Saving money here and there by living frugally is great and deserves to be celebrated, but what if you were able to replicate and automate that savings every month, every week, every day by creating frugal habits?
Frugal living gets easier once you form strong frugal habits. What seemed like a sacrifice at first, becomes old hat. What was hard initially turns into just the way we do it.
So what sorts of frugal habits are we talking about here?
Turning off the light when you leave the room. Shopping used first. Bringing your lunch. Tracking your spending. Cooking at home. Using empowered, positive words to talk about our relationship with money like we talked about on day 24.
Those are just a few of the things we’ve talked about that you could turn into habits.
How do we turn frugal behaviors into consistent habits?
Turning frugal behaviors into habits is very similar to the way we would form other good habits like making your bed or flossing your teeth. There have been lots of studies aimed at the psychology behind making habits stick.
Let’s look into some of the major points:
First, pick one area to focus on. You shouldn’t be short on ideas for how you can save money– that’s what the frugal fresh start challenge has been all about! But you can’t tackle every area all at once. You’ll get overwhelmed and discouraged or you’ll just plain forget all the things you intended to do. Choose one thing at a time to master.
Start reasonably small. It’s easy to get excited and go overboard when contemplating any transformation. We want drastic changes fast, but for real sustainable changes we may need to start small. If your grocery budget is currently $1,200 per month, then reducing it to $600 all of a sudden might be too extreme of a change to be sustainable. Of course, how big or small you think you can go depends on you. If you have dire circumstances or serious motivation, you can make any new habit stick.
Motivation is key to forming habits. That’s why we talked about finding and focusing on your “why” at the beginning of the challenge. If you missed Day 1 of the Frugal Fresh Start Challenge, go check that out. Honing in on your “why” will give you a powerful reason to stick with your new frugal habit even when it’s hard.
Another important aspect of forming habits is to associate the new behavior with a trigger. If the new habit is making your bed, you can associate it with something you won’t forget, like brushing your teeth. Every morning when you brush your teeth, you can remind yourself to make the bed. If tracking your expenses is the habit you’re trying to form, maybe your trigger can be getting your wallet out. Before you put your wallet away you need to record the transaction in the app on your phone. Find a trigger or reminder that will fit with the habit you’re trying to cultivate.
Finally, time. Though people like to say it takes just 21 days to solidify a habit, studies show that really making something into a habit usually takes longer. Don’t give up– these frugal habits will save you money for years to come. It’s worth investing some time to make sure they stick.
Well, you made it! You stuck with us for the whole 28 day Frugal Fresh Start Challenge! Pat yourself on the back! I hope you feel energized with ideas and motivation to pull you through reaching that six month goal you set back on Day 1 of the challenge. You can do this!!
So what now? Unless you’re superhuman, you probably haven’t taken the time to actually implement all of the money-saving strategies we’ve talked about. Take some time now and go back through the days and complete the challenges you missed. For example, lowering your bills for Day 8 might take more than a day to thoroughly complete if you give lowering each one of your “fixed” expenses an honest-to-goodness try. This will give you an introduction to many frugal behaviors, and one of them might be the new frugal habit you want to work on first!
When we put together the Frugal Fresh Start Challenge, we tried to stick with basic, fundamental areas where most everyone can save money, but surely there are many more that would apply specifically to your situation. We are continually sharing ideas here to help you be even more frugal and hit on some of those more specific situations.
Some of the challenges this month were probably new to you. Maybe you had never tracked your spending or made a budget before. Maybe you never considered the impact of eating at home or the ways you could save money on gas. We all have many areas where we can be more frugal and put more money toward our goals.
We still have five months left to work toward our six-month goals. If you want to surround yourself with some online frugal friends, you’re invited to join our Facebook community. I love the way everyone is uplifting and supporting of one another.
Go back through your Frugal Fresh Start workbook and complete any topics you missed. Then, think back to the six month financial goal you set on Day 1. What habits do you need to change or keep up in order to reach your goal? Decide on a single new habit you wish you had, set a reasonable scope and decide what you’ll use as a trigger to help you remember.
It’s been fun. Thanks for joining us for this Frugal Fresh Start. It really is easier and more enjoyable to do this together with friends. We’d love to hear your comments about what worked well and what didn’t, and we’d really love to hear back in six months as you reach your goal. We’ll celebrate together!