If you ask me, I’m a frugal person. I like that personality trait; it suits me well. And in fact, I do exhibit some very frugal habits, including:
- Buying clothes used
- Making dinner most nights
- Driving an unassuming sedan (paid for, no desire to buy another one)
- Living on half my income
- Bringing my lunch to work most days
- Making homemade gifts for my friends and family (Mrs. 1500, I haven’t forgotten about you, the caramels just need to be wrapped!)
- Living with less — donating more, opting for space in my home rather than stuff
- Only debt is mortgage
Some of the above might seem difficult to you. You might think I don’t live a happy, fulfilled life because I define myself as frugal. But it’s quite the opposite. My life is full because I am frugal. I can afford to do things I wasn’t able to do when I still had credit card debt.
I can take time off to be with my dying mom.
I can continue to take time to be with my family.
I can get a puppy (who, just now, climbed on the laptop and took a screenshot — he’s pretty tech savvy).
I can say yes when my friend Andi asks if I want to go to lunch. That alone is an accomplishment. Not too many years ago, spending $10 (and losing an hour of work!) would send me into panic mode. Sometimes I’d still go, trying to hide my stress. But now, it’s just a matter of scheduling. How’s Thursday instead of Tuesday? is so much better than can we wait until after payday?
Many of the things I do are not frugal, by anyone’s definition. See above puppy for a great example. But that’s just it, isn’t it? My friend Anna’s tagline is “saving where we can so we can spend where we want” and that seems just about perfect to me.
So, if you’re interested in setting up a frugal life, that’s really great. Frugality will get you far, and help you appreciate when you’re no longer living in the margins.
Determine your priorities.
Save for them.
More importantly, figure out what isn’t important. And cut that expense all the way.
Cut everything that doesn’t matter, then focus on what does.
For me, that’s:
- Lunch, dinner, happy hour, brunch with friends
- Weekends away
- Fancy date nights on occasion (though, let’s be honest, he usually pays)
- Leaving work early to do something fun
- Taking a day off to treat myself
What’s important to you?
What could you leave out?