Because the more realistic your plan is, the more likely it is to actually work. -Dave Ramsey
I have not been realistic for years and years and I have lost it a few times because of the imbalance in my frugal Tao…or lack of Tao in my frugality?
We have had to live hardcore frugal at times out of necessity. During those times of living on a shoestring budget, we found all sorts of ways to enjoy our lives for free. We learned how to nest and enjoy being home most of the time. When we went out it was on foot and to a free activity such as parks and libraries.
This picture is of the boys with one of their godmothers in Oregon. Traveling to see friends is another affordable activity we love.
Now we are not living penny by penny and we have a lot of stability. We are still on one income but that income has increased a bit, we have reached our humungous goal of buying a house, and we have savings. Can we relax somewhat?
According to Bali, my spouse, we can not. He says we need to save this much and pay this off and have that much in checking and on and on and on. When does the fun come in? When can we relax a bit?
This is a big question that I’ve had my whole life. I watched my mother struggle with money partly due to her mismanagement and I’ve gotten in and out of debt myself. I do have a Jekyll and Hyde nature with money. I can either get into a game with being penny wise or I spend it faster than you could blink.
Recently, I have been feeling a bit trapped. I want to go to the coast and see old friends and frolick on the beach. I would like to go out and have a latte at a coffee house now and then. I would like to go to lunch with a neighbor here and there. Nothing extreme, no shopping sprees. Maybe a pedicure since I’ve been barefoot since we moved in and my feet look it. Oh, yes, and a haircut. I have been experimenting with hair color and have sort of fried it. I need a short cut again.
I want to feel pampered and lovely sometimes, not just the fisherman’s shrew of a wife. I would like to look nice even while vacuuming and hanging my clothes on the outdoor line. I would also like to enjoy our life here on earth, thank you. There needs to be a flow of money, of abundance to create more of it. There also needs to be some smarts around handling the finances or before you know it there is no abundance and some debt.
But do you wait to pay off the balance on your Home Depot card and fill up the checking account, then have so much in savings before you have some pleasure in life? No. I did some research last night and Dave Ramsey is a financial guru I respect and go to for advice. The suggestion was to be very realistic with the budget or you won’t succeed. It’s true, if you get too tight you will get depressed and frustrated and then blow big money at the wrong time for the wrong thing.
The advice was to have a place for all your money and to have as many categories as you need such as grocery money, bills and rent money, emergency money and so on. Then you also set aside fun money and what he calls blow money. It’s just some extra money in your pocket for that coffee or magazine.
Frugal living is green and sustainable living. It is simply living under your means so you can pay your bills effortlessly and build savings for big things like a house or car or vacation. It is also having two very important funds set aside for big emergencies from losing a job to the washer going kaput.
It is NOT living like a miser and never leaving your house because it might cost something. It is NOT spending weekends cutting and collecting coupons into an album. For some people it is and this seems like a missed point. I watched a Netflix documentary called The Ultimate Guide to Penny Pinching. I would suggest watching this movie to see what NOT to do if you want any semblance of a normal life. One man hasn’t paid a penny for meat in all his life because he combs the roads for road kill and lives off that. He fed it to his friends to see how they liked it and when they did, he told them it was pheasant and squirrel and such, however, he left out the part of it being road kill. Another man and his wife spend all their extra time online hunting for bargains, they then go find the bargains with their cell phones in hand looking for deals and coupons while shopping for the previous bargain. Then there is a lady that shops with coupons for what ever is on sale. The dinners are odd, discounted foods and depressing. She has stock piles of things she doesn’t even use.
This is not being frugal. This is just not living, it’s now become an addiction, an odd habit gone rogue. You can save so much money with out getting creepy.
So, here is what I came up with. I’m married to an Indian man that likes to save and is really good at it. I can be thrifty, green, and live off very little if forced but I am not great at saving. For the last 6 years, we have had one issue or another and had to live sparsely. We still have to be smart, however, I now am making some royalty money and Bali wanted to save it all. Save for the attic fan, save for the expensive water filter system, save until we had so much in savings.
When do we live? I put my hoof down and I tried channeling a wealthy and successful person. What would someone great with their finances do? I feel that what I make is ours and what Bali makes is ours, however, I feel like my royalties are so paltry at this time we should just use it for fun money. After some dueling with him, I found that 50% was feeling pretty good. 50% goes to our common savings for household things and 50% is for fun and travel for me and the boys and the father if he ever wants to ride the fun train.
My income is an extra fund to do with as we like and that will be to play and save for extra needs on the house to improve the quality of our lives. Now, we still must be smart with our main source of income. I have encouraged Bali to work less and be with us more and that means less money. And that is where the frugal comes in. It means that I have a budget and I know where each penny goes and I reduce and cut things out as needed. If we have some flexibility for Netflix we keep it, I still have my donations, and we have a land line and a cell for when I travel. We even have cable right now because we are locked into a contract. All our bills are reduced to the smallest and we are careful with our water and lights.
It means that I have a budget and I know where each penny goes and I reduce and cut things out as needed. If we have some flexibility for Netflix we keep it, I still have my donations, and we have a land line and a cell for when I travel. We even have cable right now because we are locked into a contract. All our bills are reduced to the smallest and we are careful with our water and lights. I budget out the groceries but lately, I’ve wanted to shop in nicer stores. I choose Whole Foods so I have to shop in a way that is affordable. That means no junk, snacks, or convenience foods. We eat a lot of beans, rice, and tortillas. We eat produce in season.
For us to live frugally at this point, means that we just don’t eat out and our meals and coffee are mostly from home. A latte is a treat. I hang the clothes out and am really conservative with using the AC and lights. My bill is half what most people pay. When we go out we go to the forest and parks and we pack food and ice water. When we travel we stay with friends.
We order movies and books in stacks and loads. We make a lot of popcorn.
Our life is very rich. We spend whole days exploring forest and rivers. We eat food that is organic and Bali can make a boring pot of black beans into a curry delight. Buying produce in season has intense flavor as opposed to the pale and tasteless off season fruit from Mexico. I spend a lot of time with my sons, we read like crazy, and I work on my books and blogs because we spend so much time at home. We enjoy the little things like the tomatoes that are finally growing on the vines and good music on Pandora.
I do some real penny-pinching things such as water down the dish soap and add new grinds to my day old grinds when making coffee. It stretches things and seems silly but it’s the little stuff. I just learned how to download an app on my cell for Whole Foods discounts and I think I’ll be checking out some couponing. Thekrazycouponlady.com is actually a great site. This woman finds all the sales for you and I had a new appreciation of her when she only spent $16 at Whole Foods and had shopped quite a bit. I will do it for a couple stores but if I have to start using coupons and apps and rebates and…forget it. I have children to love on and books to dream up.