For me, frugality isn’t just about money. It’s not just about a bottom line. It’s not just about asking myself, how much did I earn this month? How much did I save? How much is in the bank?
Goals are so important to frugality, but they can also make frugality a little counter-productive. When you spend so much time setting goals and scrimping and saving, it’s easy to lose sight of the real goal — happiness and peace of mind.
Yes, frugality is about saving money. But the true bottom line is quality of life. The whole reason I want to get out of debt, save money, avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck is because I want to live better. I don’t want to worry about money. That’s why it’s so ironic when frugality occasionally leads me to do just that — worry about money.
When I worry about money now, it’s so unnecessary. It’s not because I can’t pay my bills or buy groceries. It’s because I forgot a coupon at home and paid an extra 30 cents for groceries, or a slight setback prevented us from hitting our savings goal for the month. Those are the times when I have to stand back, look at how far we’ve come, and remind myself to relax.
I continue to be mindful of my spending and save as much as I can, but I draw the line when it crosses over from mindfulness to worry. I’m frugal because I don’t want to worry about the money issues that really matter, like making ends meet or covering emergencies. If I still worry about money after all of this hard work, then what’s the point?
If you sweat the small stuff when it comes to frugality, take a step back and ask yourself why you’re clipping coupons, budgeting, saving. No matter what your overall goals, chances are your motives are the same — you want a better life. But fretting about every last penny isn’t the life I envision when I think about my best possible life.
When you’re kicking yourself for leaving a coupon at home, worrying about how long it’s going to take you reach your final goals, just take a step back, breathe, and remember the real bottom line.
Ask yourself: Is this improving my quality of life? Many of my frugal habits do: menu planning, budgeting, saving. At the end of the day, those things make me calmer and happier.
But the ones that don’t — worrying, depriving myself, sacrificing my comfort or happiness for a little bit of money — shouldn’t be a part of my lifestyle.