There are undoubtedly things you want in life that cost some amount of money that you do not currently have. Whether the object of your attention is a big-ticket item consumer item like a car, a lifestyle experience such as a trip across Europe, or the achievement of a high standard of living during retirement, getting what you desire requires equal parts hard work and savings over time.
Prioritize Lifestyle Decisions
If you acknowledge that some kind of reduction in your current spending habits is required if you are to reach your goals, properly setting priorities is the first step on the path towards frugal living. This requires that you first decide what inspires you and comprises the core of your desired lifestyle before taking stock of what currently makes up your day-to-day.
Maintaining an expense tracker or even setting up a basic budget calculator for at least a week is an effective way to gain awareness of how you spend a majority of your time and money. Coupled with the vision of your desired future, you can identify if there are any aspects of your life that are frivolous and serve only to distract you from your ultimate goals. This can benefit you not only by saving the money previously spent on any non-essential goods or services, but also by freeing up that time in your day to spend more productively.
Opportunity cost is one of the most important concepts in the field of personal finance. It describes the fact that the total cost of an expense should not be measured only by the direct cost, but also by the alternatives that could have been pursued with the same time and money no longer available. In that way, you should begin accounting for each of your expenses not only by the looking at the price tag, but also by considering the value of any alternative uses you could have spent that money on.
For example, it’s all too easy to justify a trip to Starbucks for a five dollar cup of coffee in the morning. But with modern coffee-making equipment, it can take only a few minutes to brew multiple cups of coffee and cost as little as sixteen cents per cup. Therefore, the total cost of your morning detour shouldn’t be measured only by the dollar cost of the Starbucks coffee, but also by the savings you could have realized by brewing the coffee at home in the first place.
Distinguishing Current and Long-Term Lifestyles
Finally, it is useful to remember that there is a difference between your lifestyle today and how you want to live in the future. Any significant accumulation of wealth requires hard work and diligent saving over time, which means that you can expect your frugality today to be paid back in the future in the form of increased comfort and lifestyle opportunities.
It is natural to want things now at the expense of saving for a better future, but keep in mind that there is a reason that patience is considered a virtue. If you cut back on non-essential expenses and increase your rate of savings today, you are much more likely to be able to afford the expenses associated with your longer-term aspirations.
Adopting a more frugal lifestyle is a great way to generate more savings for the purpose of achieving a higher standard of living in the future. If you take opportunity cost seriously and carefully trim away unnecessary expenditures, it may not be too long before you notice a significantly improved financial situation and an increasingly higher capacity to spend when actually necessary.
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