Frugality Goes Against Human Nature
I find it interesting how often financial topics can become intertwined with philosophical ones. Your ability to exercise frugality is dependent on your ability to tell yourself that you don't need something that you want. In Buddhism, there are cornerstones that say "Suffering exists in the world," and "The root of all suffering is desire." Desire is what separates us from the present; what separates us from ourselves. Whenever we are dissatisfied with any condition in our life, be it in a monetary sense or other, it is because we compare it to any number of things which include, but are not limited to: perceiving others with more, reflecting on our former selves that once had more, advertising and media putting ideas in our head that we are inadequate if we don't have/ get more, the list goes on. This is why frugality is fundamentally contrary to how people behave. It takes a great deal of self actualization to repeatedly integrate frugality and a sense of being present in your everyday life. This is especially true in a western society that reinforces the idea, encourages it, and blasts it into the minds of the populous with a fire hose.
What can you do to be more present and cultivate an attitude of frugality at all times? Or, more critically, when you really want to spend money on something and that desire enters your heart? Firstly, desire is rooted in dissatisfaction. Thoughts like: My car is a piece of shit. My house is too small. My significant other doesn't make enough money. The key in squelching these thoughts is to simply look around and appreciate all that you have. It's not difficult to do. Evaluation is rooted in comparison, but it is indeed possible to appreciate what you have around you without comparing.
For example, I know that my 2006 Acura RSX is a fine automobile. It's got 131,000 miles, air conditioning (or a pathetic 4 cylinder's attempt at it - pardon my pessimism), and a touch over 200 horsepower. It gets me where I need to go with about 25 MPG to boot. It's easy to take any set of modern automobile criteria, and when looking at that data side by side with my Acura, my car looks like a turd!. It has less horsepower than what could be considered any modern "sports" car. It doesn't have any tech, such as Bluetooth connectivity, OnStar (is that still a thing?), side airbags, heated seats, need I go on? But despite in all of these areas where it's lacking, in the grand scheme of things, I don't care.
This is the conclusion one comes to whenever you actually think critically about what you have vs. what you want. It boils down to you not actually caring about the additional features, tech, safety, and perceived satisfaction that you might get from obtaining a new car. You have something that gets you from A to B - maybe even reliably!
This begs the question: so what luxuries should I cave in to desire for? Well, going back to the Buddhist mentality, nothing. That's right, rid yourself of all desire, and you will achieve nirvana. Yeah - that Nirvana. Since we know it isn't exactly practical for every person, apply some hard and fast rules to your spending, and go nuts within your boundaries. For example, unless you're super into cars as a hobby, you should never spend more than 10% of your gross annual income on a vehicle. It is simple enough to set a similar rule to things such as: the house you live in (no more than 3X your annual income, for example), or limiting it to size, such as 600 square feet per person living there, plus 100 square feet for each animal you have.
You already have all the tools you need to be present and frugal. You just need to realize you're already holding a hammer when you see a nail. The media wants you to go buy a 50 pound sledge, instead of the simple claw hammer we all carry around with us. In the western world we are particularly blessed with an abundance, perhaps an overabundance, of nearly every necessity in life. And with that comes the entitlement for more. People like you and I can take that knowledge and use it to our advantage, knowing full well the nature of human beings. Simply be present and appreciate what you have, and you will find mental and financial abundance. One instantly, the other in just a short matter of time.