Don't expect this to be some kind of motivational speaker-esque post about how to make goals. We've all heard it before. And it's all true - goals keep us focused and motivated. They have to be concrete or they are just wishes, really. Plus, there's the one tidbit of advice we've heard a million times over: write down your goals or they won't happen. Keep them specific, too.
So how does this apply to frugality? It goes way beyond just wanting to save money. There have to be specific, clearly defined goals behind your desire. This is where it's completely personal. One person may want to live more frugally to save up for a down payment for a house or to get out of debt; another may simply want to cut a few expenses just so they can afford a day at the spa once in a while or a trip to Disneyland with their family. The motivations behind living frugally can be long or short term, in my opinion. What may be a lifestyle for one, may just be a means to an end for another.
This leads to the beautiful relationship between goals and frugality. If there is a concrete goal present, you won't feel deprived. There have been many times where I will be standing over a steaming pot of homemade chicken stock, stitching up a hole in a skirt, or sitting at the kitchen table clipping coupons when I could have looked at it as drudgery. I could have been annoyed at the fact that it would be so much easier to just buy some store-bought box of stock, or a new skirt, or to skip the coupons altogether (what's a few bucks anyway?). Instead, though, I look at these things, as well as all the other things I do, as an opportunity. By just cooking something from scratch that may take longer or making a piece of clothing go just a little further, I'm moving toward something better.
My two top goals include getting out of debt (this is the year - we're almost there...) and building up an emergency fund (six months worth of expenses). Number three on the list, though not as practical as the first two but important in its own right, is a travel fund for our family. I have this dream to travel everywhere with my family - to take my kids all over the country and even all over the world (this article got me really daydreaming). To have these three things, I will be more than happy to scrub the shower with baking soda instead of some special spray, to not get any more TV channels, and to skip the convenience of frozen/pre-made foods, to name just a few.
Then there's the short-term goals. I like saving on some grocery purchases so I can spend more on others, allowing me to buy healthier, sometimes organic, foods. Or so I can buy more eco-friendly soaps and detergents. Or simply so I can save up a little money here and there to get a set of Le Creuset pots someday. I know my husband gladly patch up a pair of pants, change the oil in the car, or cut his own hair so he can buy a new video game or movie instead. It's all about trade-offs and knowing exactly what you want. This is the secret to enjoying a frugal mindset - it opens the door to more than you expect and to the things in life you really want.
So, what are your goals?