Frugal is a word that we rarely hear spoken in our market economy. We live in a land of plenty, and it is difficult to adopt a lifestyle characterized by purchasing just what we need and little more. The desire to have is ingrained in us at a young age. We are bombarded by media messages encouraging us to spend money that we may not have on things that we often do not need. We subconsciously heed the messages with little regard for the impact of our decisions now or in the future. Becoming more thoughtful about how we spend our resources is what “frugal thinking” is all about.

Poor decisions on how we spend our resources often lead to excessive debt, and more specifically credit card debt. Nerd Wallet analyzed data from several sources, including the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U.S. Census Bureau, to determine how much debt Americans are carrying. It was determined that the average family, with credit card debt, has an average balance of $16,425. This debt is normally high interest and often carries an annual percentage rate (APR) of 20% or more if you carry a balance. Carrying debt has been characterized as walking around with a ball and chain. With it comes a great deal of stress that is constantly with you.

The average person has a desire for freedom from debt but is unclear about how to attain it. One way to do it is to utilize a budget. Most people avoid budgets, because we often do not want to deprive ourselves. A budget provides the opportunity to plan and make financial allocations on paper before making actual commitments. It provides a measure of control and allows us to be more disciplined. In addition to budgeting, it could also be helpful to partner with a mentor or coach who can provide tools and strategies. Becoming frugal is something that may take both time and commitment. Budgeting and getting help doing so can serve as an important component in living and being more comfortable with having a little less. It may also provide freedom from excessive debt.