I started being frugal out of necessity. I wanted to live a life free of a 9-to-5 job and I wanted to live on my own terms.
When I quit my job at the University of Washington to start my business, Prelaw Guru (formerly known as The Personal Statement School), I knew that it would take years to make a good living. In most cases, it takes 7-10 years to foster and grow a successful freelance business.
I had started two solo businesses in the past that failed (though they were great learning experiences). I thought for years that I wouldn’t go into business again. It was much easier to just go to work and have someone else pay me. But, seven years after closing my last business, the freelance bug bit again. I wanted to run my own show once more.
I had to figure out ways to spend less money so that my business-building years were not unbearable. I really didn’t want to get another job so I started to learn how to be super frugal–or what I like to call Super Frug (pron. sooper froog).
Being Super Frug is not about being cheap. It’s not about the lowest price. It is about quality over quantity. If you buy quality, then you only have to buy once…most of the time. Something of quality will last you for decades, if not the rest of your life. Buying less means you have more money to save and/or spend on other areas that are important to you. It also means less waste.
Being Super Frug also means understanding what quality is. It means doing research to find the best buy. For example, studies show that in blind taste tests, consumers often like less expensive store-brand foods (called “generic” or “plain wrap”) about the same, or better, than pricier name-brand foods. Makes sense. Who do you think makes the generic store-brand foods? The same manufacturers that make the brand-name foods! Understanding quality will help you save money.
Lastly, being Super Frug is knowing what’s important to you. Many of us spend on things that we get little or no satisfaction from. Often we blame it all on not making enough money. As the old saying goes, the more you earn, the more you spend. You spend more and yet, you’re not more satisfied. It’s a never-ending cycle. I say, get off the consumerist carousel! Pay attention to how you spend your money now. Figure out what’s most important to you and spend your money on those things. Spend less on the things you don’t care about.
While I’ve always been frugal in some way (learning from my immigrant Taiwanese parents who worked themselves from poor into the middle-class), it wasn’t until I was nearly 40 that I learned how to be truly frugal. My point is, it’s never too late.
Becoming Super Frug helped me to pinpoint exactly how much money I have and how I’m using it. I’m more satisfied with how I spend and save money now than I’ve ever been.
You can be Super Frug too. Just remember these 3 points:
1) quality over quantity,
2) understand what quality is; and
3) know what’s important to you.