Living frugally. It’s a topic that needs to be discussed more as our western society is in the constant need of wanting more, bigger and better. It’s a topic of conversation that needs to be delved in as our planet is being harmed by the overconsumption of material and mass goods and mass productions. We are depleting our planet. We are harming our Earth. We are causing overflowing landfills into rivers and streams and endangering wild life by our mass production and disposal of plastic and plastic products.
While I have written and discussed the topic of living a minimalistic lifestyle I want to further discuss this topic in the manner of living frugally. Frugal does not mean cheap. Frugal does not mean second best or denying oneself although this can be a part of frugality. Being frugal means being intentional and prioritizing when an expense should be made in place of when an expense should be spurred. Living a frugal lifestyle can invite joy into our lives by simplifying our lives and eliminating the belief that we always deserve to splurge and spoil ourselves. Though this may sound contradictory to previous posts where I explain how important it is to use your best on a daily basis and to treat yourself luxuriously daily I affirm that this does in fact go hand and hand.
Living frugally means prioritizing what is most valuable in place of what is not. It means making wise choices when shopping and spending money. It means living within your means and honoring special occasions with special touches. For me living frugally is more of a necessity than anything else. As a single mother I need to be sure that the money I make and the little bit that I receive in child support is stretched as much as possible so that our vital bills such as shelter, utilities, insurance, childcare, and gas are paid on time. I ensure you this is no easy feat. Sometimes child support doesn’t come in, sometimes it comes in late, inconsistently or simply just not at all. Unfortunately this does not mean that basic needs can be pushed aside. The bills don’t stop coming simply because the funds do. In order to manage my household and family I have to sacrifice and say no to many things in order that we may have what we truly need.
Living frugally for me means not buying my favorite daily latte which can cost upwards five dollars or more depending on whether it’s iced or cold, small or medium. Instead I had to make the decision that lattes would instead be a treat and purchased only when I would use the time to socialize as I do occasionally with a friend of mine’s or to use as bonding time with my teenage daughter. Gone we’re the days of daily or even weekly lattes and in place I learned to make other morning caffeinated teas at home for a fraction of the cost to replace my daily need.
Living frugally means shopping my own closet and using what I already have in my closet for a special event as opposed to a visit to the specialty boutique or department store. It meant learning how to get over my bias and fear of thrifting and learning how to buy preloved clothing and items for pennies on the dollar. It means fixing and not replacing what has been used or damaged. Investing in key quality goods is seen rather as an investment if the decision is made properly. Back in my early twenties I invested about 800 dollars on a pair of Prada prescription lenses. Though I have had to have some maintenance done the cost of the frame has paid itself over in the past ten or more years. When given the option to replace the frame or pay the fifty or so dollars to repair damages I opted for the latter. There was no sense in spending money on frames that may end up not being quality frames and needing to replace those in a year or so.
I wish living frugally meant eating out less. For many this is a component of living frugally as they only eat out on special occasions. For me being a single mom and having long days at the office and then homework to help in or just needing time to sit on the couch it hasn’t been possible. I do order out a few days a week whether it’s pizza, burgers and fries or something of that nature. Typical these meals are for days that I work nine hour days and am too exhausted to spend or hour or more in the kitchen. Although we don’t go to an actual restaurant to have a meal we do eat outside food more often than I care to admit. Hopefully it the future I can cut down from three meals out to two meals out. My goal is eventually just one meal out a week.
For me living frugally means not buying into the notion that I have to have one or two fabulous vacations a year. For the past three years I’ve had expensive family vacations. One includes a trip to Disney World. Another a trip to Bermuda. Another included two back to back trips of upstate New York and New Jersey. While these trips were beneficial and impactful they also affected my finances. I’m not paying for one plane ticket. I am paying for three. I am also paying for three meals out for three individuals for the duration of however long the vacation is. It’s simply not feasible to do on a yearly basis. Those three years cost me about 12k on airfare, meals, entertainment and accommodations. Moving forward I’ve decided that until my financial goal is met in my savings account that I will not partake in a vacation that will cost more than 1200 for the year. That being said, 2019 will be a Summer full of beaches, lakes and amusement parks but no big travel.
It’s difficult to live like this for sure when your married friends are traveling three times a year and going out on the town weekly. It’s challenging when you log on social media and see people doing exotic international travels while meeting their other goals but the truth is we are all on our own path and our own journey. Just because we must be frugal doesn’t mean that we can’t enjoy life. There has to be a newfound enjoyment in simplicity and the little things in life. There has to be joy in having time to sip on a tea and read your favorite book or have an at home spa day as your momentary treat.
While I would absolutely love to splurge on an LV monogram wallet or on Valentino rockstar pumps the reality is that I can’t. I can’t spend that kind of money whether on credit or cash and then not have child support come in for a month and have a safety nest that I can buy groceries from and school supplies with. I simply can’t do it all.
Living frugally has caused a rift in my social life. It means saying no more often than I’d like to admit but I’m saying no to the nonessential so that I can say yes to the essentials, the necessaries and the bigger goal. Frugality means buying my makeup from Target and not Mac or Sephora. It means doing face masks at home and not at a spa. Frugality means learning to manage my unruly curls on my own and opting for the salon only a few times a year.
While it can feel constricting and confining we can also use the opportunity to decide why we “choose” not to splurge. Why we “choose” to build a financial nest and why we “choose” to put off instant gratification in search of long term success. It starts in the mind. Today I remind myself frugality is a shift. A shift in the mind to not buy in to how everyone else is living and rather how we can live best and do it so… within our means.