What does it mean to be frugal and how to truly succeed.

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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.

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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.

 

 

11 comments

  1. I’m like you in how I can have fun in being frugal at times, and at others I can justify spending at the speed of light. Most of the time I prefer the frugality, and I make a game of it, just like you. I also want a few ‘luxuries’, like a mani/pedi, a visit to the chiropractor, a trip to the Farmers Market in Dallas or Ft Worth, a MASSAGE (it’s bad when you are a massage therapist, but you can’t find anyone to work on you). The thing that you and I have figured out in our careers as homemakers and ‘thriftologists’ is how to brainstorm ways to have the ‘extras’ without running the budget into the red.

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    • I haven’t been doing so great lately with this Grannie. She’s a spender and rubbing off on me. I had to force us to both sit and do a budget and I’m getting hard core again…I can tell she isn’t lovin’ it.

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    • We are fine and surrounded by rivers but the fires are all around us and the air is thick, thick, and thick with smoke. Makes me think of places in China were the pollution is like that daily and how people ever put up with it. We are lucky because it will eventually clear up. So many fires and floods, makes you wonder if Mother Nature is trying to clear off some of this cement.

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  2. I hope your husband will join the fun train with you! I know exactly what you mean about wanting to enjoy a few little things here and there. When I first quit my job to stay home, I stopped getting pedicures, started doing my own. I did ok for a bit, but then, I just ‘needed’ someone else to do my feet. I do treat myself every few weeks to a pedicure, but I sometimes will remove the paint, trim, and repaint between visits, trying to stretch it out a bit. As for my hair, I’ve decided to stop coloring, as that is a very expensive thing to keep up for me. I’ve cut it short and I’m almost there!! And surprisingly, I don’t have as much gray hair as I had thought I might. LOL Now I kick myself for all those years I colored and didn’t need to! Another great post! thanks!

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    • I just spent a lot of money on another bad cut and then I went in and tried a different cut and that turned out bad. This is around $120 altogether with tip. I’m done. I died my head rags black and I created a look around them. I am cursed in the hair department and I will use it to save money. I’m also going without the coloring as I did a number on my hair with that as well. A lot of savings going on. )

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  3. It is a very fine line, but I do agree that once in a while you have to let the hair down and live a little! The good part is that when it comes time to get serious again, it’s not as difficult as it would be for someone who has never done it.

    As for the coupons–I found that most of the things they issue coupons for are very unhealthy for you. I made it a rule to only clip coupons for items I actually used or did want to try. Eventually I just quit because I found better ways to use my time. I’ve never forgotten a comment that someone made one time in defense of shopping at the grocery store closest to home instead of the one clear across town, even though it was cheaper. “My time is worth something too!”

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    • Yes, yes, and yes. Sometimes driving across town cancels out the savings with the cost of gas and time. I tried couponing and it was all junky stuff I didn’t use so that was the end of that. I do have an app for Whole Foods, I have yet to try that out. I’ve been letting my hair down a lot lately even though I keep saying that “it’s time to buckle down”. But you are right, it’s easier for us to get frugal since we don’t go out much at all or consume often.

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  4. Wow $120 for a couple bad haircuts, yikes that is tough on the budget! But that is $60 each including tip, and that is what I paid for my last bad haircut many years ago. I left very upset and promised myself I would never set foot in that salon again. I dreaded the salon so much that I went nearly a year before my hair was cut again. And crazy as it may sound, It was a guy who I had just started dating, now my husband who gave me that haircut. It was after dinner at his house (he cooked for me, a great meal) that I brought up that my hair was getting ratty at the ends, and while I hated going to the salon, I needed a haircut. He mentioned he knew how to cut a woman’s hair, had done so for a number of friends for years and he had the tools to do it. He explained the process he would use to section, trim, ensure it is even, etc. and I asked him if that means he could give me a haircut so I don’t have to go to the salon, as I needed one. He said sure, but not that night as it was getting late, but he promised he would. So Saturday morning I arrived at his house with freshly washed hair and told him I was there for my appointment, he laughed and got out his tools. I was seated on a stool, a towel around my shoulders, and he combed out, sectioned, then trimmed my hair. I told him it needed a good chop, at least four inches. He said lets start with just an inch or so. Net result was that he gave me a great haircut and it was FREE! I told him this was not a one time good deal, he was now my stylist. He has continued to cut my hair for me, always a great job and it may sound silly, but when I looked in the mirror to check the results of that first haircut, I was thinking this is so great, I am going to marry this guy. He is a great cook and he just gave me the best haircut I ever had, he is a keeper. So it saves me hundreds a year having him do my hair, never a bad haircut. When I see coworkers that have gotten bad haircuts at the salon that have paid way too much, I am very appreciative of what I have 😊

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    • What a great story and you are SO lucky! My husband offers but I’m afraid that his only skill is with those buzz cuts and the electric cutter. For my boys he does a great job but I’m not ready to look that hard core.

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      • There are some great tutorials on youtube, I watched a few before I attempted to cut the hair of my two boys. I bought a set of Wahl clippers, hubby (then fiancée) already had good shears and I bought a child size hair cape and neck strips. Boys sit still better without itchy hair down their neck and back. I felt comfortable and set them on a chair with a board across it on the patio. I tried, got flustered and hubby finished the scissor over comb portion for the longer hair on top and blending with the shorter sides on both. Next time my older son said no, you do a sucky job Mom, he wanted my guy to do his haircut and younger followed suit. Told him I was sorry, didn’t mean to dump that chore on you, but he said ok, and has done them monthly ever since. Boys are both very happy with his work and won’t trust their mother😭. One day they were fighting over who was going first, and hubby said he would do the first and mommy does the second, they both cried NO! My mother laughed, she said she wouldn’t trust me either with shears. But she does trust hubby as she got a really bad haircut at the salon, said hubby could do better and after hubby finished the boys, he asked if she wanted to be next as she mentioned she wanted a trim, and he now cuts her hair as well. She likes getting her haircut as she wanted, not chopped and also she loves that the haircut is FREE.
        I always get a glass of wine set out for me before hubby capes me, combs out my hair and sections it, before he trims my hair. My mom asked where was her wine, so I got her a glass. Getting spoiled.
        Hubby colors my hair for me with henna when my roots are showing so my hair doesn’t get fried with the toxic chemicals in the box color, and I do my mother’s hair with henna as hubby said I was perfectly capable of doing it, he is my colorist only. He showed me, but I get dirty while he supervised the first couple times.
        Hubby has given haircuts to a couple of my friends as they like how mine looks. He offered to teach my best friend’s husband how to cut her hair, but she said no way, he couldn’t even get putting it in a ponytail right.
        I would suggest if you want your hair to recover, avoid the salon and box color, it destroys your hair. Being you were doubled cursed with your hair not only cut badly, but short the only thing I can suggest is patience until it grows out. I wouldn’t let you husband use the clippers on your head, that is too extreme, I have seen women who sport the buzz and they look like guys. But if he is willing have him trim your hair, get a good pair of shears and when it gets longer, just have him give you a minimal trim of 1/4” or less. My one friend got a bad haircut and bad dye job and her hair was breaking off, hubby has been doing minimal trims to just keep it shaped while it grows out. He did the henna color for her the first time to even out the uneven tones, but he said if she wanted color again, that would be my job. I am actually getting pretty good doing henna color, but no one trusts me with the shears.

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