Think about your answer to that question. What do you carry every day? Do you put your hands in your pockets and tell me that you have a wallet, phone, and keys? Maybe you’re a student and you think about your backpack – its books, binders, spiral notebooks, and more.
These physical objects carry a weight; they follow us, contained within pockets, bags, and purses. We can feel them throughout our day, if we are mindful. Unfortunately, if you only responded to the physical, you’d be answering the wrong question – especially if you care to be frugal.
Psychological textbooks love to talk about the image in the top-right. Why? Because it’s a trick of the mind. Your vision tends to process either the figure or ground. Do you see the two faces? Or, do you see a vase? Depends on your vision! This rule is aptly named: figure-ground perception.
Apply it to your life and ask yourself, are you focused on what’s physically or emotionally weighing you down?
Testing Frugality’s Limits
I created this site in early May of this year. Born of a growing dissatisfaction with my debt and an aim to right my course, I decided to start my journey back to zero. But despite starting this site and having a clear goal, staying frugal has been difficult.
There are plenty of excuses I’ve used: I’m a long-distance relationship, a graduate student, young and social, and the list goes on an on. What I’m saying, emotionally and mentally, is that I deserve to spend more than I make. At times, it can be difficult to fight the urge to spend unnecessarily or more than I have to. There are competing desires.
As my inner voice shows, if you’re just joining the frugal journey, you’re in for one helluva ride. Psychologically, your biggest test will be seeing what triggers your response to spend. How can you stay focused in your life, reduce your spending, and enjoy your life more? It sounds like a bad sales pitch, but that’s really the goal. How do you find that?
Reduce, Reuse, Reframe
For me, it all goes back to my emotional well-being. If, on the inside, I feel happy, positive, and strong, it’s relatively easy to overcome spending pitfalls. Sometimes I crack and feel like I deserve to have something. My shoes have pretty serious wear in them, but they still work. Do I deserve to have a new pair?
I’ve chosen to reframe these difficult tests: I deserve to be debt-free by working hard to overcome this. While simple to understand, it’s hard to begin to believe. I do deserve to be debt-free, but that’s only if I work through my psychological barriers that cause me to spend beyond my budget.