Sometimes Frugal/Sometimes Not

Please share if you've enjoyed this post!

woman counting money at desk with her laptop

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Frugal living is a lifestyle I’ve lived for quite awhile now. It was a necessity after Rick died and I had to adjust to living without that second income. Over the years, the kids have grown up and become financially self-sufficient, I’ve switched jobs, and slowly but surely I don’t have to pinch those pennies quite as tightly. I assure people I’ve lived frugally for so long though that I’m quite sure I could hit the Powerball tonight and you’d still find me looking the the endcaps and scouring the sale ads before I do my weekly shopping. It’s second nature to me now.

I feel blessed that I’m no longer in a position where I am worried about paying the bills. That’s not to say I still don’t need to be careful about money. I’m currently in my “pay off debt” stage that was the result of years and years of not quite enough income to cover everything. It’s still easy to get a little lackadaisical about your spending if you’re not careful though.

Where’s My Money?

I was a little shocked when I was working on my May budget that I was going to be cutting things a little close money-wise. I was driving myself crazy trying to figure out why and finally realized it was a combination of 4 baby showers in a six-week period, 8 physical therapy co-pays at $20 a pop, and putting a down payment on my next cruise. The nice thing is that although it was a little stressful at first, after I realized what the expenses were, I could adjust my budget going forward to remedy it. There was a time that this would have been a much bigger crisis for me. More importantly, there was a time that I wouldn’t have even had the money in my account for all these extras at one time.

Currently I’m trying to balance my desire to pay off lingering debt and still be able to do some things I had to put off over the years when things were either much tighter with money or the kids activities came first. Traveling a bit more is a priority right now, just because I realize I’m probably in that short period of life where this is an ideal time to do so while the grown kids are self-sufficient, I still have reasonably good health, and my parents are still in reasonably good health.

Living frugally is definitely something I’m known for but that doesn’t mean I don’t have some habits that are NOT frugal at all. It’s all about balance people. As my friend Ramit Sethi says, Spend extravagantly on the things you love and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.

Frugal Habits

  • Using the library instead of buying books. I don’t have the space for storing books and I rarely re-read a book. My library has started putting on the check-out receipts how much you’ve saved using the library instead of buying the books. Since 2021 I’ve supposedly “saved” over $3,300.
  • Going home for lunch instead of eating out. Even eating a “cheap” lunch, I’m probably saving $8-12 a day here.
  • Buying discounted gift cards to pay for purchases
  • Skip the alcohol when eating out. Even leaving the soft drink off most of the time cuts $2-4 off the price
  • I don’t replace my cell phone until I absolutely have to. I don’t need the new bells and whistles
  • Not a fashionista at all. I appreciate some name brands but I’m happy getting them at TJ Maxx or Marshalls or a consignment store instead of paying full price. I don’t need crazy expensive purses or shoes (can’t wear cute shoes anyway because of my terrible feet, lol)
  • Perfectly happy tagging along with friends camping or going to Holiday World instead of Disney World

Not So Frugal Habits

  • Starbucks…yes, I know, I can make my Chai lattes at home and sometimes I do. It’s the experience and truthfully, they are better when Starbucks makes them for me.
  • I eat out a little too often. To be fair though, I’ve cut way back on this and the majority of the time when I eat out now, it’s with friends so I count that as entertainment
  • Credit card debt. I cringe at how much I’m paying in interest every month on credit card debt. But to be fair, I’m not adding it to now, this is just from years of being a single mom and dealing with the medical costs of a chronic illness and a money pit of a car. 
  • Lottery tickets. Yes, I know the odds of winning are dismal. It’s also budgeted in with my entertainment money for the month. I figure I don’t waste money on cigarettes or alcohol, what’s the harm in a few bucks on a dream.

Living Frugal

The key thing to remember is you don’t have to give up everything fun to live a frugal life. I wrote a blog post a few years ago about easy substitutions you can make if you want to reduce some of your expenses, you can read that here. Remember also that it’s easy to make frugal swaps temporarily. I know I have some graduation gifts coming up and some payments on my cruise so I’ll tighten up on a few things for now to offset those extra expenses. You might be surprise that if you make some temporary frugal cuts, that you find out that it’s an easy swap that you don’t mind living without.

What are you frugal about in your life? What’s something you’re not frugal with? And remember, no judgement here. You might think I’m an idiot for spending money on chai lattes every week, but you’re fine to dish out thousands of dollars on Mickey Mouse or Prada shoes every year. That’s why it’s called Personal finance, we all have different things that are important to us.

Please share if you've enjoyed this post!

This entry was posted in Money and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.