year newspaper career and earned a college degree in midlife without taking out student loans. Donna also writes about the frugal life for her own site, Surviving and Thriving.
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