Cultivating an Attitude of Thrift
Frequently in this blog, we have mentioned that one of the most important aspects of successful money management is having the right attitude. In our experience, the right attitude is thrift.
In the Greater Toronto Area, thrift is one of those old-fashioned values that we seem to hear less and less about. When we see it in others, we admire its results, but we recognize that starting and following the practice of thrift can be a challenge.
What is Thrift?
Thrift is an honourable and careful approach to money management. It enables those who practice it to more fully enjoy their lives, while increasing their financial security. It is not being miserly or any of the negative connotations that are sometimes incorrectly assigned to it. Thrift is the ability to make the best use of the resources that are available.
How Does it Work?
A successful attitude of thrift requires:
- the desire to be thrifty,
- converting that desire into action,
- paying attention to the small expenses in life,
- learning to set and save for goals,
- avoiding the use of credit,
- carefully managing money through budgeting, and
- considered spending (thinking before spending).
Careful management of money means that it needs to be accounted for in a budget. We need to plan and track our expenses, and our goals – to make the best use of our money.
How to Get Started
If you are like most people, the idea of having a budget and committing to a thrifty lifestyle is a little scary. Maybe you have tried budgets in the past and were not able to stay on them, or maybe you do not know how to set up a budget. We have a free, simplified budget seriesthat will help you quickly get started on a realistic budget, tailored to meet your needs.
You might want to develop some simple-to-do, thrifty habits like:
- turning off the lights in empty rooms,
- turning the TV off (if no one is watching it),
- leaving the water off when you brush your teeth,
- taking lunch to work, or
- cutting coupons from flyers.
Start with habits you know you can build on. Be sure to repeat them often enough to make them second nature, and then, step up to more challenging habits such as:
- getting your books from the library instead of the bookstore,
- going for a walk in the park instead of going to the mall for entertainment, or
- when and where possible, taking public transit into work instead of your car.
Once you have discovered the joys of thrift – and have set up and are following your budget, be sure to stay focused on your goals and have fun!