Is being frugal worth it? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 01:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I've kind of really lost my enjoyment in being frugal. I used to get so excited about paying off bills and making extra money, finding a great deal at consignment or finding a neat way to reuse something. Now it's just kind of blah. I'm having trouble seeing the point in it all.

Even in this economy everyone I know is still taking vacations and eating out all the time and buying luxurious things for themselves.  I know I shouldn't envy that but I do because it really seems that they are all A LOT happier than I am. They don't spend their days worrying themselves sick about losing their income or getting sick or paying this bill or that bill. More importantly, they don't have to constantly turn down offers to take the kids to fun places or events just because of money. It's getting harder every day to convince myself that sitting at home playing board games or playing ball at the park is more fun than going to DisneyWorld.

I thought I wanted to give my family an appreciation of the little things and knowing the value of a dollar but I feel like all I've done is strand us on the island of miserable and deprived.

Long story short, I was a chronic spender as a young adult and "reformed" five or so years ago. I sold off so much of my stuff, got extra work, cut out tons of extras, etc. I read Ramsey and others and paid off all my consumer debt about a year ago. Problem is I kind of lost my momentum after that. I mean I did all this work and don't owe anyone anything but I also don't have anything and the prospect of working two jobs while dh also works full time for who knows how many more years to be "financially secure" just isn't as appealing as it used to be. 

I'm open to any advice and suggestions. Thanks for reading.

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#2 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 01:58 PM
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It sounds like you had a goal, and you achieved it and are now at a loss as to why you are doing what you are doing.  Maybe you need to set new goals for yourself to feel motivated?  Besides teaching your kids good values around money, why is being frugal important to you?  Do you hope to help your kids with post-secondary school one day?  Do you want to be able to retire and not worry about money?  Do you want to be able to help care for your parents when they are elderly?  And, more importantly how do those goals tie into your values? Do you value family?  Do you value security?  Tie your goals to your values and you'll feel more motivated.


And being frugal doesn't mean you can't do anything fun that involves spending money, it (to me, anyway) just means that you should do it mindfully and within your budget.  So if taking your kids to Disney World is important to you, I don't see why it couldn't be one of your goals.

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#3 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by nstewart View Post

It sounds like you had a goal, and you achieved it and are now at a loss as to why you are doing what you are doing.  Maybe you need to set new goals for yourself to feel motivated? 


This is exactly what I was thinking...


I find myself with that same feeling of "What now!?" after I reach a goal.    


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#4 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 02:35 PM
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I agree with PP's that setting some new goals would be helpful for you.


And I also think you're stuck in seeing only 2 options:


Option 1: Forget about being frugal or saving for the future, go into debt, spend whatever it takes to live in luxury, and be happy.




Option 2: Be frugal, stay out of debt, save for the future, be responsible, and feel deprived and miserable.


Are those really your only options?

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#5 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 03:49 PM
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Maybe now that you have gotten there you should find a way to splurge.  Something that will be fun or interesting.  And with your frugal abilities I bet you could have a better less stressful vacation than most.  While a lot of people look happy while they're buying all their crap, you don't see them behind closed doors trying to figure out ways to pay their credit card payments.

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#6 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 06:43 PM
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If you feel that way it's time to start loosening up a bit. Not alot, just a little.

Add a holiday section to your budget.

Add a "fun" section to your budget so as you can go out and join in and also have something to look forward to.

I understand the "living within your means and have no consumer debt" philosophy, as I subscribe to most of it as well, but I draw the line at sacrificing living now to fund a hypothetical retirement.

I have seen too many of my parents friends that don't make it to that age, or when they do they are too sick to spend all their money on enjoying themselves. (extreme examples, I know)

But the point I am making is that life is here and now, have experiences, live it.

Being frugal does not mean that you do nothing and be miserable. 

It means that YOU choose what is important to you and your family and your life.

YOU choose how to live you life. Embrace it.  Become excited. Plan your vacation over two (or however many) years.

Choose which things to exclude or be strict on in order to have your important items/experiences be included in your life.

Good luck OP.


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#7 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 10:37 PM
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 I think it is worth it.  It means that you control your spending & have more freedom to choose how you will have fun & meet your goals.


Like one of the PP suggested, maybe make going to Disney World one of your savings goals.  Set up other, less expensive  fun things as more intermediate goals, or budget in some "regular" luxuries. 

For example:

     3 Friday nights a month is order-in-a-pizza night.

     1 Saturday night a month is go-out-to-dinner-night (or "date night")


Maybe work only 1 job instead or 2, and meet your "financially secure" goal later?


I hope you find a good way to be able to spend, but still stay out of debt and save some.




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#8 of 19 Old 12-06-2011, 11:23 PM
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I agree that you should set up a "fun and entertainment" part in your budget.  If you don't want to spend much make it small, like $50 to $100 a month.  Look for coupons and deals and do some fun things regularly.  $100 is enough for a movie or two, eating out at some fast food place or go to some place that charge admission like museum or aquarium.  We eat out once a week and it doesn't cost too much if you don't choose fancy places.  It's hard to change the frugal mentality after many years and feel OK to spend money on luxuries.  That's why it's helpful to have a budget for it.

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#9 of 19 Old 12-13-2011, 04:02 PM
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Thanks for bringing up the question.  Goals like all things need to be reexamined.  Right now I am where you were 5 or 6 years ago.  I want to pay off consumer debt so I can be a stay at home mom when I finally have little ones with my DH.  Staying focused on that is the hardest thing.  I am glad to see others that have been successful to inspire me to do it!

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#10 of 19 Old 12-16-2011, 01:20 PM
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I always seem to want to respond to many threads with Education! Education! Education!  If you have to be super frugal and feel deprived to live within your means then perhaps you or your husband should go back to school in a field that has higher paying jobs.


My husband had a well paying job and we were comfortable (not extravagent), and then he was laid off.  I was a SAHM when he was working, but when he lost his job I went back to work.  I earned about 1/2 of what he had been earning.  It took him 2 years to find a job, and during that time we were super frugal and I was excited to do it and was really motivated.  I read "The Complete Tightwad Gazette" from cover to cover.  I went with cloth everything.  We didn't buy anything that we did not absolutely have to have.  We knew the situation was temporary, though.  When he finally found a job, our income more than doubled.  I actually found that I enjoy working so did not quit.  We are now "comfortable" again and don't have to be super frugal, although I continue many of my frugal habits such as cloth everything.  Now that we have funds, instead of using the horribly stained, fraying baby wash rags for napkins, I bought some nice matching napkins on Etsy.  I think my education and my husband's has made a world of difference and has allowed us to live comfortably with some savings.  We have a mortgage, and car note and a student loan but no credit card debt.


As many others have said, set some goals.  Consider making one of those goals getting more education/training.  I know it is not so easy for people to go back to school, but do some research and see what is available in your area.  I hope this helps.


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#11 of 19 Old 12-17-2011, 06:33 PM
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Originally Posted by creddy View Post



This is exactly what I was thinking...


I find myself with that same feeling of "What now!?" after I reach a goal.    


I agree.  I tend to set a lot of financial goals to keep myself from getting to this point.  It has helped, even if they are small goals and/or only short-term goals.

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#12 of 19 Old 12-26-2011, 04:43 PM
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It sounds like you reached your station and now its time to sit down, and evualate where the next train is going to or walk out of the station and catch the bus to somewhere else. Or maybe step out, look around and see what suits you.


Being frugal doensnt mean you cannot have fine luxury items or go to Disney. I know many many people who Disney (as they say) but do it at so many different levels its amazing. They all seem to have the same pics on FB showing the same things but some do it on a dime, some do it on milage and some do it with disney points since they are club members.


I like nice and expensive makeup. Because it stays on all day and the skin care makes me look much better than my 40 years I have now. But I buy it with gift w purchases, over time, or during the holiday season, you can buy several gift packs and get a huge bang for the buck.


So there is no reason you cannot have nice things, but within reason. There is nothing wrong with buying an expensive purse that you love and have the money for. Enjoy it etc. Just dont buy it, plus 19 others and stick it in your closet. Get it?

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#13 of 19 Old 12-26-2011, 05:46 PM
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I think it's healthy to have a modest weekly treat, whatever that is for you, and then additional small splurges for holidays and other celebrations.  I know that Ramsey teaches a nothing-but-rice-and-beans-til-you-get-there approach, but a constant state of deprivation is just too wearying.

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#14 of 19 Old 12-26-2011, 09:59 PM
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To me it worth it in some ways but not others. I do not want to work 3 jobs all the time.  2 is plenty.


At same time, something I am OK with being frugal and others are not. Life without some pleasure does not worth it.

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#15 of 19 Old 12-26-2011, 10:11 PM
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Whoops, wrong thread! :)

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#16 of 19 Old 12-27-2011, 03:33 AM
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 I would find a middle ground. Do the savings to prep for the what ifs,but also spend a little for your enjoyment, Many people live for the moment,and for them it means things on credit cards that will never get paid. I could never enjoy anything if I knew I was going to blow off the bill.


Find a way to make things work for you.You don't want to be so miserable that you hate the frugal life.Lol, if I had to wash cloths by hand or bake ALL my bread I would not be happy.

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#17 of 19 Old 12-27-2011, 06:37 PM
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I also think it's important to remember that we don't see the whole picture when we look at people who spend freely and seem happy. I have some friends who have been out of work for over a year and are living on credit cards, defaulting on student loans, etc. They are pretty miserable at home at night, but if you see them out at bars and shows, which they still go to, they look like they're having a blast. I wouldn't trade that "playing on with the band on the Titanic" feeling for the security of actually living within my means and having fun from time to time. 

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#18 of 19 Old 12-28-2011, 06:53 AM
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Here's my two cents... take it for what it's worth, it might not apply to you, but I think you need a vacation. Go to Disney World, if you want, and it's doable. (There are a lot of threads that talk about how you can take frugal Disney vacations - there's whole forums dedicated to it. PM me if you want.) Don't go into huge debt to do so but splurge a little. Make some great memories. Then go back to being frugal. I think one or two bigger splurges go further FOR ME than constant splurges. You might be different. I feel better if we save for a few months then go out to a really nice dinner. My husband feels better if he spends that chunk of money on buying himself fast food a couple times, spread throughout the month. I say go on a nice vacation and let loose for a bit, but you might feel better if you treat yourself to a movie at a theater once a month, or a Redbox movie a couple of times a week. I agree it's not just "be frugal" or "splurge all the time". Figure out where your priorities lie - and I think tying your frugality to a bigger purpose like family values or retirement or whatever matters to you is worth it.

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#19 of 19 Old 12-28-2011, 08:41 AM
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I agree with do the Disney if you want. There are so many many ways to enjoy your vacation there but within reason of what you can budget. DH and I have not gone there and wont until the kids are older and actually want to go. We have the means and have had many chances to do it, but my kids always choose something else to do either in Calfornia or Orlando when we are there at least twice a year visiting family.


But, again, I know several families who do Disney annually or more. A friend waits until Southwest emails crazy fairs or her DH has a few free flights. Then combines that with Disney sales vacation such as free lodging, discounted meal plan, whatever. A friend of my daughters parents leave Chicago at 5pm and drive all night to Orlando (he likes to drive). They check in, go to the park and he sleeps all morning and joins them whereever later.


Another rents a condo off property (as they say) and buys groceries etc. They do the park in the morning and then swim etc. Go back after dark.


My neighbor enjoys all the gourmet places to eat and they plan their visit around their meals.  

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