Living Frugally: Focus on the Future

I know several very short-sighted people. They live for the moment, they don’t plan far into the future and as a result, they are always running low on time, money, and freedom. Their time is always short because they constantly squander it. A daily planner is almost a foreign tool in their minds. They refuse to set alarms with the tools at their disposal (e.g. smartphones) to remind them of important events. The result is a negative impact on their time, which impacts their freedom. These individuals have no time to relax because they don’t take the time to prepare. In other words, they failed to “begin with the end in mind.”

Take the Long View

Similarly, the short-sighted person is always low on money, simply spending for today. Conversely, the frugally-minded individual is, more often than not, a future-focused individual. They know that events outside of their control can happen at any time. Perhaps there is a natural disaster or they have a child that ends up in the hospital emergency room.

Mountain Views

If I were asked what I consider to be the most important reason for living frugally, it would be the uncertain future. It constantly amazes me that so many people buy expensive engagement rings, get married, get a big house, luxury car, and a timeshare right out the gate on their journey together. This is the definition of a lack of future-focus. A frugal couple will have a financial plan together before the wedding. This plan will include a house that fits their needs with a bit of room for expansion in case there are suddenly twins on the scene. This financial plan will also include an emergency fund of at least six months, and a plan to create a credit cushion on their accounts. It’s much smarter to be ahead on your bills than just being caught up.

Be Ready for the Unexpected

Why are these things important? Because, when tragedy strikes, the frugal individual will be better positioned to write a check or use their debit card to deal with the situation quickly, steady themselves for the next unknown occurrence, and prepare to move onto the most important things, like spending time with family.

Savings - Piggy Bank Prisma Caribbean

Imagine this. Your rent is paid up three months in advance, so is your cell phone bill, and your car note. You have also paid off your credit card, but you have also sent in an additional $200 dollar payment anyway, creating a credit. In this situation, you have prepared for the future. So now, in the event of an emergency – such as when little Suzy ends up in the hospital for two months – you have the ability to forgo rent for a while, pay for added fuel for driving back and forth to the hospital, and maybe a babysitter for the younger kids while mom and dad visit big sister.

Final Thoughts

A frugal spender looks for deals, browses the clearance racks, loves garage sales, and often shops at thrift stores or pawn shops. They do these things not because they are cheap, but because with the money they save, they can plan and pay ahead on many bills in order to prepare themselves for unforeseen circumstances or the occasional emergency.

As you consider your future and develop your financial plans, don’t forget to “begin with the end in mind.”

Blogger-in-Chief here at RetirementSavvy and author of Sin City Greed, Cream City Hustle and RENDEZVOUS WITH RETIREMENT: A Guide to Getting Fiscally Fit.


  1. Great post James. So many people don’t take the emergency fund seriously. Sigh! I even suggest 8 months to a year of cash, depending on age and potential job opportunities (or lack of).

    There’s one piece of advice I wish working couples would take toward the long view, especially if they can’t make it on one income. That is, each should learn another skill while both are employed. There’s a ton of free or almost free courses on Udemy. Heck, you can even take online free courses offered by Google on analytics that can lead to freelance work.

    • Indeed. A solid emergency fund is a must. While I tend to recommend 3-6 months, a good friend maintains one year. Couldn’t agree more with the idea of multiple skill sets. Although I’d have to go back and find it, I’m pretty certain I’ve written a post on the topic in the past.

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, my friend.

  2. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have you book-marked to look at new stuff you post…

  3. I think it’s most important to strike a balance in as many aspects as possible. I travel a lot because I value those experiences, but I also max out my retirement accounts and work hard to continually increase my income as much as possible. A life in balance keeps both the now and the future in mind!

    • Absolutely agree that there has to be a balance… though it can be a challenge to attain and maintain. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, Jen.

    • Very well said Jen @ The Happy Homeowner. Creating memories while keeping the future in mind is an important skill. One can travel, go to movies, plays, etc. in order to create memories while being sure to contribute to retirement & creating assets. Balance is critical. Thanks for the comment.

  4. Thanks for taking a few minutes to read the article Lorillia. I hope to see your comments more often.

  5. I am a big advocate of starting with the end in mind. I like how you related it to personal finance. You are correct, planning is an essential tool that is foreign to most people.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lorillia and joining the conversation. We hope you stop by often to participate in the Savvy Discussions, Quizzes, and Recommendations.

  6. “Begin with the end in mind.” A very good way to describe the frugal mind set. I have always been someone who naturally plans for the what-if scenario and just feel a degree of comfort knowing that I can take care of myself if the unexpected happens. Aside from that, the “end” that I have in mind is to stop working for someone else as early as I can and fill my life doing exactly what matters most to me. If I ever hope to get there, I have to be frugal and self-sufficient.

    I enjoy this weekly series!

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