Originally Posted by Selesai
Besides, being "frugal" makes me feel like I'm taking control of my life away from marketing forces and capitalism, and that makes me happy. So this is what I focus on, that and trying to realize it isn't about deprivation, but control.
I TOTALLY feel this way. I've never liked feeling manipulated by ads and marketing, and now that I'm better educated, I refuse to be. So we live frugally by necessity, but even if we didn't have to, I think I'd choose to in many ways anyway.
The root of my problem is instant gratification. My parents were broke when I was little but by the time I was aware of money issues, they were more comfortable. In terms of material stuff, I always had whatever I wanted and more (I was an only child, and the only grandchild until I was in my 20s), so I never learned how to save up for anything. But in a weird contradiction, when it came to certain expensive things that I thought were important, my parents always said they couldn't afford it. For example, in high school I was offered a chance to do academically advanced things, like spend two weeks over the summer at the local university in a social sciences learning program, but they said no, they couldn't afford it, and that if I had saved my money, I could have gone. I had a p/t job from the time I was 14, but was allowed to spend the money on whatever I wanted. No one ever TAUGHT me how one goes about saving money. I actually don't think my parents knew how, because they were living just better than paycheck to paycheck themselves for so long.
Compounding the situation, they had no credit cards then so they didn't know how dangerous they could be, so no one taught me. I got my first CC in college and it was all downhill from there. I moved to NYC, which was my life's dream, but of course took on even more debt just surviving there. Then I met my DH and we proceeded to live the good life for several years until we had our baby. That was when we realized just how stupid we had been for so long. We had squandered most of my stock options (worth around $25K) on our wedding (but man, it was some party
people are still talking about it), and used the rest to buy our first condo. At our worst point, 4 years ago, we had $35K in CC debt and about $9K in a used car loan, plus our mortgage. Today we have only (ha!) $16K in debt, have a fully paid-for 2002 minivan and 2000 sedan, and managed to buy a modest house too.
I think that's pretty good for only 4 years' worth of financial responsibility, but we still feel strapped because my DH has been forced to work a sales job that barely pays a living wage and I cut back to 30 hours a week after DD2 was born (and I want to quit to SAH so badly). I know we have it so much better than many do, and most of our financial problems are of our own creation, but we live in a relatively affluent area as well, and our friends all have more money than us, so I feel the sting too. My DH is getting depressed because he can't find a better job, and I'm completely overextended, physically and emotionally, with telecommuting and taking care of the house and kids too. I really would not mind living the way we do, with no extras and always worried about money, if I could SAH, but it feels crummy to live this way AND be working too
Ooh, this got long
I think we all have so many factors involved in our "choice" to live frugally. I have already begun to pass on to my oldest DD lessons about making choices with our money, and about saving for the future. I think it helps that she sees very little, if any, commercial TV. Rabbithorns, I really need to work on cultivating your attitude about what's on your financial radar and being happy with what you have.