How to Stay Frugal, Even On the Days When You Want to Splurge

Laina Brown-Money at Home
by Laina Brown-Money at Home

Being frugal is a journey and some days we are rocking it. We are meeting our financial goals and we are so excited about saving money. On other days it’s a struggle to stay frugal. So today I'm sharing five things that have helped us stay frugal over the long term.


Template for writing down goals

1. Write down your goals

First up is to write down your big goals. Think about what you want to accomplish with your money, with your life, what you want your life to look like in a year, and what you want your life to look like in five years, in ten years. What are your goals? 


Don't forget the immediate goal that you are working on right now. 


Write your goals down so you can see them. When you're making your monthly budget and you're checking in about what your expenses are, you're reminded that you need to work on that goal some more so that can keep you on track. 

Thinking through the consequences of long-term purchases

2. Think through your purchases

The next thing that helps us stay frugal over the long term is thinking through our purchases and thinking of what consequences they may have. This is kind of unfun, but hear me out. This has helped us so much. 


Perhaps you are dreaming of a new car and you have set your eyes on a beautiful, expensive car. You may want to buy this, but you need to think through what this would mean financially. 


Say the car is $50,000. This is a nice big car with all the creature comforts. I want to follow through and figure out exactly how much my monthly payment would be and how that would affect my life. 


Let’s have a trade-in value of $1,000 but we need a down payment of $10,000. Even with that, we're looking at $776 a month as a car payment. So I am going into my budget. Do I have $776 extra every month that I want to be spending on this car? 


I also want to think about what I am giving up to have this car. What could I do with $776 a month? Let's say that it costs about $4,000 to go to Disneyland. I could pay for a trip to Disneyland in five months with that car payment money and that puts things in perspective for me. 


I like going on trips to cool places more than I like being in the preschool drop-off line in a nice car. We are thinking through big purchases.

Cookie Monster

3. Lifestyle creep

The next way that we try to stay frugal is by being aware of lifestyle creep. So this is where you start making a little bit more money, and then suddenly somehow all that money disappears.


You don't have extra money. You just start buying nicer things. You get a raise. You get a new car. You get a bigger car payment. Then all that extra money is eaten up by your lifestyle creep. 


I like to think of it as a little monster that's coming to eat your extra money. So be aware of the lifestyle creep and have a plan. When you get a raise, what are you going to do with your extra money?

Shopping for a Portland leather purse

4. Be aware of temptations 

The next thing that helps me stay frugal is that I know my temptations and try to avoid them. What buttons are easy for you to push when you are feeling down? For me, my big temptation is often a Portland leather purse.


If I'm not feeling frugal right now or I'm having a bad day, temptation says I should just order something pretty, maybe in honey, because I don't have that color yet. 


This is partly where our blow budget comes in and helps us out. I and my husband both get blow money every single month, and we get to spend that however we wish.


So if I am feeling down, I can spend my blow money to my heart's content on whatever silly thing that I want to. So I am ready for that emotional rainy day that can make us impulse spenders. 


We do have a limit on that impulse spending because the fact is that our blow budgets are not unlimited.

How to stay frugal

5. Make saving a game

Lastly, turn savings into a game. Put a positive spin on savings and being clever and getting a good deal. I needed a new coat for winter. I needed one of those hip-length coats.


I was so proud of myself because my old coat lasted for eight years and now it has a hole in it. I started shopping around, and I figured out that I could get a Columbia coat for $190 and that just sounded ridiculous to me. 


Then I found an awesome coat at Marshall's when I was shopping with my sister, and it was only $80. I was like, I know this is a good deal because I have been doing my research and shopping around, and I am so proud of this purchase that I made for something that I need. I saved so much money on finding that coat at a better price. 


Anything you can do to turn savings into a game, share your wins with your family. I got a $40 couch that would have sold for $3,000. I got a beautiful table from a local furniture store, it was used. I got it for $75. So we are sharing these wins, and we are celebrating the ways that we've been able to save money and that encourages us to stay on the path and not give up. Make it cool to save money. 


How to stay frugal

Being frugal is a journey, and we’re always learning new ways to stay frugal. I hope my tips can help you when the going gets tough. The goals you have set for yourself are worth it.


What helps you stay frugal? What tips can you share with us? Share in the comments, we love to hear from you!

Comments
Join the conversation
 1 comment
  • Wendy Wendy 3 days ago

    I needed a new chair but didn’t want to spend the money. Went to the Restore for Habitat for Humanity. Found a nice leather chair and footstool. I googled it and found it for 5k new. I didn’t feel so bad about spending the $400. They were asking

Next