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Helping to get started on a frugal lifestyle or similar

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
I am sick of negative threads with gloom and doom so I am trying to find something uplifting and fun to post.

Post how you started a more frugal outlook on life. It could have been just a choice for a more simple lifestyle, $$ need, raised this way, anything. But show how its made your life better or not, if you could begin again what would you have done sooner, anything like this!

this is to share, support, and help others begin this journey. This is not a debate or to say this is not frugal or this is more frugal or to flame others for not doing what we do. I am hoping we can all share something and then also learn something from others' posts. So Give and Take away begin! :
post #2 of 29
I wanted to quit working and stay home with my kids. So dh and I started saving like crazy and paying off as many bills as we could. We down sized our car payment, stopped eating out and we never shop for fun. That was 6 years ago and I feel like I'm still working on improving my frugal lifestyle but so far I have not had to go back to work.:
post #3 of 29
For me, it's all about priorities. I'm sure that a lot of people here wouldn't call me frugal. I buy new clothes sometimes, and I really like to go out to eat. We bought a more expensive house in a different area, just because we wanted to (not because we needed to). But I also choose to do without things that I don't need and economize in areas where it doesn't affect me.

I started by figuring out where my money was going, and then asking myself if the benefits I was receiving from that money was worth the cost. The cost/benefit analysis is going to vary for everyone, but I think it's a good place to start, especially for people who aren't living paycheck to paycheck and don't HAVE to be frugal. I realize that I'm incredibly lucky that our expenses are more than covered by our income. The challenge for me is to make reasonable decisions about our money.
post #4 of 29
For me, I wanted to pay off debt so that I could work towards a better future, possibly being a SAHM when we have kids.

So I looked at all of our bills and decided how to streamline. Cancelling a cell phone, lowering the grocery bill, going without cable, etc.

Plus we have a detailed budget we follow and I check things off as I go, which makes me feel somewhat more accomplished
post #5 of 29
I grew up being frugal by necessity, then had a few wild years in college with credit cards and student loans.

When we got married, we looked at our combined credit cards and student loans and got a little scared. So, we started down the path of frugality, with a few bumps along the way.

Most recently, I wanted to stay home with my babies. This year has been an even steeper learning curve, because dh's salary was cut (and comissions dropped to nothing). So, we had a huge pay decrease in a year, but I still wanted to stay home. So, I'm doing everything I can to make that happen.

In the last year, we've also set some long term goals to begin working toward, so that gives us motivation to stay frugal in the day to day, too.
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by annethcz View Post
For me, it's all about priorities. I started by figuring out where my money was going, and then asking myself if the benefits I was receiving from that money was worth the cost. The cost/benefit analysis is going to vary for everyone, but I think it's a good place to start.
:

I took a bunch of economics classes in college, and when I read and understood the concept of opportunity cost as a freshman, the way I looked at money changed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AngieB View Post
I wanted to quit working and stay home with my kids. So dh and I started saving like crazy and paying off as many bills as we could.
Me, too. That was a goal for many years.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bunnyflakes View Post
For me, I wanted to pay off debt so that I could work towards a better future, possibly being a SAHM when we have kids.

So I looked at all of our bills and decided how to streamline. Plus we have a detailed budget we follow
:

Me, too.

We had a detailed budget for years and years that we followed with discipline. My motivation was the following: financial independence, a nice retirement, a nest egg, and the opportunity to be a SAHM if I chose.

I accomplished the first 3 things pretty well. The last one I accomplished somewhat, but not in a long term way. It has more to do with DH than anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BetsyS View Post
I grew up being frugal by necessity.
Me, too.

I grew up poor...really, really poor as in not enough food to eat and going without heat a lot of times during the winter. I never got anything new as a child...ever.

It framed my feelings towards consumer goods, and it made me pretty frugal because I know when hard times hit, they are indeed hard. I'm not very frivolous and I'm not oriented towards material things at all.

The other big part of this personal development path, for me, was my growing understanding of the planet.

I now see frugality and simple living (intentional simple living) as part of the solution to reducing my carbon footprint and living more lightly on the planet.
post #7 of 29
Well, frugality was a necessity while hubby and I were in college with first one and then two kids.

We both grew up with no concept of spending wisely and saving...hubby's mother is a shopaholic, and my parents just never really budgeted or showed me how to save.

So, once we went to college and we had a few thousand dollars a SEMESTER to live off of, I started budgeting. Granted we used a lot of government help as far as childcare, foodstamps, and subsidized housing, we still learned an invaluable lesson on how to live with nothing.

We still live today just like we lived all through college and it is still necessity as we have one in daycare, student loans, a house now, and we still try to save as much as possible.

I'm here on this thread all the time, because no one knows it all and we can all learn new ideas from each other!
post #8 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by holidaymama View Post
We both grew up with no concept of spending wisely and saving...hubby's mother is a shopaholic, and my parents just never really budgeted or showed me how to save.
:

My parents are terrible with money. First, they never have money, but the small amount they do have, they do not budget wisely. Never have, never will.

I learned nothing from my parents in terms of finances. Nothing.

I have always been better with money and financial decisions than my parents, even when I was a kid, actually.

I've had to bail out and financially assist my parents many times.

DH's parents are pretty good with money, especially his mom. His parents were hard workers all their lives and it shows. I think DH grew up seeing a work ethic where you went to work everyday and paid your bills, and he learned from that.

Then again, I grew up with the complete opposite of that, but I still go to work and pay my bills so I think that larger society delivers that message more than parents do.

DH is a little less frugal than I am, and DH is also more indulgent about money and material things, but definitely not as much as popular consumer culture.
post #9 of 29
I moved to an area that had no fast food and most products needing to be shipped in. With no McD's, I couldn't just grab something off the dollar menu - meals have to be planned. And since processed foods all have to be shipped, it jacks up the prices. In turn, we started eating simpler. When we had a craving for something we missed, we learned to make it at home - General's Chicken, fried rice...and it tastes better, so slowly we started not craving the MSG high priced, low quality stuff we got at restaurants.

Since everything else has to be shipped, it cut down our impulse spending. There's no going to the store and getting a whole bunch of extras, just because they were on sale. No Target and their One Spot, no malls...each purchase is planned and budgeted for.

And then, then we started realizing how great that was. We felt more in control of our money, more able to boss it around. There was enough left in the account each month that we could start paying off bills early, where before we were struggling to keep our head above water.

Our weather is so great here, too, that I just planted a garden to help with getting fresh food. I can get local favorites cheap - beans, cabbage, potatoes, kale...but other things like jalepenos, baking potatoes, and bell peppers either come to us half rotten or costing too much. This will help us eat better year round.

I grew up in a poor household - my parents were frugal and not. We had a large garden, but they maxxed out credit cards each year. I didn't know how to achieve the balance until we started looking for options and were put in a position where frugality is the norm.
post #10 of 29
Thread Starter 
For us, it was a simple lifestyle. We are both creatives and love being resourceful. For us, its sometimes a game to see how we can do things with what we have, less expenses or less waste.

I am seeing how well this choice works and worked for us now. It sometimes means making decisions that others will critisize us for or not like because it may cramp thier decisions but we stand by our lifestyle.

One thing we learned early on was saying No. We say No to various occasions, parties, and activities because we are already doing something else that day. Every other holiday there is an issue with a family
member(s) because we do not want to spend the day going from here to there and everywhere. I have noticed several families we know who spend all of their weekend driving here and there and everywhere for anything and everything because they have to be at all the activities.
We will not let this consume our family time or down time nor our bank acct.

We say No to exchanging gifts because we do not need a pile of stuff in our house and we cannot see why we should contribute to someone else's pile of stuff in their house they do not need. I have noticed this is what the gift giving usually ends up to be.

Another thing both DH and I have done is eat less. We have never been over weight people but when we started this, we both shed together about 40 lbs over several months. We both enjoy a local microbrew beer, but we can stop at one. I enjoy a nice glass of wine, but I dont need half a bottle. I can bake home made choco chip cookies and eat two. We can eat them over a longer time and enjoy. When we order a pizza once in a blue moon, we order a medium and still have some for tomorrow.
post #11 of 29
Getting frugal is a major goal for me for 2009! You can add me to the list of ladies who are planning to SAHM soon. We were already doing pretty well with the BIG stuff-- mortgage, gas, electricity and etc are reasonable/ under control. Our spending issues come from the smaller, debit-card stuff: $30 here, $50 there that add up so fast. So that's what I've been working on. The parts I've done really well with so far are mostly dietary, because our food budget was out. of. control. Now to people that have been living frugally already, these things are going to sound obvious and banal, but for me they're making a huge difference.

Almost every day so far this year, I've cooked dinner at home, with only three exceptions: two of those were long-planned, and the other, someone was treating us. I've been paying attention to food costs: figuring the cost per meal, watching how many servings we get from the various dishes I make, focusing on big, casserole- or soup/stew- type dishes that "stretch", rather than steak/ burgers/ pork chops meals that don't. A lot of extra meals have been added to the freezer!

I've totally changed the way I go grocery shopping. I used to go several times a week, and just get enough for a few meals. Now I plan my dinners out a week at a time and go to the store once a week, with a SHOPPING LIST. Amazing concept, right? Going just once saves me a ton of time, frustration (since I go after work, the traffic is awful), and gas money. Speaking of gas money, I have a goal of one-tank-per-month, so far so good partly due to this. In the past few weeks, I've been trying coupons and shopping store specials, really looking at prices and bargains, stocking up during sales.

I've also been bringing my lunch to work, 90-95% of the time so far this year. Since my only other option is the overpriced student cafeteria here, it's saving me a lot of money. I bring dinner leftovers, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, and fresh fruit. I make sure to bring enough for a morning snack and an afternoon snack (give me a break, I'm preggers!) so that the temptation to get a candy bar or other expensive, unhealthy snack in the afternoon isn't as bad. I haven't been perfect with that, but a whole lot better than before.

This happened mostly on accident, but here's something else that is really helping me watch my money: I switched from using a debit card/ credit card to plain, green cash. What happened was, I lost my debit card the day before Christmas, and had a difficult time getting it replaced because I work for the bank. () So just to get by, I started withdrawing cash for groceries and etc, and found that it's so much easier for me to manage my $$! All of the monthly bills are done online, I get paid weekly, so I withdraw a percentage of my paycheck in cash every Friday, and use that for everything that isn't a bill-- groceries, coffee, whatever. See, before, I would use my debit card, but I was bad at "keeping track", so if I thought I was at risk for going negative, I'd whip the credit card out instead. Since I was pretty paranoid, that cc got used for a lot of stupid $5.00 Starbucks and etc. NOW, I know exactly what I have to spend, because it's either in my wallet or I don't have it-- perfect for someone who can't keep track to save her life! Haven't used the credit card at all.
post #12 of 29
We did not used to be very frugal at all. We made money and were broke. I was a very successful hairstylist and I just spent much of my money on myself. Then we had DD, and things had to change. First I had to quit working for awhile, I was in complete denial that I could go back to working when she was 6 weeks old. I went back and hated it, then I started getting major clogged ducts and having a horrid time with trying to feed her. I could produce a ton of milk, but with pumping(so I could work) I would produce more ending with my getting all clogged again. It was a vicious cycle and hurting my health. My Dh and I realized I needed to walk away from my work, and focus on our family.

At first it was hard we were really broke, and struggling much of the time. We had too many bills and one income, but I started becoming smarter and researching about ways to save money. Getting rid of debt and focusing on the things that a family needs vs. wants. We also sold our part of our rafting business and that got us some extra funds. We have one credit card carrying a balance, we are focusing any extra money on that. I buy food in bulk, I have a freezer, I follow sales, and use coupons on the things we use that have them.

Dh does all of our home projects-he's an electrician, he knows how to build anything. So what if our bathroom has been in a perpetual state of remodel for a year, when it is done it will have added major value to our home and will be beautiful, it's almost done.

For us it's we don't want to struggle, all I ever hear about from my best friend is how they are always broke, yet she and her DH make terrible financial decisions all the time. I just don't talk finances with her-it's a utter waste of my time. They have 2 car loans, student loans, massive CC debt, and make the same as us no wonder they are constantly broke. We have a mortgage, one CC(that is being paid off), drive old cruddy cars and are saving to buy a newer car for hopefully cash. I just hate payments, having a mortgage is one thing, but car payments suck to me.

Honestly where we live the economy is not that bad. If thing do go crazy-we live in the country, I can and will grow a garden, my neighbors have chickens, my other neighbor raises beef. I like to be positive about things.
post #13 of 29
Great thread, Amy ~~ Thanks for starting this!
post #14 of 29
It all started for me when I discovered the Frugality & Finances forum. I started reading and realized that many people were living a much more frugal life than I was. I have slowly started to change my ways and adopted habits such as mixing coupons with sales, making more food from scratch, looking for low cost or free ways to entertain my children. Now these things along with meal planing and not wasting food are becoming a way of life. This morning DS was up early and he wanted some bread so we baked a loaf. I never would have done that a year ago. The greatest thing is my DH is finally getting on board. : This is really changing our life, for the better.
post #15 of 29
I just want to say thank you for starting a positive post. I love this forum, but not so much of the gloom and doom...
This forum has been very helpful to me over these past few years and has assisted me in creating a more frugal lifestyle...one that is more in-line with our philosophies and beliefs. We have been gradually getting there, but this year we've been much more frugal. One of the last challenges for us was eating out too much. I found out about the Traditional Foods Menu Mailer here on MDC and that has helped me so much. The meal planning alone has cut our grocery budget by about $200/month. I'm using coupons too, which is pretty simple once you have a little system going. We never go out to eat anymore which is a HUGE savings and dh and I have both lost several pounds. I have noticed that we don't even miss eating out and much prefer to stay home.
We are just not buying things anymore unless we need them...and then we're being even more mindful...is there somewhere we can find one used, etc...
And starting a budget...being super-accountable to ourselves about where all of our money is going has been so incredibly beneficial.
I just think it's great that everyone seems...en masse, to be moving in this direction in various ways and to different degrees. I think it's about time
post #16 of 29
We are a single income family who has teetered on the brink of too much cc debt off and on. We pay it off, then build up more debt a few months later. Meanwhile I really want to start saving, and I see all the *junk* we donate to Goodwill that we paid for that we didn't really need.

We just paid off the cc and moved to a cash system for food and necessities. I really don't feel like I'm hurting for lack of spending money. Instead of spending I have been knitting more, gardening more, improving my cooking skills by finding creative ways to cook frugally, etc. I feel really good about it! I hope to get into nursing school soon and we will probably be able to pay cash for it, if I don't get the scholarship I'm after. We are not rich but we just try to be happy with what we have.
post #17 of 29
Just my priorities require being frugal. I only have so much money a month, but I have to spend it well.

One of the things that was important to me was living in a nice, safe apartment in a crime/drama free community. That means I pay a premium to live where I do, about $100 more a month than I could be paying elsewhere (we live in a low COL area). So, we don't have digital cable TV or cell phone contracts.

We don't want to be stuck eating only ramen and wanted to go on vacation at least twice a year, so we limited our family size and don't have car payments. I got a travel rewards credit card which I pay off the balance on as soon as charges post online and use the rewards to help pay for our trips.

I am fairly happy with how things are. We have a decent FFEF, can go on trips, all of our bills are paid with no problems. We have no credit card debt. My apartment is goregous and I love it, with a nice view of the lake outside my patio. Learn to love what you can afford, living within your means is its own reward.
post #18 of 29
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by WeasleyMum View Post
Almost every day so far this year, I've cooked dinner at home, with only three exceptions: two of those were long-planned, and the other, someone was treating us. I've been paying attention to food costs: figuring the cost per meal, watching how many servings we get from the various dishes I make, focusing on big, casserole- or soup/stew- type dishes that "stretch", rather than steak/ burgers/ pork chops meals that don't. A lot of extra meals have been added to the freezer!

&

I've totally changed the way I go grocery shopping. I used to go several times a week, and just get enough for a few meals. Now I plan my dinners out a week at a time and go to the store once a week, with a SHOPPING LIST. Amazing concept, right? Going just once saves me a ton of time, frustration (since I go after work, the traffic is awful), and gas money. Speaking of gas money, I have a goal of one-tank-per-month, so far so good partly due to this.
I LOL when I read this part of your pp. We started doing the exact same thing several years ago, but again it was like a DUH moment. Now I cannot thing of any other way to do just this.
post #19 of 29
Great thread! When my kids were littler, we were a two income family, and I had a job with a long commute. I had flexible hours, and I didn’t work summers, so in many ways it was an ideal job. But despite that, I *really* wanted to be home, so we did some re-figuring and cut a lot of things out, and I quit my job. During that period, I read a lot of books, like Amy D’s book and some others. We have had to be a lot more frugal to get by as a single-income family. Now that my kids are older, I do a little part time work around the kids’ school schedules. We have a much calmer lifestyle than we used to have, and I think it has been great for our family.

To make it work, we drive older, paid off cars, and live a more simple lifestyle. We don’t eat out much or take elaborate vacations they way we used to. I cook a lot of food from scratch, and use the library, and try to focus on all that we have (which is a lot).

I like this forum, because I am one of the more frugal people I know in and around my children’s school. Almost everyone drives nice new cars and takes great vacations. I have never once seen anyone in the discount grocery scores or thrift stores I go to sometimes. Most people shop at the expensive grocery store in our community, maybe because it’s convenient or because they have a lot more money, or something. So it’s nice to have contact with people who make some of the same decisions I do. And I don’t consider myself as frugal as many of you, so I can always learn new things!
post #20 of 29
I was raised in a frugal family (one income, 8 kids, dad was a school teacher)...my DH, not so much... DH chose to be a school teacher because of the time he gets to spend with the family, but it is not a budget he's used to living on. Me, on the other hand, I'm very comfortable with the smaller budget. so I do the books in our house
So it's something I was raised with, but I've become more frugal/green in several things than what my mom was, and I'm less in others...
My parents never went out on dates, but DH and I feel that that is a really important thing for *us* (we spend a lot of time beign parents, we need some time to be spouses), so we have made that a high priority in the budget.
On the other hand, I've gone into cloth pads and a diva cup, which my mom never did.
We both cloth diaper, breastfeed, grow a garden, compost, cook from scratch, make our own bread, and mend clothing.
We buy used cars which is cheaper for insurance as well as the purchase price.
We don't have cable or long distance phone (phone card was cheaper), and we use the library a lot. We calculated the cost and joined netflix instead of going to the video store.
We've debated giving up the internet, or switching to cheap dial-up, but I have an online etsy shop and need fast internet to maintain it. However the shop brings in enough to pay for the high-speed, so we feel like that's a fair trade.
We bought a house that we could afford and got a fixed mortgage.
We have credit cards, but try to pay them off every month (use them like a debit card rather than accruing debt). DH and I are not doing so well with this right now--having accumulated debt in college and when he lost his job--but we're working really hard right now to make real progress--always pay more than the minimum payment and so on.

One thing I have noticed over and over is that going green and going frugal overlap a LOT. Since I believe in being green, certain aspects of frugality (cloth diapers/pads for example) have just come naturally.
I think that even if we didn't *have* to be frugal, I still would be in most respects. Because if we spend less $$ on basics, then we'll have more $$ available for fun things like vacations!!
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