7 Habits of Highly Frugal People (part 1)
The book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People has sold over 15 million copies since it was first published in 1989, teaching people all over the world how to live a happier, more successful and more satisfying life. One of the prevailing themes of the book is the fact that to change your life you need to change your attitude because no one else is responsible for what happens to you but you, so you can either complain about the things you don’t like in your life or you can set about changing them. Not surprisingly, this directly relates to the state of your finances. This post is a parody to the concepts presented in the book.
If you are tired of living paycheck to paycheck, of having your phone regularly cut off or having to make excuses to skip dinners with your friends if the money has run out before the end of the month then you can use the seven habits of highly effective people to take control of your money situation and live a more frugal lifestyle, and a happier one.
Habit One: Be Proactive
The first habit of highly effective people is to take responsibility for their own lives; if they fail, they have no one to blame but themselves. Regardless of how you were raised or how you were treated at school you are able to choose your behavior now. Being proactive means understanding that you are in control of the direction your life takes and in control of your day to day interactions. Whereas a reactive person is often affected by their environment and will find external sources to blame for their behavior, for example if the weather is good they are in a good mood but if the weather is bad it affects their attitude and so the weather is to blame for their bad mood.
However what most people forget is that between the stimulus and your response is your freedom to choose your response, and one of the most important things you choose are your words. The language you use is an effective indication of how you see yourself and if you use proactive language such as ‘I can’ or ‘I will’ you are starting with a more positive attitude than a reactive person who uses language like ‘I can’t’ or ‘I have to’ or ‘if only…’
How to be proactive for effective frugality:
- Take the first step. You cannot take control of your finances until you make the commitment to do so because the more you ignore the situation the worse it will get. Instead take a long hard look at your finances and your budget, your debts, income and expenses and understand where your money is going and where you can budget better. (To help you out, here are 25 ways to pay off your debt more easily.)
- Tell people. Using proactive language to vocalize your goal of being more frugal and more financially responsible not only helps you crystallize your goal but can also help you avoid the peer pressure which can make budgeting and frugality hard. If you explain to your friends and family how you are trying to live a more frugal lifestyle then they are less likely to pressure you into one more round of drinks at the pub or dinner out, again.
Listen. Listen to yourself and listen to the reasons you give each time you make a purchase outside of your budget or decide not to put those spare funds into your savings account. Taking the time to stop and listen to the reasons you give yourself for spending more than you earn will give you the opportunity to hear just how shallow many of those reasons are, and can stop you from making purchases which can impede your goal of effective frugality.
Habit Two: Begin with the End in Mind
Those who are effective in achieving their goals are able to envisage their end result despite the obstacles. Highly effective people adhere to this habit based on the principle that all things are created twice, there is the first mental creation and then the second physical creation, and the physical creation follows the mental creation in the same way as the building follows its blueprints.
If you don’t visualize what you want out of life then you are at risk of other people and external circumstances influencing your life because you are not influencing it yourself. Instead begin every day and every task with a clear vision of where you want to go and how you’re going to get there and make that vision a reality with your proactive skills from habit one.
How to visualize effective frugality:
- Define your goal. There are many ways to live a frugal lifestyle and you need to decide on how frugal you want to be. Do you want to be debt free, do you want to build a savings account balance of a certain value or do you want to be able to live on one income in a two income household?
- Decide how you’re going to get there. This will again draw on your budget, but you also need to be aware of the obstacles which are standing in your way. These may be literal obstacles such as credit card debts, or they may be obstacles you have identified in your behavior; for example are you spending $10 every day on junk food on your way home from work because you’re starving when you could be packing a two dollar muesli bar or a low GI lunch to keep you going until dinner. Or do you find that when you go shopping with your sister she always helps you justify a frivolous purchase when you could leave your credit card at home?
Make sure your goals are SMART! Here’s what I mean by that. Part 2 coming soon.