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Being frugal does not mean one should not enjoy life, just that we should examine our way of life to see if what we are doing is bringing us pleasure for the cost associated.
I recently had the problem of deciding to fill in the artificial nails that was given to me as a gift from my husband or taking them off and saving the money spent for upkeep. I do feel like I'm worth $15 every other week, but in the end I think it just comes down to the fact that I have other interests that I would rather put my money.
In deciding to explore just what I could do with $15 bi weekly I realized that just as artificial nails require upkeep, so do many other items in our lives. It just comes down to is the price to keep the item worth the sacrafice somewhere else.
In my instance, the item cost at the bare minimum $15 bi weekly or 26 times or $390 yearly. $15 biweekly does not sound like much but when one takes it a step further and then investigates what could that $15 really buy that would give equal joy to myself, then that is where the significance is really seen.
For me personally, I decided I would get just as much enjoyment for my $30 this month in the following way: I could buy school supplies for a child I do not know or I could buy a lot of pencils and take to the school for use when a child does not have one. The next month, I could find a nursing home in my area and take $30 worth of socks in all different sizes or I could save my money for a couple of months and take some nightgowns and PJs for the ones that do not have family.
My nails were pretty but I found after examining that I can get much more joy for my money. I'm gonna take the same money and buy some polish, calcium and vitamin D (as someone mentioned) and work on my own nails and use the leftover money in a more frugal and neighborly use.
I have found myself in reduced circumstances pretty chronically for the past 5 years - probably more. I am sure that I share this fate with many people, but, in spite of knowing this, my predicament has seemed like a very private and shameful hell. At least it did, until I became real about it. More people than not live less-than-prosperously, whether because the economy did them in, or because they chose a less fruitful, if more emotionally fulfilling, path to life. I can count myself in this camp, since I decided to pursue art and creativity as a focal point of my attention for many years.
I do not believe that wealth and material abundance are the sine qua non to a good existence, and I don't believe that anyone, deep in their hearts, does either. But everybody pretty much chooses to buy into the b.s., and makes their life goal the acquisition of more, or the upholding of a certain elevated standard of living. By buying into the B.S., we perpetuate a cultural situation where we ignore and underplay all the multifaceted things that bring value to life - a value immeasurable with cash, and not easily exchanged. By underplaying the inherent value of certain things, choices, and opportunities due to their bad conversion in the commodities framework, we castrate our sense of personal destiny, and harbour feelings of shame and inferiority if we fail to rake it in. This in America approaches a cultural disease - which, according to some, translates to physical sickness as well.
Back to my circumstance: I have pursued creativity and personal interest above material acquisition, above having a job. Though I freelance and aggressively pursue financial opportunities (such as writing these essays and things), I spent 80% of my time in pursuits which bring no direct cash conversion, and am reasonably happy. This, summed to my failures in the self-promotional department, have led me to inhabit a place of poverty for many years. By choosing to not buy into the cultural disease, I see my situation as a challenge, and as an inevitable consequence of the life I have lived for many years, and of my actual values.
I have felt values emerge as a direct response to tough circumstances: I am thrifty, non-materialistic, and refuse to take anything at face value. I am ingenious, through choosing to implement solutions through materials and resources I may already have. I don't feel entitled to anything, and am generous when I have something to be generous with. I have learned to really crystallize my own morals, and prioritize my goals, since limited resources force such discipline. And, discipline-wise, I have learned to do without - a lot. Do you know how empowering it is to be just fine when not being able to buy something that to most people - and to yourself at one point - seemed indispensable to existence itself?
Most of all, I have compassion and open-mindedness towards all people and treat all folks equally, and I condemn the shallow hateful attitudes I see - even right here in Madison County NC - that most folk who consider themselves 'open-minded' employ, when confronted with someone 'less than'. This might not mean much to anyone save Jesus Christ, but it means a lot to me.
For anyone who's read this far, I invite you to view your circumstances - no matter how bleak or mediocre they seem - as a gift, and a classroom for important life lessons. And please try to view all of life in all its marvelous entirety, as opposed to through the tired-old one-dimensional prism of 'profit margin' or 'cash value'. You may be surprised as to what you find.
My frugal life began when my peaceful existence received a sharp jolt. I'd been living in America with my husband where we had a stillborn child, our beloved daughter Kitty, and our marriage broke up.
I've been thinking a lot about the world and the terrible state we are in. One thing I've been thinking is that we would all be a lot better off if we didn't say "someone ought to do something" and said "I'm going to do something" instead.
I've always been pretty smart with money, but three very special little boys have taught me that simplifying all areas of our lives is one of life's sweetest lessons learned.
Manufacturers are so good at persuading us that we HAVE to have their products that it's difficult not to end up buying all sorts of things that we really don't need.
The recession has taught me the difference between wants and needs, and how grateful I am to have a warm home, loving family and friends. Some things money just can't buy!
My tip is to keep looking on ThriftyFun, as you never know who you will find. In January 2008, I posted about my washable nappies.
In my small community there are many traditions including having enough food for people that visited around a meal time. It was important to feed them, so this was done by taking out a few more things than was needed for our family.
I work just a block away from home. I had been walking to work, but pulled my Achilles Tendon and had to start driving to work.
My earliest adult encounter with frugal living was as a twenty-something single woman living on $425 a month in the 70's. I was exasperated with most of the budgeting articles in ladies magazines with titles like "How to Get the Most Out of Your Roast".
No one wants to struggle, to say no to themselves and their children, to feel as if they're going backwards rather than forwards. But the easiest way to get out of the slump of despair is to think of everything you do have - and most of us still have a lot.
Times are definitely tough for many of us and there is little or no cash for treats and little luxuries. At our house to make belt tightening a bit more fun, we have invented a game; "Good to the Last Drop".
So, alright, I work at Wal-mart and see all kinds of shoppers. Some are good and buy mostly generic. Others use coupons. Then there are people that buy 6 makeup items and spend almost $50!
Every day people throw out product packaging and then turn around and purchase boxes, bins, and caddies to organize their homes. Instead, reuse the things that you're about to throw away, things that will fill landfills otherwise, and use them to save money and organize your home.
How do I make my money stretch? I buy used as much as I can. Garage sales, thrift shops and www.craigslist.org are my go to places for everything. I purchase most non-food items from thrift shops.
During a stressful time in our lives, my DH and I did not have the money to pay our rent, so we had to search for a more frugal life for the two of us, our daughter and three children who were at the time living with us, plus our son and his two children who also stayed part-time with us.