Today’s mantra: Frugality isn’t about deprivation or hardship, it’s about spending money only on what truly matters to you.
Today’s action: Examine areas in your life where frugality makes you feel deprived. Brainstorm ways to optimize or make substitutions for these things.
I really like the concept of value spending- it’s not depriving yourself of everything, but rather, spending money on the things that you value. Everyone values different things, so everyone’s spending does and should look different. I don’t value clothes or make-up or looking trendy, so I don’t spend much money on those things, but my artistic sister who uses her body as her canvas, always has her hair and makeup done and has a fashionable outfit on.
Even though you’re spending money on the things you value, you can still do it frugally. In the case of my sister, she uses drug-store makeup or buys the nice brands on sale, and most of her clothes are used. My husband values games, but he’s good about recycling his money. When a new game comes out that he wants, he’ll sell off other games or cards he’s not using to fund his new game. He also works at a game store, so he gets a store discount.
I think the biggest thing we struggle with saving money on, that makes us feel deprived is treating ourselves. I know we already had a whole day dedicated to overcoming the urge to treat ourselves, and another day on overcoming the “it’s only $_” excuse, but for us, that’s easier said than done.
My husband grew up in a lower income household, so while he’s not a big spender, he’s also not a great saver. Money goals are very short-term, and if there’s money to spare it means it can be spent on fun things. I grew up in an upper-middle-class family, where, while my parents spent their money wisely, there was always plenty to spare and it wasn’t a big deal to treat yourself.
My husband and I are somewhere in the middle. We have enough for our needs, and a little to spare, but we’ve both grown up being able to freely treat ourselves, and that money would be better spent saving for our long-term goal of financial independence. When you only have a couple hundred dollars to spare each month to put towards savings, those little treats really eat away at your savings.
I’m the finance nerd in our marriage, so I handle the money and I have a hard time saying “no” to my husband. He’s has a rough life and though we’ve created a happy life together, I have a hard time being a party-pooper when he wants to run by the convenience store for a candy bar and soda. He has a hard time staying focused on the long-term, and it’s not like he’s asking for anything expensive, but these little purchases add up.
I don’t know a perfect solution to this problem, but I do hope that someday our income won’t be so tight that we need to worry about $5 purchases. Obviously, these need to be kept in check, but I think part of the freedom of financial independence comes from not having to obsess over every dollar.
What frugal struggles do you have? Do you have any luxuries or treats that you have a hard time finding a frugal substitution for?