Daily Goal: Reflect upon your thoughts surrounding frugality. What are some misconceptions that you will need to overcome? How has materialism and useless spending held you in bondage?
- I'm proud to say that I got out college without a lot of extraneous debt. I had my student loans of course, but had "made do" with only a small credit car with a $1500 maximum. In my field of study you were expected to work during the summer and that always meant footing the bill for your travel expenses, almost always by plane. I almost always was able to payoff the expenses by the end of the summer by utilizing a companies free living arrangements. But, once out of college, I still had to travel... a lot. I was making 2-3 work related flights a year, on top of traveling to see my parents. I had a wedding that I ("we" the couple actually) now had the responsibility to pay for, and jobs that didn't really pay a lot... at all. In fact before this last year, after my "career" change I had never made over $25,000 in a year and I don't think I ever reached that amount - that was the life of a theatre worker. I was always living paycheck to paycheck and still had to keep up with everything. I feel lucky that we never got completely out of control with our spending - though there were times we could have used better judgement and there were times we had to pick affordability over safety for our living arrangement. But, after having to foot the bill for a cross country move in 2009, we took a moment to add up that extraneous stuff - our still, relatively, small credit card bill ($2000), our wedding and our car and we didn't like that number; in total it was over $11,000 not counting our student loans. That was a lot of money to us, particularly if you looked at how much (on our tiny salaries) we could have to spend each month if we didn't have those bills!
- I feel fortunate that we came to our senses quickly and came up with a plan that would see us, by the end of 2011 free off all that debt, making progress with our student loans, savers of a 10% house down-payment and owners of home and parents all before we turned 29. But it didn't come without it's challenges. Even now it's hard not want to run out and charge up a credit card (we still have it, nothings on but it's there for an emergency) to beautifully furnish our new home, or go on fun trips. But after almost three years of penny pinching (and a very generous offer to stay with relatives for a while) to pay off our debt we know that it's more enjoyable to have money available than to be using it to payoff something you bought or did months or even years ago.
- Like I said, I think we were lucky. Perusing personal finance blogs across the web has showed me that we made a good call in getting out of the credit and loan trap when we did and now so many of our spending habits are old hat that we find ourselves saying things like "We'll buy our next car with cash only" even if that's in 10 years. It's nice know that each piece of clothing we own, the food we eat and the things in our home our actually ours, completely and 100% ours.
- Is it hard - absolutely - I fight constantly with the ideas that the elusive "they" demand that I always have fashionable, new clothing ( I used to make costumes for a living - I like clothes!) or that there must be something wrong with us for not having the latest gadgets and gizmos; sometimes I just can't explain why we don't have cable and why I haven't seen that movie yet. It was really hard for me during the last year when I found myself explaining that we were two married adults with a child who were living with relatives - for awhile I felt like it was a stamp of failure. But then I look at what we do have and what we've achieved it gets easier, if just for a little while - we have a home of our own, we can choose good food over cheap food and we're working towards being able to care for ourselves, financially, as we get older and those are just the big things!
- Frugality, making do and simple living aren't just buzzwords to me - they're ways of actively living your life in order to make said life a little better. True sometimes it comes with a little sacrifice and sometimes it means doing things the hard way - but it can also be incredibly rewarding and in the day in age where rewards come so quickly, yet the effects are rather fleeting it's nice to do something that helps that warm, fuzzy feeling stick around a little bit longer.
My goals for this weekend are to see what I can make do with that already in the house. I'll be doing my weekly meal planning and hopefully won't need to run out to the store for more than a little fresh fruit or vegetables. Stop by on Monday for a post on how we use meal planning to keep us frugal.