As a little girl I used to save up a lot of money. Most of my pocket money went into my piggy bank, to save up for bigger items I would want to buy. Soon I found out that doing this, made me a target. Family members came to borrow money, as I always had some. Most of the time my piggy bank was left emptier, and even though I got paid back most of the time, I started to see my saving as a bad habit.
That is when I started the downward spiral. I became addicted to stuff. My piggy bank was empty, and my room filled with toys. 7 years ago, I was married by that time, I reached the pinnacle of spendthriftiness. Due to medication I became depressed, and my answer to the depression was Ebay. I started to like those maneki neko (beckoning cat) statues... I bought 20. I started to knit again... I bought boxes and boxes of yarns.
Until, one moment last year, I started to realize that surrounding myself with stuff, didn't make me a happier person. Cleaning the house became a chore that I detested. I was spending lots of time putting our stuff in various hiding places, and then had no energy left to spend on the actual cleaning.
That was when I began decluttering.
The decluttering was my first step on the way to frugality. I started to collect things from the house, asking two very simple questions with every item in my hands: "Does this item bring me joy?" or "Do I still use this item?" I collected the items, for which both answers were no, and sent them to the thrift shop or sold them on Ebay. I still do both these steps, and every time something leaves the house, I feel more fresh air chasing the staleness away.
My second step was buying the tightwad gazette, and started to read about saving money. I found some ideas very radical, especially for my spendthrifty nature, but I took some great ideas from it.
My third step to frugality was reviving my love for the earth. Would I really want to clutter the earth any more with my waste? Did I show my love for the earth by buying things, that would cost the earth centuries to break down? And wouldn't we live much more in balance, if we were eating vegetables grown in our own backyard? All these questions, and more, moved through my head, and I knew the answers to all of them. It was clear, very clear.
We started our frugal life by doing monthly trips to cheaper supermarkets, filling our pantry with cheap and healthy foods. Then once a week we stocked our fridge with perishables, like milk and veggies. We have become more conscious shoppers now, and have also stopped eating and drinking unhealthy food. All in all, we succeeded in cutting our grocery bill in half, without spending lots of time comparing price lists.
Then we started to shop at thrift shops. When we need something replaced, we first go look there.
More steps followed, and I realized that every step we take towards thriftiness, I feel happier. I feel more alive now, than I did two years ago. I have renewed my bond with the earth we live on through frugality. I know that sounds like two aspects that have nothing to do with each other, but for me, both are linked.
The biggest surprise in this new life of being thrifty is, that my dreams are floating to the surface now. Not spending time spending money, is time spent on following my dreams. I have a focus in life, that I didn't have for most of my life, even though I always knew what my dreams were.
To me, this is the biggest, and most unexpected, gift of frugality, and it made me realize that frugality isn't about pinching pennies, or saving money. It is about saving yourself, creating the space where you can go and live your dreams.
Sylver from the Netherlands
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By Amir (Guest Post)05/31/2008
Great post, and I'm write there with you sister. I've found that same link in my life and it makes every day a little better. I've gone from reckless earning and reckless spending to finding joy in collecting other peoples trash and turning it into planter boxes, and other eco-friendly usable stuff.
By bev (Guest Post)04/30/2006
Wow that is soo profound....what enlightenment...!!Thank you so much for sharing that.
By gator10tx (Guest Post)04/19/2006
What a wonderful testament! Your story has been truly inspiring and I need to be more like you in soooo many ways. You are an inspiration :o)
Whenever you have more ideas, please post them so we can all learn from you.
Bless you :o)
By niftyjessy (Guest Post)09/20/2007
i agree....enlightenment. and to some it may sound dumb or corny but its soo not. It's simple things like this that bring true joy. Finding purpose, being productive, and most of learning to love what you have instead of always wanting more that you don't really need.
Yes! I agree with gator! I can relate in many ways and your story is very inspirational. It gives me hope...thank you!!!
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