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Finding the Frugality Habit: 4 Ways to Beat Internal Pressures

In my recent article, I discussed the frugality habit. I often find myself spending much more than I intend to, so I began asking myself why. One of the major reasons is the internal pressure – temptation, desire, and lack of discipline – that causes us to pull out our wallets and buy something we don’t really need. The temptation to spend is fundamental to all of us, so how can we fight back?

Here are four ways to help you develop the frugality habit. Many other blogs offer tips and specific examples of ways to be frugal, but I’m more interested in helping you develop the mindset of frugality. While specific examples are great (and I’ll include some in this post), they all emerge from the mindset. Develop the habit, and the individual actions will arise naturally.

1) Understand what a habit really is.

It’s tough to develop a habit without understanding the definition. A habit, according to the Princeton dictionary, is “an automatic pattern of behavior in reaction to a specific situation; may be inherited or acquired through frequent repetition.” This is an excellent definition: it is automatic, unconscious, and it can be acquired by being continually practiced. A habit is really a feedback loop: You can develop the frugality habit by being frugal, and you act frugally by developing the habit (see figure below). Thus, you must really take it to heart to become frugal: begin acting frugally until it becomes unconscious.


2) Change your outlook towards spending.

At a certain point, you must make the decision to become a frugal spender. This means that you must evaluate your current spending and decide that you don’t need to spend like you used to in the past. For example, in a recent article, Frugal Dad asked himself what “rich” meant – and he decided that he had enough money, so he didn’t need to spend as much as he had been.

3) Condition the habit.

Make a serious effort, daily, to act frugally. Look at lists of potentially frugal things to do (such as here at The Frugal Duchess) and try to find ways to cut your spending. Consider subscribing to thrift and personal finance blogs (like this one!) and doing your best daily to…

4) Continue the habit until it’s unconscious.

Refine and improve your frugal actions until being frugal has become completely habitual. By acting frugally, you will become frugal.

Read up on Scott Young’s method of habit-introducing here. This is a good introduction to developing habits that you might find helpful.

By following these steps, you will be able to make yourself surprisingly frugal. By developing these protections against internal pressures, you won’t be affected by your desires and temptations as much as before.

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