Some of us are frugal by choice, others of us are frugal out of necessity.
It’s no fun when money is tight and we find ourselves stretched to the limit! In fact, it can be down right debilitating if we allow it to be. I understand first hand what it’s like to live on one income. I know that housing costs are extremely high, and I also understand what it means to be underwater with your mortgage. I know that raising children costs a lot of money. I know the stress of working 2, and sometimes 3, jobs at a time just to make ends meet. I understand fully the burden debt. I know what unexpected health care costs can do to a budget. I hear you when you say that cooking real food for one or two people is expensive and time consuming. I hear when you say that cooking real food for a family is expensive and time consuming. I know all of these things because I’ve found myself in a lot of these situations.
It can be frustrating living frugally out of necessity. But let’s just be honest with one another…all the reasons for financial difficulty listed above, are just symptoms of a much larger problem. Please note…I am in no way suggesting that this is the case for everyone. I know a lot of people are struggling right now, and I am sensitive to that. However, I think that the majority of us are “struggling” because our standard of living is being rocked — not because our needs aren’t being met — and there’s a big difference.
So…are you ready to put the fire out on blaming life’s circumstance for your unhappiness? Are you ready to find the remedy to living a frugal life out of necessity? If the answer is “yes,” then let’s get real and take a good look at some of the potential reasons as to why we are dead broke with no way out.
1. We see frugal living as a burden. We have no extra money at the end of the month simply because we spend it trying to make ourselves feel like we got it. We think living frugally = boring, dull, and bland. But what we don’t understand is…freedom. The freedom that is found in enjoying what we already have.
2. The definition of our wants and needs is all messed up. If you all still love me tomorrow…stick around ’cause we’re really going to take a good look at this particular issue on Day 17 of our 23 Day Frugal Living Challenge.
3. We flat out buy too much. I find it so interesting that — especially here in the United States — the “Decluttering Market” (I just made that up) is taking off! It’s a good thing — if we can declutter without buying it all back. And what about all of the extras? Extra foods, cosmetics, clothing, shoes, body care products, candy, specialty drinks, interior decorations, etc. We simply spend too much.
4. We don’t take responsibility. Not taking responsibility by admitting that yes — the majority of the time (not always) — it’s our own fault. Only when we take responsibility for the way things are…and only then…will circustances have the opportunity to change.
5. We don’t have a budget. It can be painful to sit down with your spouse and discuss “money.” Because what happens is…that discussion ends up looking nothing like a discussion. It’s an all out fight. Money’s a touchy subject (I can’t believe I’m even writing about it…don’t hate me!). But again, let’s be honest with ourselves, we can’t expect to save money when we don’t know how much we have or where it’s even going! Budgeting can be a painful experience — which is probably why people hate doing it — because it forces us to look at the reality of our financial situation. Creating a budget, and sticking to it, is vital to our financial stability.
6. We don’t earn enough money. I know what it’s like to work 2 jobs. Once, when I was in college, I had 3 part-time jobs; but hey…I was in college. If after looking at your budget and you realize that the ends simply don’t meet, first cut everything — and I mean everything — that’s not a necessity. If the ends still aren’t coming together, it’s time to start building other revenue streams. Let your creativity flow! Get out there and start working your relationships with people. Pump up your resume. Be willing to do what it takes to get yourself out of the hole. Start living frugally by choice and you may never have to live it out of necessity again. Please note…I hesitate with this one because I’ve heard women say things to their husbands — or about their husbands — like, “He just doesn’t make enough to support this family or our habits.” When the truth is their husband’s make well over the national average. Remember, just because our standard of living is being rocked and we feel forced into this life of frugality — it’s not necessarily a bad thing. Learn to find joy in what you have.
7. We don’t have an emergency fund. Not having an emergency fund of at least $1,000 is a recipe for disaster. Lack of an emergency fund almost guarantees the addition of debt. Illness is another big money sucker. Most people don’t have enough money in an emergency fund account or, insurance to cover, the unexpected costs of a major illness in the family. What then? Start saving your emergency fund today! It doesn’t matter if all you can do is put $5-$10 away a month. $5 turns into $10 and $10 into $100 and before you know it, you’ll have $1,000 in your emergency fund.
8. There’s to much clutter. We’re spending our precious time and hard earned money on maintaining our stuff. Take an objective approach to it all and get rid of it.
9. We’re living trying to impress others. We’ve got to let go of think that it’s important to have the things our friends and neighbors have, and that’s true whether you need them or not. We’ve become stressed out, depressed, and flat broke trying to keep up with them. It’s time to let it go.
10. We shop for therapeutic or recreational purposes. Shopping should only be reserved for those one or two trips a month. You know, the one’s where you go with a list and stick to it. Shopping centers, boxed stores, and online merchants are out for your money — they don’t care about your well-being. Shop only for what you need. If it’s therapy or recreation you desire…there are plenty of free options out there. Research, google, and discover all of the free offerings in your local area.
11. We think that vintage wisdom is a thing of the past. Well guess what…there is a wisdom revival taking place! If you think vintage skills — like finding ways to get the most for your dollar, cooking from scratch, growing your own food, making your own cleaning products, mending clothes, repurposing and upcycling things, etc. — are boring and sad, then you probably are unhappy, broke, and frustrated.
Okay! This post is over…thank goodness! I hope you don’t hate me and I hope you know that my family and I are fighting our way through this right alongside of you and yours. I write this just as much for myself as I do for you.
Now It’s Your Turn
Daily Goal: Identify the reasons why you are living frugally out of necessity. What will you do to correct yourself and set a new course for your family? What are some other reasons that you feel like cause people to live paycheck-to-paycheck?
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