Next time you go to Walmart don’t buy anything. Instead, watch what other people buy as they checkout.
Groceries, clothes, toiletries, electronics, sporting goods, bikes, tires and everything in between can be found at Walmart, or in 2019, online at mega-retailers like Amazon.
Before online shopping, Walmart might have been the only place where you could witness someone grab a bag of lettuce for some tacos and end up walking out with a fishing pole, 2 new bathroom rugs and a $5 DVD.
In other words… you could walk into a store to buy a gallon of milk and come out with a million things you don’t need. It’s like the new boogie board just hopped into your shopping cart.
If you are stingy this won’t happen. Living stingy is the key to having financial success and preventing spending on wastless things… which both lead to a happy life.
Living stingy isn’t a bad thing.
There is nothing wrong with being stingy with your money. Typically, people who are referred to as being stingy are seen as cheap, frugal, ungenerous, or a “Penny pincher.” But is there anything wrong with carefully watching your money?
Just buying things to buy them, the opposite of living stingy, is reckless.
In countless life scenarios, we are advised not to live recklessly. Think about all the times you have heard things like:
- Don’t drive recklessly, be defensive.
- Don’t rush into anything, weigh your options.
- Take it slow with the new girlfriend/boyfriend, you don’t want to rush it.
- Pace yourself when you run
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew
Yet when we are “Stingy” with our money, we are sometimes told by others who don’t watch their money, that we are cheap or “Tight.”
Is being tight and strategic with your money a bad thing though? The answer is no. Living stingy is not a bad thing, in fact it is almost a skill.
How to make living stingy possible.
Living stingy with one-click shopping, marketing emails flooding our inboxes and social media showing everyone’s 10 lifestyle has NEVER BEEN HARDER.
Consumer spending is at an all-time high, while savings rates are at an all-time low. The average 30 year old should have their salary saved, yet the average millennial is saving less than 4% of their annual income.
Impulse buying has never been easier. Hop on your phone, Google the product you want and in 1-2 days it is at your door. Scroll down Facebook and see all the trips your friends recently took and before you know it you are booking a trip on your credit card.
Needless to say, it is really easy to spend money, making the whole stingy living thing a little challenging.
However, just because it is more challenging, doesn’t mean it can’t be done! Here is a list of 5 simple way to start living stingy.
Tip: Add everything you want (or think you might need) into a shopping cart and checkout 1x per month online. By the end of the month, your wants/needs might change.
6 Ways to Live Stingy
1. Assess Wants and Needs.
There is a big difference between a want and a need. I want a new car, a cappuccino, and $1,000,000. However, I need my Kia, some black coffee and about $35,000 a year to pay the bills.
Ultimately, to live stingy the right way, EVERY purchase needs to be scrutinized. Should you get the $7 burrito or just wait to eat at home?
- Wants = Things you would like to have. Examples include new clothes, furniture, fancy foods, new cars, and anything else that isn’t pertinent to survival.
- Needs = Things you need to have to survive. Food, shelter, water, safety and throw in internet these days.
One tip to help you is to implement a standard spending rule.
As a general rule of thumb, any one item purchase over $50 should be able to check the box as a need. Then you should actually wait 24-48 hours before moving forward with the purchase just to really make sure it is true need (This does count for things like groceries and bills).
2. Ask the happiness question
We all know something we buy might make us happy in the moment. I talk A LOT about burritos because I am a millennial and I just love the heck out of them.
But from time to time when I buy them I usually have buyers remorse for breaking my budget and I am really not even that satisfied. Hence the feeling of happiness I thought a fat burrito would bring me is gone.
So always ask this question with every purchase:
Will this purchase make me happy in 30 days, 6 months or even 4 years?
Or will you have buyers remorse and regret it within the next 24 hours. Just make sure you are not buying based on short term emotions – think long term!
A caveat to spending and living stingy – will this purchase make someone else happy?
3. Cancel subscriptions, cable & emails.
Half that battle of living stingy is avoiding spending opportunities. As stated previously, spending money in the digital age is easier than it has ever been!
Just avoiding spending opportunities can make living stingy that much easier. As a recommendation, consider canceling or throwing away these types of bills/subscriptions, email or mail to prevent extra spending:
- Promotional mailers
- Coupons (Encourage spending money you weren’t planning on spending)
- Marketing emails from stores
- Radio subscriptions
- Movie subscriptions
- Cable or Directv
- Gym membership (If possible)
- Recurring payments to cell phone apps ($10×12=$120)
- Games where in app purchases are easy to make
- Throw away junk mail – don’t open it
4. Find free activities to do.
Just because you live stingy and operate on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun or do fun things. Watching what you spend simply means you place a higher value on what is most important to you.
That being said, if entertainment and activities are your favorite thing to do, while you might have to delay some gratification while you look to accomplish some financial goals – you can find a ton of free events around you at any time.
Consider the following free events or just check out Eventbrite:
- Free local summer concerts
- Free outdoor movie nights
- Carnivals & festivals
- Hiking & national parks
- Outdoor sports
- Day trips to places
The list above is just a handful of things to do, mostly involving the local community events near you. If you have to spend money (Not many free concerts in December up north) then use Groupon’s that you search for (Don’t subscribe) to find good deals.
Companies and businesses are always looking to promote themselves especially during their slow season – take advantage of that.
5. Have financial goals.
Just by identifying a few specific, long term financial goals will help you live stingier.
Goals naturally help us stay focused. Want to lose a few pounds – you identify a target number then get to work.
The same can be said when it comes to making sure you live below your means. Identify a target financial goal, then get to work. Most likely your goal (Saving more, debt freedom, starting a new business) will require energy and spending changes.
Write your goals down and set 1 year, 3 year, and 5 to 10 year goals – heck even a 30 year goal. The more specific the better and they can include things like career goals or family goals. Simply having a list of goals will keep you focused and on target.
In other words you will be less likely to waiver and fall off the living stingy wagon.
6. Be stingy with your time.
Being stingy isn’t all about money, it is about time too.
Everyone has a co-worker friend who complains about the amount of work they are taking home every night but they spend 3 hours socializing and surfing the internet every day. If that is you – stop it.
Either way, be purposeful with your time. While yes money is important and needed in just about every life scenario, time is even more important. Time is the only thing we can’t control – it just keeps moving.
However, we can control our daily habits, routines and actions so that we are making sure we focus on priorities. Remember to always place a priority on things that actually matter such as your spouse, kids, family and friends. The urgent email from work on Saturday can wait, be stingy with your time.
Choices is Why You Should Live Stingy
Be honest, would you rather go to work tomorrow or on a trip to your favorite place in the world?
What if I told you that last year had you just eaten out half the time, cut your grocery bill in half and cut a few subscriptions you could have anywhere from $1,000-$3,000+ to take that trip tomorrow…
Would that be worth the trade off?
Living stingy teaches you how to put the main thing first, and keep it the main thing. Maybe because you live stingy you are able to pay off your student loans or start a college savings account for your kids.
Or maybe you want to travel somewhere awesome like Europe for a few weeks but you never seem to have enough money.
Either way that little purchase here and there combined with not living stingy makes doing the things we really want to do that much harder. The concept of being frugal is very simple:
Place more value on things you truly desire and less value on things that don’t really matter.
Case in point, let’s say your goal is to one day own a lake home. If your goal is to own a lake home and that is what really matters to you because you can take your family and friends there on the weekends then you might have to give up some things to do so.
You might have to live stingy and delay gratification in order make the lake home a reality. But if you don’t live stingy – it might not ever happen.
My Take: Why You Should Live Stingy
I recently wrote about my dog’s chocolate consumption fiasco and why you should always have an emergency fund because three years ago we made the choice to live stingy with our money.
That decision allowed us to make another decision – to save our dog and spend the money we needed to do so at the vet to keep her alive. We didn’t have to throw it on a credit card or choose the other option that we were presented.
Living stingy allows you to have choices on what really matters. What it doesn’t mean is you live like a hermit crab and never spend money or enjoy life (Unless that’s what makes you happy).
Being purposeful with your money means you make decisions to spend money on what makes you happy – not on what might make you emotionally satisfied in the moment or worse what you think might impress others.
Just because a family member says you’re tight with your money doesn’t mean you go buy a new car to impress them. No you stick to what your plans and you remember the financial goals you set for yourself.
Living stingy can be really easy when you follow the steps above and make sure to live by these last two mantras:
- Never compare yourself
- Other people’s opinions don’t pay your bills.
Question: What is one living stingy tip you can add to the list? Comment below!
Josh writes about ways to make money, pay off debt, and improve yourself. After paying off $300,000 in student loans with his wife in less than five years, Josh started Money Life Wax and has been featured on Forbes, Business Insider, Huffington Post, and more! In addition to being a life-long entrepreneur, Josh and his wife enjoy spending time with their chocolate lab named Morgan, working out, being outside, traveling, and helping others with their finances! I got serious with money when I used Personal Capital to track my finances.