Fabulously Frugal

Fabulously Frugal

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Almost sounds like an oxymoron. How can frugality be fabulous? When you think of frugality, what image does your mind conjure up and what word associations come to mind? Most people I speak to seem to think deprivation. That’s quite the opposite of how we feel!

I got to thinking about this after reading 15hww’s post on how would one spend $15,000 a month, if they earned it passively? I tried to stack up some expenses and I could not reach $15,000. I could throw in a few fancy holidays with private helicopter rides and some luxurious yachts as well as some really indulgent hotels. That would be some one-offs that could eat up the $15,000 but I can’t see our lifestyle consuming $15,000 a month regularly.

It boils down to the fact that we have developed a fabulously frugal mindset. It’s a drive and it’s ingrained in us so it extends to our choices and behaviours easily. It’s our relationship with money and our relationship with material items as well as experiences. It’s a total transformation! The outcome of this transformation is just merely being content and able to very quickly identify how much value does anything at all bring into our life. This means that we do not then feel deprived based on the lifestyle we lead now, we just no longer feel compelled to make as many purchases as before.

Last night was a good example – over a conversation with my brother’s girlfriend about this new handphone that Mr.C got (look out for the post on this soon!) on Lazada (our Amazon here on the Red Dot), she got really excited on what a fantastic deal it was and she’s been looking on Lazada as well to make a purchase. I asked if it was for a phone? She said, “Oh yknow, anything, just itchy to buy something”. See, I recognise that itch. I get that sometimes still and usually can talk myself out of it. If not, I speak to Mr.C. He’s fairly effective at achieving the same outcome.

Hey Mr.C, I want to get this for our new place. Makes drying small items easier before we wipe it down and put it away.

Mr.C: Looks good. What’s wrong with using one of our normal kitchen towels as a temporary base?

Ms.K promptly closes the Amazon window that was open. End of discussion.

Frugality, for us, has come down to mindful spending more than the urge to save as much money as possible. I’ve always believed that the right questions will lead you to the right decisions. A few simple but powerful questions we always ask ourselves:

  • How often will I really use this product? Am I likely to lose interest after a while as not use it anymore? (takes a lot of honesty and thinking to answer this question)
  • Do I need a product specific to this purpose or a general product would do? (See example of the drying towel above)
  • Can I achieve the same or a similar outcome without making this spend?

One other trick I learnt along the way is to delay the spend by a few days or weeks and to see how strong that urge still is or have I found a reason compelling enough for me to buy it immediately. My best example for this is my wanting to buy a Nutribullet for close to 4 years now so I can easily and effortlessly make juice every morning. I can’t seem to bring myself to do it though, not when we have a blender at home that can do the same thing – blend! With the delayed spend, the rationale to make the purchase just becomes less convincing. When I can’t convince myself on the value behind the spend, as much as I want an awesome Nutribullet at home for my juices, I just know that it’s not a good spend.

Once this mindset becomes ingrained in you as your new way of thought, you’ll be surprised how your perception changes of just about everything. If you look at your daily life, there’s spend opportunities at every turn and having a new pair of lenses to look at these spend choices is a very interesting situation when you make a comparison to your previous self – I know, I was quite the spender before. Heading to work – MRT or Cab? Lunch – food court or cafe / restaurant? Snack – Cut fruit or what I brought from home? Evening entertainment – theater or movie at home? Bored – should I go shopping or go for a walk along the water?

A big and necessary caveat I must add here is that there’s absolutely no point comparing 1 person’s purchases to another. The way 1 person practices frugality to another. It’s judgmental and rather mean as well as a pointless exercise as where person A places value from a particular spend could be vastly different from person B. For example, I have a brother that loves wine and Michelin Star restaurants and frequently indulges in both categories. He’s still set for FIRE in a timeline that’s acceptable to him. Mr.C and I, not so much in the same categories would spend perhaps the same in a year on our holidays and in food in general (our weekly grocery bill just on fruits and cheese sometimes!), maybe the same amount or maybe less.

What are your thoughts on frugality by choice? Do you have some tricks up your sleeve in managing your spend and mindset or do you see it as deferred spending? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Author: Ms.K

Ms.K is everything that Mr.C is, without the natural interest in investing and company financials! The activity planner for the family, the driver of random ideas and soon to be ‘retiring’ in to full time motherhood – Ms.K has no idea what she’s in for but remains super excited!

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4 Replies to “Fabulously Frugal”

  1. For me, I will do my calculation by assigning the number of times of usage corresponding to the value of the item. For instance, if that item costs $100, will I use it at least 100 times? If I would, that’s probably worth getting then. I blogged about this previously 🙂
    https://minimalistinthecity.com/2016/09/07/one-dollar-for-each-utilisation/

    Alternatively, if it’s really a luxury buy, I will think about how many hours of my work that I need to put in in exchange for that item. That really makes you think twice. https://minimalistinthecity.com/2016/12/07/purchasing-with-your-real-hourly-wage/

    1. Hi Kate!

      If it’s a significant item, I always think in the context of work hours required for a purchase. It really helps to frame the purchase in context of: is it worth the time/effort I’ve put in to earn the money.

      I’ll check your post $1 per utilisation post out and see if that method works for me. Thanks!

  2. Whether consciously or subconsciously, I always evaluate the business case of any potential purchases (occupational habit). When both head and heart are aligned that benefits > costs, I’ll buy. Anything else and I’ll wait.

    A prime example is the Apple Watch. I’ve wanted one since the first version was released years ago. I deliberated and delayed the purchase until the third version was recently released (and that was a birthday gift from the Mrs). The deliberation was simply because the heart couldn’t convince the head that benefits > costs.

    1. Haha JF, sounds like you’re the consultant since you’re talking about business cases! 😀

      Aligning the heart and the head is very important, because otherwise the resulting conflict will make usage of the purchased item less enjoyable. It could be some form of internalised guilt about spending too much or resentment everytime you use the (probably less awesome but cheaper) substitute.

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