Helping to get started on a frugal lifestyle or similar - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-19-2009, 08:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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! :

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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Old 02-19-2009, 08:46 PM
 
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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.:
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Old 02-19-2009, 09:38 PM
 
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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.

New signature, same old me: Ann- mama of 2 boys and 2 girls, partnered to a fabulous man.
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:40 AM
 
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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

ribbonpurple.gif  "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more than the risk it took to blossom." Anais Nin
   
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Old 02-20-2009, 11:01 AM
 
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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.
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Old 02-20-2009, 11:36 AM
 
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Old 02-20-2009, 11:44 AM
 
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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!
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Old 02-20-2009, 12:00 PM
 
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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.
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Old 02-20-2009, 12:52 PM
 
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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.
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Old 02-20-2009, 01:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:26 PM
 
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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.

Mara, mama to two boys born 05/2009 and 04/2011, after four miscarriages. 

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Old 02-20-2009, 03:36 PM
 
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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.

Me Wife to T (14 years)Mama to Princess(4) and Monster Boy(my 1 year old ):
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Old 02-20-2009, 03:44 PM
 
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Great thread, Amy ~~ Thanks for starting this!

 

 

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Old 02-20-2009, 04:13 PM
 
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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.

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Old 02-20-2009, 04:33 PM
 
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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
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Old 02-20-2009, 04:41 PM
 
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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.

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Old 02-20-2009, 05:08 PM
 
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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.
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Old 02-20-2009, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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Old 02-20-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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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!
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Old 02-20-2009, 05:52 PM
 
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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!!

~Jenni, rural frugal Alaskan, eternally married to Dragon
loving my wild things DS Wolf (12), 3 angels, DS Bear (6) & DS Eagle (3)
 

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Old 02-20-2009, 06:05 PM
 
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Great thread!

For me, I grew up with parents who provided an excellent example of living below their means. All the other families in town seemed to drive new cars, buy their kids brand new name-brand clothes, etc. In my family, we always drove old clunkers, and wore clothes from the thrift store that sometimes the other kids made fun of. But now my parents are completely debt-free, including no mortgage. My dad has been laid off twice in the past 10 years, once for over a year, and both times they managed to get by okay on what they had socked away in the bank.

My parents, by example, made me see the benefits of being frugal (well, that and my dad always said to avoid CC debt like the plague ). I started saving money when I started working PT jobs at age 15, and having that cushion in the bank has helped me get through a divorce, cross-country moves, etc.

DH comes from a family with almost zero financial common sense, but somehow he still emerged unscathed. DH worked 2 jobs and saved his money like mad to buy his first house at age 23. He didn't even have a credit card until after we met. In contrast, I heard yesterday that his parents made $80 K (which goes pretty far in our region) last year and weren't sure where any of it went.

I'm rambling... anyway, my motivation for living below our means now is to avoid having to work FT anymore, and get to be home with my DD on most days. We got into debt while I was in school recently, but we have almost dug out of that hole.

It really helps our budget that we live 20-30 minutes from anything... impulse shopping or spur-of-the-moment takeout dinners are not exactly 'convenient' when living out in the sticks. We garden (not well but working on it ), can food, use wood heat, hang out clothing, cut coupons, no cable, eat out maybe once a month... some of it is a hassle for sure, but to me, having to be stressed from working FT, as I did until recently, is a much bigger hassle.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:14 PM
 
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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.
Yes, switching to cash has been HUGE for me. I've always used grocery lists in the past, but I always ended up spending twice as much as I planned to on impulse items, when paying with plastic. I've used cash at the grocery store for about 6 months now, and these days I make my list and actually stick to it, which is a totally new concept for me.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:24 PM
 
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One reason was my ex was in debt, and living with that over our heads killed me. Our marriage, too. I was NEVER in debt, and I went crazy trying to get it all paid off (we lived on $200/month after all the debts were paid each month, because I insisted on throwing a ton of extra at them each month). Never again. It was horrible. I honestly don't know how people do it. It would drive me insane.

Another is DH is in the military. This gives us two reasons to be frugal. One, we move every 2-3 years, on average. So, we can't really buy a house now, but, we save every month with that goal in mind. Hopefully, when DH retires in 10-16 years (depending on what rank he's at), we'll be able to put a 50% down payment down. Which plays into the other part of the deal, which is, ideally, after DH retires, we won't be locked into a regular 40hour, 50week/yr workweek. We'd like the option to work part-time and volunteer. Or maybe one of us working full-time at a sucky-paying job we love. Or working a year, and then taking six months off to travel or pursue hobbies or whatever. I don't think we'll want to stop working completely, but, we want to hopefully have options. Even now, I do - DH works, and, for example, I didn't work for 3 months after DD was born, then I worked a temporary job (taking DD with me) for a year. Then I took another year off. I'm working 25hours/week this school year (DD is with me), but will have the summer off. Next fall, it will probably be about 20 hours/week. It's nice to have flexibility. If we have a small mortgage, that will definitely help. We also max out the IRAs each year with this goal in mind. Also, the whole moving thing? I hate packing. I hate unpacking. I especially hate packing and unpacking things we don't love or use. So, I got rid of a TON of stuff over the past two years, and I do NOT intend to replace it.

We're not misers - I do buy toys for DD, and she does have quite an assortment, but, she regularly plays with about 90% of it (the 10% she doesn't are toys that I'm waiting to see if she'll come back around to - you know how kids go in stages). We do splurge on treats - but, part of the great thing about being frugal 90% of the time is that it means we *do* have the funds to order a case of freeze-dried organic strawberries, or to buy my husband some Jeep accessories or whatever - items that aren't "necessary", but that are truly appreciated.

Finally, I can't enjoy myself if we spend a lot of money on something. Or, more correctly, if we spend more than I think we "should". Which brings me to the number one key in frugality - PLANNING. Next week, we're taking a 5 day vacation, and, we'll probably spend about $400 for the whole thing. The most expensive part is the hotel (which I found a deal for, and allows our dog to stay for free, and gives a continental breakfast). We're driving, and will fill up using our grocery store "gas rewards", so, gas will cost 19c/gallon for the first tank, which will get us to our destination. I used our bank card "points" to get (4) $25 restaurant gift cards to chains in the city, so, even if we eat out every night, we shouldn't spend more than $25/night of our own money (really, probably no more than $10-15/night except for one place). I'm baking snacks to take with us this weekend, we'll shop at a military commissary for beverages and lunch type foods (I know the location of every commissary in the country, I think ). We're using our reciprocal museum memberships to get free admission to two museums where we're going, and I planned for the trip to be over a Friday so DH can get a free "behind the scenes" tour at a museum he's extremely interested in. I can enjoy a vacation like that.

Finally, my parents were NOT frugal. They almost lost their home a few years back, and, really, it should never have happened. I still can't imagine that...Plus, my gram *IS* frugal (of necessity - she was a single mom in the 50s/60s), and a lot of that stuff is actually *fun*. So, that connects as well.
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Old 02-21-2009, 02:22 AM
 
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Old 02-21-2009, 02:56 AM
 
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Dp and I met when I was in college.. I had taken out some student loans.. then when we started living together we got his son.. and he was still paying child support so we were WAY beyond our means (I had no income and much of his income went to his ex..).. long story short, we maxed out a couple of credit cards.. it took us YEARS to pay off what he owed (from before me) plus what we owed together.. but we payed off/caught up with all that old stuff "baggage" really.. we went to a non-profit finance place and they set us up a payment plan, helped us with a budget, etc.. then we were able to buy a house..

at this point I have a few credit cards with VERY little on them.. mainly they are zeroed out each month.. if I get behind a little, I pay them off lump sum semiannually when we get dividend money, or tax returns, birthday money, whatever..

I still owe some student loans (but they are tax deductable, so I am in no hurry to pay them off).. I owe on one car.. but I am SO much more comfortable right now not having a lot of debt hanging over my head! Plus I am proud of myself.. I look around at my nice house and think about all the work (financially and with my own sweat) that went into getting to this point! It wasn't easy, but I stuck with it.
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Old 02-21-2009, 05:31 PM
 
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I'm so happy to see this positive thread!

I'm drawn to a frugal lifestyle because it was the exact opposite of how I was raised. My parents both had good jobs and earned a lot, but they were terrible with their money. They were always under the pressure of a lot of debt, but would spend thousands of dollars on extravagant vacations and new cars. My mother is also a compulsive shopper (and now a bit of a hoarder) and as a teenager I would have to tell her not to buy me any more clothes, shoes, jewelry, chanel makeup, etc.

Now that I have my own family I want to make wise choices so that we do not have to feel the strain of debt. I am so glad that I have found this forum, because DH and I often feel so estranged from our families in this area and from our consumerist society in general.

I know first-hand how difficult it is to get away from the desire for more-more-more. For example, when DH and I lived in the SF Bay Area, we rented a small duplex and would always walk around our neighborhood and admire the very modest homes there and say "If only we could afford a house like that! That would be perfect and all we would ever need!". We now live in a lower-cost area of the country and own a beautiful modest home on a wooded lot with over an acre of land. When my MIL came to visit, she made several remarks about how small and "quaint" our house was, and when we drove by some McMansions she commented on how if we bought one of those we could "live in it forever and raise our family there". For weeks after her visit I actually wanted to sell our house to buy a bigger one, which is ridiculous! Our house has three bedrooms, two baths and a fully finished apartment over the garage! We do not need any more space.

Seeing the posts on this forum helps me to keep the right attitude and maintain our frugal lifestyle. Based on tips from this forum, we've started baking our own bread from scratch (from bulk-purchased flour stored in 5 gallon buckets), making our own pizza dough, granola, etc.. I'm trying to do better at meal-planning so that there is less waste, and I'm composting for the garden I hope to be able to plant this spring.

Kelly, wife to my wonderful DH , and mom to DS1 born 1/20/2008 and DS2 born 7/14/2010 by VBAC.
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Old 02-21-2009, 05:59 PM
 
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subbing to come back later and read

wash.gif  Me  + bikenew.gif Dh =  broc1.gif  Dd1(9 yrs) + hearts.gif  Dd2(6 yrs) and blowkiss.gif Ds(3.5 yrs)
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Old 02-21-2009, 06:35 PM
 
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I came to frugality in a roundabout way. My parents aren't frugal - they are cheap. I cannot begin to list the ways, but it was an abysmal way to grow up. I decided as a young child that when I grew up, I was going to have anything I wanted - and for a while I did.

Several years ago, I finally totaled up the credit card balances and was sickened by how much we owed - and how little I could even remember buying. It was an ugly wake-up call, and I was on the frugal wagon - for a while.

In January 2008, I had the epiphany again, but this time I cut up and cancelled the credit cards. I won't ever buy anything again if I can't pay for it, so I need to be frugal if I ever want another car, home repairs, etc. I have always stockpiled, but I am now doing better with coupons and can help others with their stockpiles, too. I read this forum for inspiration and ideas on how to improve my frugal ways, and hopefully the tidbits I add help someone else.
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Old 02-22-2009, 08:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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.

Now that I have my own family I want to make wise choices so that we do not have to feel the strain of debt. I am so glad that I have found this forum, because DH and I often feel so estranged from our families in this area and from our consumerist society in general.
We also feel not connected sometimes to friends and family because of this. But we sleep much better at night than most of the people who we feel the distance from so its well worth it. But I see your point.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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