Frugal Living in Australia; 13 reasons why I CHOOSE frugality

Frugal living in Australia; it’s not a recipe for missing out and a life of sacrifice. It’s quite the opposite! I choose frugality for many reasons, but the most important for me is for financial security. As a single mum, I never want to go back to broke. So here are 13 reasons why I choose to live a frugal lifestyle.

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Introduction

I have always managed my money quite well, but when my son’s father left us when Andy was 3 years old and I was left without any money, I had to find ways to live even more frugally. I knew I didn’t want to struggle financially and I wanted to give my son a good quality of life, but also find a way to set ourselves up for the future. After finding some creative ways to save more money and making some sacrifices along the way, I found that my frugality was really paying off.

I managed to save $100,000 within a few years and put a deposit on my first home. You can read my Money Saving Tips for 2023 in my article HERE.

After seeing the rewards a frugal lifestyle could bring, it was only motivation to continue to find other ways to save money, that weren’t all about online surveys and eating beans and rice.

I have recently reflected upon my decisions to live a frugal life, after some interesting conversations with some friends, and after watching some of the people closest to me live a life that seems to be a constant financial struggle.

So I summarised my reasons.

Here are 13 reasons why I choose frugal habits and a thrifty life.

Frugal Living in Australia – Here are 13 reasons why I choose to live frugally

1 – So I don’t struggle financially

One of the first things I thought about when I split with my son’s father was how I refused to live a life of struggle. One of my closest family members actually said to me, “You’re a single mum now Liz, it’s going to be hard and you’re going to struggle.

While it definitely has been hard at times, I refused to become the stereotype and I couldn’t think of anything worse than constantly feeling ‘broke’. I had been there. It was scary and upsetting. So I vowed to never be broke again.

I found ways to live more and more frugally so that I could reach my biggest financial goal which was to buy my own home. I achieved this a few years ago and it was a very proud moment. Once I bought my home, I then felt broke again.. haha. My next goal was to pay off consumer debt and build an Emergency Fund. I managed to pay off my credit cards and the personal loan I took out, and get my emergency fund to a juicy $30k at one point and this felt amazing.

emergency fund, frugal living in Australia.
Building a large Emergency Fund is key when living frugally

My point is, working towards financial goals gave me direction and forced me to assess my income and track my spending. This in turn meant that each step I took toward my financial goal was a step further away from broke. These financial goals and achievements all compound to mean I’m not living week to week, I don’t feel myself struggling financially and I feel in control. Something I never felt until, ironically, I was a single parent, on a single income. You can read about my experience with Financial Abuse in my article HERE or on the My Millennial Podcast with Glen James HERE1.

2 – To build a large Emergency Fund

Saving money for a home loan was one thing, but saving money to build an emergency fund is a whole different level of financial security. Admittedly in my past, I used to use credit cards as my emergency fund and then hated when those interest payments would come out. Once I was able to build my emergency fund to $30,000 (leaving it in my mortgage offset account to reduce interest payable on my mortgage), I felt like a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders.

If I was living week to week, if I was not finding ways to spend less money and save it, I wouldn’t be able to build this emergency fund which gives me peace of mind, financial security and the ability to deal with almost any sudden financial emergency.

I’m now at the point where I cannot imagine being without my emergency fund.

3 – So I can invest (for my future)

When my emergency fund is juicy enough that it can stay stable, any extra income I receive, after living expenses are paid, I like to invest into ETF shares2. There are many studies to show that the only way to beat inflation is to invest your money, so that that money does not erode over time.

Investing in shares means I receive some passive income in the way of dividends, and it also means I’m putting money away for my future. How I use that money in my future is yet to be determined, but in my mind, there is no point leaving money sitting around as cash, or in a bank account earning very little interest. So I invest it. Investing can be risky but I have done my research and decided I am comfortable with the amount I am investing, as well as my choice of ETF shares and my knowledge of how the stock market fluctuates.

investing, frugal living tips
I invest in ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) to improve my financial future and for passive income in the way of dividends.

It’s important to me to continue to work towards financial goals and take care of my financial future one small step at a time. So I educated myself on investing and just started.

4 – To avoid consumer debt (and further wasting of money)

Consumer debt is the worst! I hate being in debt, and so consumer debt/bad debt3 whatever you choose to call it, is the worst because it usually comes with high-interest repayments. Credit cards, car loans, personal loans, Buy Now Pay Later schemes are all examples of consumer debt and I have done everything in my power to avoid them.

I am not perfect and I have been caught out with these kinds of debt in the past, but I learned from my mistakes and make sure that my emergency fund is so chunky, so juicy, that it will cover pretty much any sudden unexpected costs that come up, such as car repairs, medical bills, broken appliances that need replacing, THE PUPPY I DECIDED TO BUY FOR MY SON’S BIRTHDAY!!!, quick weekends away (hey, it’s my emergency fund, and it can be used for fun too!)

Having consumer debt and not getting rid of it ASAP means you’re wasting money on monthly fees in the way of interest, which can put you further behind and makes it harder to save and get ahead. So, now, I avoid it at all costs.

5 – Promotes minimalism and reduces clutter

As much as I love to live a minimalist life, I still have a long way to go on this one, and still too much clutter, but I try to reduce it whenever I can. Living frugally and finding extra ways to save, means I often sell my household items, sometimes to make a little money back, and sometimes for a profit. At one point, I had about 200 listings on FB marketplace and Gumtree and I was making hundreds of dollars in cash sales. You can read my best tips on selling items online HERE, but making extra money in this way is huge motivation to continue decluttering and finding things within your household that serve no purpose to you anymore, which you can sell for cash.

This in turn reduces your clutter which makes for a tidier, more organised, cleaner and calmer space, and really makes you re-evaluate future purchases too.

de cluttering
De cluttering improves your living space, may earn you some extra cash and helps you re-evaluate future purchases.

6 – Gives me more time freedom and flexibility of work schedule

When I decided to leave my job as child care director last year, I received a long service leave payout which helped to boost my emergency fund, and since then, my work has been very flexible which I love. I work from home doing website management and I also do casual primary school teaching. Both of these jobs are extremely flexible – I can pick my days and decide when not to work. Having a full emergency fund means I have even more flexibility over my work/life balance.

If my son has an appointment or a school carnival he wants me to attend, I can take the day off to allow for that. I can then choose to work a few hours on the weekend to make up for it, or simply not make up for it, and if need be, use my emergency fund.

Time freedom and flexibility of work schedule is very important to me now after spending more than 20 years in child care centres, working long hours with unpaid overtime, and with a very unflexible work life.

7 – It does not bring me joy having all the nicest things

Some of my family and friends love to have all the nicest things. Clothes, kitchen crockery, appliances, furniture, manchester, home furnishings, cars, bars and even groceries.

After really analysing what it is that I value, I can truly say that I do not value having the nicest of all the things. What I do value is flexibility of work schedule, being able to afford weekends away and holidays away, fun experiences, a facial and a massage every now and then, nice meals out every now and then, providing opportunities for my son Andy to do extra curricular activities (not too many – you can read about my thoughts on that HERE) such as karate and soccer, and pay his school camp fees without a problem. I also want to continue working towards financial goals and I KNOW that if I did love having all the nice things, I could not spend money on the things I actually do value, or put money away for my future.

op shop, frugality
Op Shopping brings me joy! Not having ALL the nicest things.. It’s important to decide what kind of spending you value the most.

For those that love having the nice things, the best brands or the top rated appliances and the fancy clothes, power to you! Maybe you don’t value the weekends away like I do, or maybe you don’t like facials and massages and maybe you’re not worried about your financial future, but this is me, and those nice things don’t bring me joy anyway. I have fun in Op Shops!

8 – If I want to splurge on something, I CAN, without guilt

I really don’t splurge that often, but if I didn’t have a decent savings stash, I wouldn’t even consider it. If it meant going into debt, I would rather sell a household item to pay for the splurge, rather than experience the personal guilt of going into debt.

So, my savings and my financial situation, which are a result of my frugal living lifestyle, allow me to feel like if I want to splurge on a relaxing facial, a nice dinner out or a weekend away, I can! Without that guilt. Or the debt.

9 – To teach my son important money lessons

One of the most important things I want to teach my son is financial literacy and the importance of understanding exactly where our money goes, how to manage it effectively, how to avoid personal debt and how educating yourself on personal finance is invaluable, and necessary, to place yourself in the best financial position possible, and to build personal wealth.

I have talked to my son about the dangers of credit card debt, about investing and the power of compound interest4, I have talked to him about inflation and what the ‘cost of living’ means, as well as how to read price labels when grocery shopping and how to ask for better deals.

money lessons for kids, frugal living
Teaching my son Andy important money lessons is very important to me. I don’t want him to be as financially illiterate as I was at 18.

I continue to teach him little lessons along the way, and he has been very receptive to learning which is great!

The bottom line is, I don’t want Andy to turn 18 and have a lack of basic financial literacy, as was the case for me at the age of 18. Frugal living and little money lessons along the way will hopefully make a big difference to my son’s financial future.

10 – Helps the environment

There are many ways that frugal living can help the environment and help us to live more sustainably. A minimalist lifestyle means less consumption and less unnecessary purchases. A motivation to save money means we can recycle and repurpose different items.

Getting kids involved in sustainable practices at home helps them to learn how to take care of their environment, and helps them to learn how these practices can also save us money!

Watering our plants so they provide food for us, borrowing library books rather than buying new books saves paper, meal planning and batch cooking saves us money on buying individual meals and saves on packaging too.

Making small changes that have a positive impact on our environment, usually also saves us a bit of money so it’s a win win, and helps teach my son important lessons too.

11 – So I can enjoy holidays (debt free)

I love taking holidays! The feeling of freedom, fun experiences, different cultures, adventure, trying new restaurants, sleeping in, and entertainment, what’s not to love? I hate being in debt and there’s no way I could afford to take my son on holidays if I didn’t have savings and if I was living week to week.

holidays, frugality
I love going on holidays but I now SAVE for them. If a holiday meant going into debt, are you really going to enjoy yourself??

So I make sure we live frugally MOST of the time, so that splurging a little bit on holidays can actually feel good and feel guilt free.

Who wants to come home from holidays with a debt hangover anyway?? Not me..

12 – Helps you identify where your values lie

Living frugally helps you to re evaluate where your values lie and what kind of spending is really important to you versus what is NOT important to you, or what doesn’t bring you joy. As I have mentioned above, people have asked me why I don’t spend some of my savings on some more expensive branded clothes, or a fancy dinner set or better home furnishings, but these are things I don’t really care for. I would rather not spend money on these things so I can afford a facial, a weekend away with the girls, or so I can buy some more shares. You can’t buy it all!

Identifying where your values lie is super important for anyone on the road to financial independence5, as it can help to give you direction and track and assess your spending.

sharesight

What do you value, and where do you like to spend your money? What do you not care about when it comes to spending? I would love to hear your thoughts.. (tell me in the comments below).

kids first aid

13 – Reduces stress, increases contentment and happiness!

Frugal living that leads to a large emergency fund, clear financial goals and strategies to get you there, as well as a growing commitment to ongoing education in the financial space can lead to reduced stress levels, it can increase your contentment and boost your mood and overall happiness!

I know where all my money goes and I know exactly how much is incoming too. I have worked hard to achieve a certain level of financial security, and although our current economic climate is uncertain, our cost of living is rising6, as are the interest rates, I know I have many skills that mean I am very employable, and I aim to continue to live below my means and save and invest the difference.

frugal living in Australia
Frugality means I live my life with less stress and more contentment.

The general anxiety I felt when I was newly single with a 3 year old, broke and without family support, working full time managing child care centres, is mountains away from my general feelings of contentment and happiness now. I put that down to good planning, good money management, personal financial education, a proactive attitude towards saving and frugal living, and good personal reflection on where my values lie in terms of spending.

If you want to read more about Frugality, The Frugalwoods have a great article HERE7 on ’19 reasons why Frugality is the best thing that’s ever happened to me’. It’s a great read!

Summary

Sometimes there is an assumption that a frugal living lifestyle means missing out on life’s pleasures, or means sacrificing the now for the future, but it’s actually the opposite. I choose frugality so I’m not scraping for spare change to do a grocery shop, so I don’t have to say no to my son when it comes to school camp, and so I can actually take holidays here and there. Living frugally most of the time can bring financial security and make us wealthier in the long term.

If you’re after inspiration, you can read my best frugal living tips HERE, and I have an article on how to score free food and free groceries in my article HERE.

So there it is; 13 reasons why I choose a frugal lifestyle and how it has helped me to significantly improve my financial situation, goal after goal.

Now tell me about you!

Do you like to live frugally? Why or why not?

Do you budget for your weekly grocery shop, or just wing it?

Do you always shop around for the best deal, do you compare interest rates and bank accounts?

Maybe you have a spending diary, or you’re a fan of loyalty programs?

Many Australians are tightening the belt so to speak and finding ways to get ahead (or not fall behind) financially, but the way in which people do this can vary significantly, and that’s what I find really interesting!

Reference List:

  1. ‘Financial abuse and recognising your self-worth’, My Millennial Money Podcast. Accessed online at https://shows.acast.com/my-millennial-money/episodes/62f9eeb4a1d31b0012079e8d on March 13, 2023.
  2. ‘Exchange traded funds (ETFs)’, MoneySmart.gov.au. Accessed online at https://moneysmart.gov.au/managed-funds-and-etfs/exchange-traded-funds-etfs on March 13, 2023.
  3. ‘Bad Debt; What Is It, And How To Get Out Of It!’, Captain Fi, CaptainFi.com. Published: Oct 2, 2022. Accessed online at https://captainfi.com/bad-debt/ on March 13, 2023.
  4. ‘The Power of Compound Interest: Calculations and Examples’, Jason Fernando, Investopedia. Published (updated): July 19, 2022. Accessed online at https://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/compoundinterest.asp on March 13, 2023.
  5. ‘How to make financial independence inevitable’, Dave Gow, Pearler. Published: Jan 3, 2023. Accessed online at https://pearler.com/explore/learn/blog/how-to-make-financial-independence-inevitable?utm_source=google&utm_medium=g&utm_campaign=&utm_content=&utm_term=&campaign_id=17700679609&adset_id=136845628697&ad_id=610724156288&gclid=Cj0KCQiAjbagBhD3ARIsANRrqEs8-OplMOaDyF8VnEXRq9R_5eUV8IrYJmL8I8r8ookyPoJzEyehTIYaAvE3EALw_wcB on March 13, 2023.
  6. ‘Australians are struggling with increasing cost-of-living pressures. Here’s how inflation is driving up the prices of common goods’, Shiloh Payne, ABC NEWS. Published: Jan 27, 2023. Accessed online at https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-01-27/consumer-price-index-categories/101863456 on March 13, 2023.
  7. ’19 Reasons Why Frugality Is The Best Thing That’s Ever Happened To Me’, Mrs Frugalwoods, Frugalwoods.com. Published: May 17, 2017. Accessed online at https://www.frugalwoods.com/2017/05/17/19-reasons-why-frugality-is-the-best-thing-thats-ever-happened-to-me/ on March 13, 2023.

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