Hi all. Can I admit something? Sometimes not spending money can be REALLY REALLY REALLY hard. In a lot of ways, being frugal really does simplify your life, but I have to admit, I do miss some of the conveniences and luxuries of spending money.
Part of frugality is to simply not buy stuff you don’t need. I have found that part to be the easiest to integrate into life. For example, I have a closet full of clothes, so I just don’t go to the mall anymore. We’ve been successfully living in our house for several years and have survived this far, so we probably don’t need any random household gadgets. Simple solution, I just don’t go to department stores to look at non-consumable household items we don’t need.
A different, and for me harder, part of frugality is doing things yourself that you may have otherwise paid for. When we started our frugal journey, a major change for us was to cut out going out to eat. I would often come home from work on Friday, tired and ready to just throw in the towel. So we would go out to eat. At the time I did not appreciate how truly awesome going out to eat was, it was just something we did almost every Friday as a way to escape responsibility for the night. Now that we’ve cut that out, I’ve realized what a luxury it is to have someone else make your food and do all the clean up work for you. It’s awesome, amazing, and wonderful, but it comes at an unfortunately steep price. Now, on the rare occasion that we go out to eat, I fully enjoy and appreciate every part of the experience. Eating out is so much more meaningful now that’s it’s an occasional treat instead of a weekly occurrence. Staying in comes at a price too, though. We spend way more time in the kitchen now, trying to cook up healthyish meals every night, then going through the painful process of cleaning up the kitchen. After a day of work, the last thing you want to do is spend an hour or more cooking and cleaning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a first world problem, but these are the things that can get a tad wearing day after day.
What makes them especially challenging is tackling these sometimes mundane tasks, while still trying to do all the other fun things you want to do. I know for me there are periods where we are so busy just doing the day to day things that there isn’t the opportunity to relax, which leads to big time burnout. And right now, I am the Queen of Burnout City. I’m too stubborn to do something like go out to eat to try to give myself a break. Instead I start craving random money burning experiences – like getting my hair cut or getting a pedicure. I think it stems from a combination of knowing I shouldn’t spend money on things I can do for myself, but also just really wanting someone to just do something for me, instead of doing it all myself. I’m refusing to crack, and have instead been forcing myself to go to bed earlier and get some good sleep. It does help help a little, but if anyone figures out a magic way to cure yourself of burnout rather than just soldiering through, let me know. Remember that you’re not alone in the struggle!
I do have an example of a time where we did let a luxury crack us. A couple weeks ago we were driving up the north shore in Minnesota on our way to a family weekend. We were going to be driving past a brewery that we like up there, so we started the debate on whether or not we should stop. On the one hand, this brewery is about 3 hours away from home, so we don’t get to go there often. On the other hand though, we had a case of homebrewed beer in the trunk that we could easily crack into once we reached our destination. How could we justify spending money at this brewery when we already had beer with us? We ended up deciding to stop. Brewing beer and staying involved in the local brewery scene is important to us, and worth the expense. It also allows us to support a local small business. Unlike the time in the picture shown, this time we kept it to one small beer each, which helped keep the cost reasonable.
We’re still on the learning curve of our frugal journey. It’s times like these I have to focus on the end goal of all of this: early retirement. Even though we haven’t figured out what age we plan to retire at, I know I want it to be as soon as possible. Let’s be real, you don’t get to retirement faster by having your nails professionally done.