The hardest part about changing your spending habits is simply getting started. You see, itÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s interesting to observe how one lives a frugal life when they donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have much money but somehow all the spending gates open when you get your salary or any windfall money.
One lesson is that you can live a happy frugal life when you have all the money to spend than when you really are struggling financially. In the latter case, frugality becomes no choice but a necessary pain.
But my turning point was this other day while relaxing in my hotel room in Blantyre. After a heavy workshop day, I was watching a movie and saw how this other character would pay for food and drinks which he could hardly finish.
He would open a bottle of coke and then leave it half full. He would order a meal at lunch and would only eat half of it. This actor reminded me of my own habits. Often times than not, I have ordered food and other things simply because it is time for lunch or breakfast or supper even when am not that hungry. I have sometimes bought some newspapers even when there is nothing of my interest.
After the movie, which I didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t quite finish because I had mostly been thinking about my own spending habits, I told myself it was time to review my spendingÃ¢â‚¬â€this was going to be a marathon race.
The following day, I kept that thought on my mind, and instead of going for a full lunch, I took a snack because I had a heavy breakfast. Instead of buying newspapers, I asked for hotel copies which I read and returned.
While in town, I saw a good economics book but decided to read the many books on my home shelves that I am yet to go through. That night, I thought about what I had saved. I estimated I had saved over K7 500 (about $50) just by doing things a bit differently that day and I slept like a baby.
Tomorrow morning, when you wake up, make a one day commitment to living in a more frugal fashion. You may want to try the following things:
Ã¢â‚¬â€Take your lunch to work/school instead of eating out
Ã¢â‚¬â€Make sure that as many idle electric and electronic devices as possible are turned off when you are in or leaving your house. Just look around and see how much electricity is being wasted.
Ã¢â‚¬â€For entertainment, do something with little cost, like reading a book you already have or going for a walk with children, instead of having a beer or going to the cinema.
Ã¢â‚¬â€If you would normally go out for celebration dinner, invite friends over to do something at home instead like playing a board game or have communal dish of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœnsima withnkwaniwotenderaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢
Ã¢â‚¬â€Prepare and eat supper at home using only whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s in your cupboards and fridges
Ã¢â‚¬â€Evaluate everything that you purchase and donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t buy anything frivolous.
At the end of the day, perhaps as youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re about to fall asleep reflect on the money you saved throughout the day. If you consider all the places where you saved even a little bit of money, you will probably surprise yourself in terms of how much money you have now that you wouldnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t have otherwise.
Then, consider trying it again tomorrow. After several days, some of your new routines will start to become old habits and your bank account will thank you with huge balances.