We are officially out of foreclosure now.
And I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.
I can’t speak for everyone else who has been in our shoes, but I can say for sure that the last four years were eye opening for me, and they seriously changed me.
I am certainly a different person as far as my spending habits.
My level of awareness regarding how wasteful I was and how much money I was shelling out unnecessarily is so much higher than it was four years ago.
I have become a much more frugal person.
There are definitely still areas where I can improve. I’m really trying to be aware of things I still do that are unnecessary.
But the person I was when I first got married and the person I am now are night and day.
And it’s possible that had I known back then what I know now, had I pulled my head out of my ass four (or more realistically, ten) years earlier, we may never have gotten into the mess we found ourselves in recently.
But hindsight is 20/20.
And I think sometimes you need a big old slap in the face.
We definitely got one of those.
But what I see so much more clearly now is that we as a society have become so wasteful and so impatient and so lazy.
And we have convinced ourselves that we need so many things. We have become accustomed to instant gratification in every area of our lives.
And whether we want to admit this or not, we are teaching this to our kids and we are turning them into serious wimps. And jerks.
We have remotes for everything and next day delivery and Google and drive throughs and digital cameras and…
You have to wait for nothing.
If you want to buy a song, you don’t have to go to a record store. You don’t have to sit next to the radio with a cassette recorder listening to Z100 until your favorite song comes on and press play and record simultaneously so you can listen to it whenever you want to.
You don’t have to learn the Dewey Decimal System (yeah, remember the Dewey Decimal System?!) so you can check out a book (in fact we were reading a book from the library last night that still has the envelope thing on the inside back cover where the card with the due date on it used to go and Number 7 said to me “WHAT IS THAT THING, MOM???”)
You don’t have to wait for TV shows to come out. You can binge watch them. You can watch them on your TV or your laptop or your iPad or your iPod or your phone.
You have instant access to everything everywhere. Always.
You get trophies and medals and ribbons for basically breathing.
Kids don’t walk anywhere anymore. Bikes and the bus are no longer acceptable modes of transportation.
We buy our daughters $500 dresses and get their hair and nails professionally done for 8th grade dances.
Kids (in elementary school, even!) have every gadget known to mankind yet they very rarely have to pay for them.
They can’t ride in a car for an extended period of time without constant stimulation because God forbid they are bored.
We don’t want our kids to be upset or unhappy.
At the first sign of hunger we give our kids snacks because we don’t want them to be uncomfortable.
When a teacher is hard on our kid (whether is deserved or not) we email, call and march right in to the building to complain.
But we don’t teach our kids how to deal with people who are dicks. There are lots of dicks out there, and at some point you won’t be able to handle the problem for your kid.
Unfortunately, neither will your kid because parents these days always jump in and save the day.
And I think a lot of these problems in society now boil down to the fact that when you feel the need to acquire/buy/use all these things that give you instant gratification, when you have to wait for absolutely nothing, you lose sight of what’s important.
You forget the difference between a want and a need.
And you become wimpy.
Bankruptcy and foreclosure and all the other crap we went through showed me how tough I am. Those experiences taught me to be even tougher. And smarter.
And they showed me that I got the wants and the needs confused.
And so I am grateful for what we went through.
I hear people every day say, “We don’t have the money for that!”
And maybe you don’t.
But I bet you do.
I think there is probably a pretty good chance that you are spending money on a whole lot of stuff right now that isn’t a need. And if you went without it for a while, you’d look back and say, “Wow. That was so dumb.”
And then you’d have the money for that thing that you said you didn’t have the money for!
So even though we are in a better financial situation now (and we are not rolling in bags of money, but we can at least cover our expenses now and save a tiny bit each month), that hasn’t been a green light to go back to spending money on stuff we don’t need. In fact, part of the reason we are in a better financial position now isn’t because we are bringing in more money but because we are spending much less.
That doesn’t mean we aren’t spending any money on wants. But by remaining frugal in most areas (while continuing to look for other areas where we can be even more sparing), we free up money for those things that are wants. Those things that really bring us pleasure.
There is a Facebook group I’m a member of called The Non Consumer Advocate. The founder/owner/writer of it has a website (the Non-Consumer Advocate) and every couple days or so she writes a post entitled 5 Frugal Things. And she shares, obviously, five frugal things she’s done.
And I want to do the same thing here. Because I want to encourage all of us to see where we can be more frugal.
Because when you are more frugal, you save money. When you save money you can either do more fun things or have more money saved.
When you can do more fun things or have more money stored away, you stress less about money.
When you stress less about money you are way less of a bitch, or a dick, or an asshole, and the world is a happier place.
Plus you are teaching your kids a thing or two about what they actually need vs what they want.
5 Frugal Things
- It’s chilly here in CT for the first time this fall today. The temperature inside my house was 60° this morning. Instead of turning on the heat (I haven’t turned it on yet!), I warmed myself up by hopping on the elliptical machine. When I was done, I made a fire in the fireplace. I think I’m gonna make it to November without turning on that heat
- I was going to go grocery shopping today. But we aren’t totally out of food. Not even close. So I didn’t go. And my goal is to make it to the weekend using what’s in the freezer, fridge and pantry.
- To help warm up the kitchen, I made butternut squash soup today. Cooking over the stove warmed me up. So did eating the soup. And I used up some of the food in the fridge.
- We still haven’t bought a dryer. Today I hung three loads of laundry outside. I compared our electric bill this October to our electric bill last October, and the bill this year is $71.31 less than it was last year at this time. If I can lower it by that much each month, that’s $840!
- Today I had to write a note to one of the kids’ teachers. I save the one-sided paper that come home from school, and I use those to write notes on. I also use them to write swim practices on. Just a piece of paper, but that stuff adds up! Reduce, reuse, recycle!
Those are just from today! How about you?
Is there an area of your life where you can be a little bit more frugal?
You’ll be surprised at how many of those “conveniences” make your life surprisingly inconvenient!