Financial Independence and Frugality often go hand in hand with one another. All one has to do is search Google and tons of frugality blogs will pop up. A few of my favorites include Frugalwoods, Frugaling.org and FrugalRules.
Let me be clear: I’m not bashing being frugal. I think it’s a great thing to incorporate into your lifestyle. Just reading their blogs has made a positive impact on me.
As compared to these super savers (saving 70+% of their income, or living off of a strict $2k budget), I’m not very frugal at all. I eat lunch out more often than I should. I have someone cut my hair every once in awhile. I live in a way nicer, way fancier, way bigger apartment than I need. I bought a sewing machine that costs almost as much as my car is worth. [sidenote: the sewing machine has a touch screen and a laser and it’s totally awesome.] I have a new cell phone that costs me $100/mo.
However, these frugal friends are a very skewed representation of the general public. I don’t claim to be particularly frugal at all, and yet by the mere feature of me living below my means and saving a large percentage of my salary, I am actually frugal.
I don’t have 3 closets full of clothes. I don’t take weekend trips to a city across the country. I bring my lunch to work often. I have a 10 year old car that’s fully paid off.
The definition of frugal is pretty loose. I mean, I guess the definition of frugal is pretty set. But the act of being frugal is what can vary so much. As with many other things, it all depends on what two things or situations you’re comparing.
I think it’s kind of funny that I thought this was worth enough to write about when most people are worried about keeping up with the Joneses. Instead of the Joneses, I’m trying to keep up with my frugal blogger friends. Just another way that FI has influenced who I am as a person. I’m not about to start prowling the dumpsters in my apartment complex, but I can certainly bring my lunch to work more often. I’ve also realized the things I value aren’t things. They’re experiences. I’m just as happy playing frisbee in the park as I am going to see a movie at the theater. I realized this last month during my Buy Nothing month.
For me, being frugal is tough. I live below my means because I want to. Unlike many millennials, I graduated straight into a great paying job AND I didn’t have any debt. Not even student loans. That fact alone puts me well ahead of my peers, and I’m very grateful for that. Unfortunately, that means I’m doing this on 100% will power. Doing something because you want to do it and not because you have to is way harder. If I were only earning enough to pay my bills, you can be damn sure I’d be a lot better at saving money by bringing my lunch. But since I have enough spare cash to save, eat out and have fun money, the incentive to cut back just isn’t there.
If I’m being 100% honest, I’m kind of stuck in a bit of an apathetic rut. This is covered frequently on the Financial Independence subreddit (www.reddit.com/r/financialindependence), so I know I’m not alone. It’s difficult to keep on the same path when everything is on autopilot and all I have to do is keep on keepin on for the next 10 years. I’m hoping I can get a jolt of inspiration and a fresh outlook when I go to Ecuador next month to hang with some great people like Mr. Money Mustache and Paula from Afford Anything (among others!). I’m looking into getting a side gig- it’s just a quizmaster for trivia night once a week, no biggie- to help cover some of my incidental costs and to help me get out of the apartment to socialize. If I really wanted to hustle, I could start house and pet sitting for people in the area. I don’t know why I’m not, except for the fact that I feel like being slightly lazy. Actually, that’s a pretty big chunk of why I’m only doing my day job. I think I’m going to do some math and see if getting a second job of some kind is worth my time/ would lessen the time I have to wait for FI to roll around. That sounds like a good question to ask at the Chautauqua!
What about you? Do you think you’re particularly frugal?