How Our Simple Lifestyle Facilitates Frugality

posted by Andrea | 03/26/2019

 

I’ve always been a very frugal person.  

Over the years I have faithfully clipped coupons, made meal plans based on sale items, purchased clearance groceries, shopped thrift stores and Craigslist for everything else, cooked from scratch, and sent in rebates for various items — all in an effort to save more on the things we need and want to buy. 

It isn’t always the fastest or most convenient option, but I don’t mind doing it, and the amount of money we save makes my time and effort worth it. 

However, SAVING money on the items we buy is really only half the battle in living a frugal debt-free life… 

The fact that neither Dave nor I SPEND all that much on anything extra is another extremely important factor to consider. 

I know when I say “we don’t spend much” some of you don’t believe me, or simply can’t comprehend what exactly I mean when I say “we don’t spend much”. 

I get questions about this all the time — especially related to budgeting for various categories — so I thought it was finally time to do a full blog post about it, and show you as clearly as I can, what exactly I mean when I say “we don’t spend much”.

When I say “we don’t spend much”, I really mean it! 

We charge everything except the kids’ school tuition and our quarterly water bill to our credit card each month, and if you saw our bill at the end of the month, you would see the following: 

  • a few grocery trips
  • 2 or 3 gas fill-ups
  • our 3 utility bills (gas, electric, internet)
  • our Netflix subscription
  • various donations
  • 1 or 2 fast-food purchases
  • 1 or 2 random “extras” (home/auto insurance is billed every 6 to 12 months, life insurance is yearly, etc.)
  • maybe a few home or yard supply purchases depending on if it’s during one of our home renovations

That’s it… and no, it’s not an exaggeration!! 

I wish I could show you our credit card statements (obviously I won’t!) because you could go down the list every single month and see for yourself how very few ‘extras’ we buy.

We don’t travel to visit family because our family members all lives close to us. 

We don’t go on vacation because it’s not something we’re interested in right now.

We don’t go out to eat as a family.

We don’t go out to eat with friends as we’d rather invite them over to our house.

We rarely get fast food (usually Culver, Arby’s or Little Caesar’s once a month).

We don’t go OUT on dates. 

We don’t hire babysitters (our parents watch our kids on occasion; otherwise we take them with us or one of us stays home with them.)

We don’t use daycare. 

We don’t gamble or play the lotto.

We don’t do much gift-giving (our kids few Christmas gifts were from thrift stores).

We aren’t members of a gym, country club, or any other club that costs money.

We don’t go to movies, concerts, sporting events, or any other ticketed events.

We don’t need fancy clothing for fancy jobs or evening activities. 

We don’t go through the car wash or pay to have our cars detailed. 

We don’t buy new (or even close to new) vehicles — which means less expensive insurance too. 

We don’t buy books, cds, or movies as we get them from the library.

We don’t have “toys” (boats, RV’s, campers, 4-wheelers, golf carts, etc.)

We don’t have hobbies that cost money. 

Dave doesn’t go on golf outings or ski weekends. 

Dave never goes out for lunch (he doesn’t have time).

Dave doesn’t buy coffee as he makes it at home every morning.

I don’t go out to coffee or lunch with friends. 

I don’t get my nails done.

I don’t get facials or massages.

I don’t do anything special for my hair outside of regular hair cuts from my neighbor.

We don’t pay for any other hair cuts as I cut Dave and the kid’s hair.

Our kids aren’t part of any sports teams.

Our kids don’t do any extra curricular activities outside of one dance class for Nora.  

We don’t meet up with friends at pricey play areas, but rather are part of free play groups at church and at the library.

We don’t do many local family activities unless they are free.

We rarely buy anything “new” but instead check our local thrift store or just make-due without.

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Yes, there are occasional exceptions… but please believe me when I say they are OCCASIONAL EXCEPTIONS. They do NOT happen often. 

In fact, if you want me to be really honest (at the risk of sounding even more boring), I can tell you with 100% certainty that no one else has put our children to bed outside of the few nights they have slept over at Grandparents’ houses. 

We’ve also NEVER hired a babysitter to watch our children when we were gone (I had a “mother’s helper” come a few years ago, but I was always home). 

Our personalities are such that we just don’t feel the need to DO a lot or GO many places. 

We are more than satisfied to stay home. In fact, we regularly turn down opportunities to participate in outside activities because we’d both rather be home. We do NOT feel deprived, bored, lonely, or stir-crazy when we stay home. It just feels normal for us. 

I realize this way of life is not for everyone, nor do I think life will always be this way for our family.

It’s certainly not bad or wrong to spend money on various activities, events, outings, vacations, etc. — especially if they bring you joy! It’s just not something WE do at this point in our lives… and it plays a HUGE factor in our family’s ability to live frugally. 

Yes, SAVING MORE on items you need to buy is an excellent way to live frugally… but SPENDING LESS on everything extra is another huge piece of the puzzle.

If you are the type who enjoys spending money, your journey to frugal living will be a bit longer (and maybe a little more frustrating) but it can still be done. 

Just don’t let yourself get discouraged by comparing your efforts with a family like ours who has very few extra expenses each month. 

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45 comments

  1. Carolyn

    04/01/2019

    I saw hubby give the boys haircuts last night. Younger son with shorter hair was pretty much all use of regular clippers, different attachments, some scissor over comb to ensure a smooth transition, no steps, and the peanut clipper on the neckline and sideburns. My older son was some use of the clippers along the neckline, but mostly scissors and comb cutting the top section and sides. I would not attempt it. Hubby has done hundreds of haircuts, he is comfortable doing the varying lengths from very short clippers cutting to extremely long, past butt length. He has cut my mom’s hair and done haircuts for a couple of my friends. If one friend with quite short hair like yours asked him do hers, I would be comfortable with him doing it for her. But if I was asked, I too would be like Dave and decline for fear of messing it up, especially it being so short, that any repair job would probably require the use of clippers and I would feel horrible.

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  2. Liane

    03/31/2019

    Good for you! I wish everyone had the courage to just say no. There’s so much we don’t need. Just think we do.

    Our biggest budget item is our CSA and good quality food. You’d think California with its long growing season that food would be plentiful and available. It’s not, so here’s one thing we have done and that is to buy local when possible and do our level best to not buy food grown in Mexico or other countries. Ironically that ups the cost. Ditto for good local dairy — costs a lot more than those chain brands. We eat far more simply than we used to. And have a pretty consistent pattern of a good protein, a fresh salad and two cooked veggies each evening. We don’t eat snacks, candy, chips or commercial baked goods. That tends to balance the cost of the meat and poultry.

    We are in our 70s so no kiddos. No mortgage — that went away for a couple reasons — first we only spent $75,000 for our house. We’ve listed it for $699,000. Yes what you read about housing here is true. The first mortgage was 30 years but very low so we tripled payments. We refinanced twice — once to a 10 and three years into that a 5. Our property taxes are killer bad, one reason why we are moving. That and some other issues like a spike in crime, an influx of gangs and no end in sight to the blight taking over a bankrupt state.

    We actually ditched Netflix and kept Amazon, but our luxury is actually having satellite TV in an area with no reception. That’s a fair chunk of change.

    Utilities here are commensurate with the high taxes — even in a fairly temperate climate our combined gas and electric climbs up over $200 each Feb. and water closes in on $200 in summer.

    So food, moderate entertainment and utilities are the big consumers of cash. On the other hand, of all the things you mentioned there’s only two things we spend money on — ticketed sports events — NASCAR — and our “toy” which actually is serving as a second temporary home while we build our new one.

    My mom left me enough to be able to purchase a next little commuter car for my still unretired spouse, and it gets about 40 mpg. Even still we just came back from Arizona where regular gas is $1.00 less per gallon due to taxes primarily. My car is leased. I got sick of constant repairs and towing and back breaking labor so I decided for piece of mind I’d get something reliable with a warranty.

    One thing I will say — while we are in excellent health, we are aging and there are things we can no longer do. I cannot climb ladders or do heavy deep cleaning. Years of pulling patients up in bed coupled with wear and tear on my knees teaching Jazzercise in the 80s and 90s makes it really hard to get down and scrub baseboards and bath tubs. An expense we will have soon is probably a cleaner for deep cleaning and ladder work, windows etc.

    One thing Andrea — your tilt windows— we are putting them in our new construction. I should be able to keep them sparkling. And not have to hire someone.

    And finally, ThreadUp was the very best recommendation you’ve ever made. I’m a retiree at home but I like to look like I did not crawl out of a tent so I’ve copied you on that — about a dozen pair of crops or ankle pants and enough sleeveless tops plus sweaters to keep me from having to do laundry every day. One caveat — some clothing sold by ThreadUp has been inappropriately laundered and has shrunk. If you look for new with tags this can be avoided.

    I bought about 4 pair of Target Merona crop pants over 10 years ago — cotton with a touch of spandex to keep them not baggy and they look like the day I bought them! My secret is dry cleaning. The clothes I launder at home fade over time and develop pills. I guess that’s one of my little luxuries:)

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  3. Debbie

    03/27/2019

    Your family is a great example to many! Living financially responsible is so important and every family has different priorities as to where they’ll spend more of their hard earned income. We’re a 2 income earner household and we enjoy staying home but also make time to watch movies, eat out at restaurants, and vacation out of town at least 2 times a year to get away from responsibilities at work, home, and volunteering. We never want to live beyond our means, but believe in having a life of balance. I’ve never hired a maid to clean our house, only had our carpet shampooed once, and outside windows professionally cleaned once in the 8 years we’ve lived there. If it’s something we can do ourselves, then we won’t pay someone else to do it. When I compare myself with my sister it would look like I live a very frugal life. It’s all in a matter of what we value to live a fulfilling life.

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  4. Susanne

    03/27/2019

    I LOVE to be at home and I fondly remember our “simple” life with young children. As two teachers, our summers were very similar to yours. Fast forward 12 years and our lives feel like a whirlwind. My children are teenagers and both play 3 sports. We also live about 30 minutes from town so we are on the road constantly. However, my children are happy, healthy, kind, and well-adjusted kids. This is just the life our family lives at the moment. I am figuring that I can have all of the “home time” I desire in a few more years. I have a feeling that by then I’ll be missing some of my “busy-ness”!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, that’s how my life was growing up — we all played 3 sports, piano and one other instrument, and were involved in almost everything we could be both at church and school. Looking back, it WAS BUSY (I can’t believe my parents were willing to cart us all over the place) but it was also a lot of fun!

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  5. Carolyn

    03/27/2019

    We try to live frugally and are very much into doing things for ourselves and reducing unnecessary expenses. We switched cell phone providers and cut our bill to less than half. We have a garden, fruit trees & fruit bushes, as well as a good variety of vegetables. When we pick ten quarts of blueberries, then eat them fresh, bake or freeze, I smile as I know they are $8 a quart in the store, we saving as well as eating better. We started our seedings a couple weeks ago, planting plenty of favorites to can and freeze. More nutritious, pesticide free as well as significant savings in our food budget.
    Hubby is the family barber and stylist, he gives my boys their monthly haircuts and I take a seat to have him cut my hair every other month. He is good with the clippers and shears. My mother thought it was great that he was doing the boys’ monthly haircuts and that he gives better haircuts than they got at the barbershop, but didn’t think he should be cutting my hair. She thought I should go to the salon and spend the money, and yes put up with bad haircuts. That was until last year. The salon she had been going to had a new owner, they raised the price from $18 to $35 and she got a bad haircut to boot. She complained about it to me and said my hubby would have done a better job and it would have been free. A few months later when she was visiting, it was haircut night for my boys. She watched and said he does nice work, but it looks like too much effort, she would just buzz them all over. He said he wouldn’t do that to the boys, he knows they are picky about their hair and he cuts it as they want. She replied that he put forth more effort than she stylist who gave her a terrible haircut and she doesn’t want to go back there, but she needs a haircut again. I told her she didn’t have to, have a seat, you are next. Well to my surprise she said ok and did. Hubby caped her and asked how much she wanted him to cut. She was confused about inches, so he asked her how many fingers worth. She held up her hand and said two fingers worth. He said ok, combed sectioned, pinned up and trimmed and shaped my mom’s hair. I thought it looked quite nice and she smiled and said thank you. She was happy with her free haircut. I was happy that he gave her a haircut as she doesn’t have much of an income and I like to help her where I can. We give her eggs, honey as well as fruits and vegetables from our garden, and hubby added her to our cell phone account. So she is saving money and getting a better haircut by skipping the salon too. She comes by for dinner about twice a week and she will casually mention when she wants her hair cut and ask if if there will be time for a haircut. Hubby fixed a bad salon haircut for my best friend about three years ago and she has had him cut her hair for her since. So while some people look down on the idea of home haircuts, I think they are a great thing, provided the person wielding the shears and clippers can do a good job. Why go to the salon and pay for a bad haircut when I can get a great one at home for free? It’s a no brainer, if my mom and best friend who are extremely picky about their hair prefer having him cut theirs, I think I have it pretty good.
    I don’t hire babysitters, I have family nearby and we have watched each other’s children. We eat out occasionally but we host holiday meals and picnics on out homestead as we have more room and hubby is an awesome cook. We keep bees and chickens to meet our needs as well as to sell eggs and honey, as well as the jams I make. Hubby put up an antenna and we get 26 free channels, we just pay for internet, no bundle. We do have two kayaks, fun and great exercise on the water, no fuel or insurance costs. I tell my husband his tractor is his toy, but he uses it to mow the field, rototill, dig holes for posts, move dirt, rocks, manure, wood and clear snow. So it is a work machine, that is needed on our homestead. Make no mistake, it is a lot of work, but I find it very relaxing and satisfying to see my plants growing as I do gardening, and I get excited seeing the fruit ripening and I love to eat apples off the tree and berries right from the bushes. My boys love picking and popping the cherry tomatoes in their mouths like candy and both will eat more berries than they put in the bucket when they are helping to pick. I have fond memories of helping my grandmother canning and making the chili and tomato sauces, as well as her jams. I enjoyed going down in her cellar and getting a jar of beans, carrots, etc. from her pantry that we were going to eat for dinner. I never really thought of it as being frugal, it was just what they did and I loved eating her jam on toast for breakfast or rolls at dinner.

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    Andrea Reply:

    wow — this is awesome. Thanks so much for sharing all the ways you practice frugality!
    I also cut everyone’s hair each month (which saves a lot!) I asked Dave if he would be willing to try cutting my hair and he said absolutely not 🙂 Thankfully, my next door neighbor has a salon in her basement, so I go to her ever 5 weeks for a trim! She’s very reasonably priced!

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    Carolyn Reply:

    I don’t know why some guys are just afraid to do it for their lady. I don’t know if they are afraid they might acrew up or if they don’t feel it is a manly thing to do. My husband has said it is easier to do my hair and my best friend’s hair as our hair is long. It takes longer as he combs it our, sections it, and then trims each successive layer just because of the sheer amount of hair we have, but it is not difficult. And frankly salons are not the place to go if you have long hair as they always get scissor happy and chop off way too much. He says doing the boys’ haircuts are more detailed as he uses different size clipper guards and the shears to blend the shorter hair on the sides with the longer hair on top so you don’t see the line which he thinks looks like you put a bowl on their head. I know what he means as I see boys with that look where it is shaved on the sides, and then a bushy mop on top. So he does have to pay attention as he does them and he is very meticulous about the neck line, around the ears and sideburns. He has given haircuts to female friends that have short hair and he said it is easier than the boys, but harder than long hair. Being your hair is cut so short, it doesn’t leave your husband much room for error, especially if he has not cut hair before. I am not a fan of short hair as it doesn’t look good on me, it was a lot more maintenance when my hair was shorter and I have seen older women who think they look stylish with their shaved sides and short on top, but they look like guys. I have also seen a lot of women with badly cut short haircuts, which sadly doesn’t leave you much to work with to go get it fixed. One friend got her bangs cut way too short and was wondering what she could do with them, only thing she could do was be patient as they grow out. So that might be part of your husband’s reluctance to cut your hair, knowing that if he screwed it up, you would be wearing it awhile.
    So while I have heard snide remarks about my hair being so long for a middle aged woman, I love it long and my husband does as well. So I have no intention of asking him to cut all my hair off short. I know he would not be happy doing it, and I would miss having him braid my hair for me. I enjoy having him comb it out, very relaxing fo me and having him do French, Dutch, Fishtail, side and regular three and four strand braids for me. He was very patient learning to do them for me watching YouTube videos.
    The one point we are in strong agreement is that the home haircuts do save a lot of money, especially when you factor in the time and transportation costs as well. I figure it saves us over a grand a year when all factors are considered. And that is a very frugal victory l

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    Andrea Reply:

    well in Dave’s defense, I have very short hair and it would require a fair amount of skill to cut it properly! 🙂

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  6. Sam

    03/26/2019

    I think I somehow missed the House Payoff post based on the expenses listed.

    Was it up before?

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    Andrea Reply:

    I don’t think I ever blogged about it — but yes, it is paid off and has been for a couple years now 🙂

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    Sam Reply:

    Can you please post about it if you feel comfortable doing so?

    We’re working on early payoff as well 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    you know, so many people have asked me to post about the mortgage thing, but I personally feel like there isn’t much to say.
    We lived below our means, put tons of extra towards principal every month, and paid it off early. Done!
    I would highly recommend setting up automatic payments (we paid more than double what we had to pay each month — and we started with a 7 year mortgage. If you have a 30 year mortgage, I’d pay triple what you are required to pay)

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  7. CathleenMarie

    03/26/2019

    Love this! I work outside the home and a lot of Fridays I get “plans for the weekend?” or Mondays “what did you do this weekend?” or when I take time off “where did you go?”

    People often seem uncomfortable when I reply that I was home or in town and didn’t really “do” anything.

    I LOVE being home, it recharges me. I don’t even mind the raised eyebrows anymore! I love getting older, I care so much less what people think LOL

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah… since Dave is a teacher, we’re asked a bazillion times “what do you do in the summer?” People think we are insane when we tell them we basically just stay home all summer! Seriously, traveling with 4 little kids is NOT a “vacation”… it’s just lots of work away from home. I’d rather be home if I’m going to do lots of work!! haha!!

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  8. Heidi

    03/26/2019

    It sounds like you have mastered the art of contentment and spend money on the things that are of greatest worth to you. I’m sure it also helps that you married someone who is fully committed to these financial goals together. Couples who are both money-conscious are financial rock stars, no matter the size of the income.

    I taught a budgeting class recently to some ladies. I was fired up to show them how to budget as it has been foundational with our financial goals, but it was unfortunate that they weren’t all that interested because they didn’t see how it wouldn’t help bring in more money. If I were to do it again, I’d focus more emphasis on the “why”. People aren’t going to care about the “how” unless they have a vision and passion for the “why”.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Well, definitely not “mastered” — just the other day, I was telling Dave that I felt so “dis-content” with certain aspects of my life, which is so frustrating for me!
    It’s always something I’m working on personally — being content enough to enjoy where I’m at in life, but still striving for “more” so I don’t get lazy or bored!

    Sounds like a frustrating budgeting class — you’re right though, they won’t care “how” unless they have a passion for the “why”!

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  9. Erin

    03/26/2019

    Great post Andrea and a good reminder to live frugally. I’m a natural spender so I appreciate these posts so much (and so does my frugal husband lol).

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — that is something that is “natural” for people too! I am a natural savers… and Dave just doesn’t like getting out, so that contributes to him saving. However, I have a feeling that if he had more of a “normal” job where he could go out to lunch every day or go out for coffee with coworkers, he most likely would!
    That said, I’m thrilled he’s a Christian school teacher because all his coworkers pack a frugal sack lunch and drink the sub-par coffee from the teacher’s lounge!

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  10. Tracy

    03/26/2019

    I have been spending more on going out and experiences as my kids get older. It has proven to be a good way to stay in touch with the older kids. Plus I went from grad school to parenting. Making up for time I was home! Your post reminds me of when the kids were smaller and I was doing home daycare. Glad you are content in your season. My season is evolving and as people from my high school and friend circle start to pass away, I am reminded that you really do only live once. Took 6 of my kids to Mexico this past summer. Planning more experiences in the future before my kids are grown up, when I will travel solo!

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    Andrea Reply:

    We have several friends who are 5-10 years ahead of us in terms of their children’s ages, and they all assure us life gets CRAZY once the kids are older, so we’re really trying to soak up this simpler time of life and enjoy it!
    Hopefully we’ll be able to enjoy the crazier and busier times when those come our way as well!
    And yes, Dave and I have talked about the possibility of traveling “someday” once the kids are older and moved out… someday!
    P.S. I’m sure you kiddos LOVED Mexico! Good Job Mom!

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  11. Meghan

    03/26/2019

    Great post! Your life looks fun and simple and stress free! I would definitely say the happiest times of my married life were when I was taking a year of maternity leave with my first son, and we were saving like crazy to buy our property with cash for our new home. We didn’t go out to eat or buy anything. The only vacation was a trip to the beach with family. Fast forward 11 years later and here we are. My husband’s income really shot up, our kids are in sports, and we travel and boat and ski. We are on this crazy train I feel like we can’t get off. We sometimes pridefully say that we are living way below our means (which is true), and justify that there are so many ways we spend less than our peers, but we spend a lot with lifestyle changes we didn’t necessarily choose but come with where we are in life. We also justify a lot of expenditures because we don’t have time; we have to buy or outsource work/ tasks or we would just add to our stress and busyness.
    Positives of this lifestyle are that we get to give a lot and that’s fun, and we have really good times with our children and have found ways for a lot of family togetherness and relationship building even though we have an 8 year age gap between youngest and oldest. We do really enjoy traveling and going new places and experiencing new things, but it does cost money and add life complication.
    All that to say, I really enjoyed your post and it reminded me of simpler times 🙂

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    Andrea Reply:

    believe it or not, I can TOTALLY relate to your comment.
    When Dave and I were first married, we hardly made any money and still tried to live off half our income. It was fairly challenging at times (looking back, we laugh at so many of the cheap things we did!)

    Now, even though we still make much less than many of our friends, we make considerably more than we did fresh out of college, and there have been times when we are really tempted to “buy more, buy bigger, buy better” etc. — just because we can afford it and we “deserve it”. However, whenever I start feeling that way, I’ve noticed that other aspects of my life feel more complicated and more stressful, so we outsource more, buy more (because it’s convenient), etc. etc. And things just keep spiraling.

    I realize my examples might be on a smaller scale than what you are describing, but I have experienced this in my own life too (you are not alone). It’s difficult for me to find the balance between “happy and satisfied” and “striving for more in attempts to better myself”. If I park myself in the “happy and satisfied” camp too long, I get lazy. If I’m always in the “striving for more” camp, I become dissatisfied and greedy. Sigh…

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    Clarissa Reply:

    Andrea, you just described how I have been feeling for years, but couldn’t put it into words. I bounce back and forth between contentment and dissatisfied. If I am content for too long I feel like I could and should be doing more. So I bounce over to the dissatisfied camp and start finding ways to save more and cut back. Then the monkey wrench gets thrown into the whole equation, comparison, and that makes me even more miserable. Ugh, it’s a fun trip. I am working on being more content and stop trying to be perfect at frugality. “The enemy of a good plan, is the dream of a perfect plan.” This saying resonates with me, so much.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, that’s probably a full blog post on it’s own! So frustrating! And yes, that quote you shared is SPOT ON! I might actually have to use that in an upcoming post! 🙂

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  12. Roxie

    03/26/2019

    I think we all spend money on what’s important to us. Contentment is found within. No matter how much money you spend (or don’t spend) – if you’re not content, you’re simply not content!

    For example, I have a friend who values experiences – so she’s always traveling or taking her kids somewhere. It seems like she’s on the road all of the time. I, on the other hand, prefer to be at home and enjoying my home, therefore I spend more on household items that bring me pleasure. I have newer cars than my friend because I like newer cars (plus I have no mechanical knowledge in case something happens to an older one! :-)). So it’s a matter of setting your own priorities and not looking at someone else’s life and making judgments.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, thank you for this Roxie! Very well said!

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  13. Patsy Dodgson

    03/26/2019

    Andrea, Do you have a credit card that rewards you for its use? May I ask what it is? We use only an Amazon Visa for Amazon purchases.

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we currently use a Meier Master Card that we get bigger rewards for groceries and gas (2 of our main purchases)! I’ve thought about getting an Amazon card though!

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  14. Margaret

    03/26/2019

    Years ago I read that most working class people (me–I’m not middle class) people could meet their obligations, save, and still have enough money for one thing that was important to them if they were frugal in other aspects of their lives. I have found this to be true.
    For me it’s my dogs. Not only their original purchase price (and health-tested dogs from quality hobby breeders are not cheap) and their food and vet care, but I have spent a ton of money over the years for classes, private lessons, entry fees for trials (and gas to get there):this has given me more pleasure than anything else in my life. I love training and working my dogs, and then proving we can do it in competition.
    So yeah. I spend on fewer things than you, probably (except books–the English children’s books from the 1930s to the 1970s that I love are not available in libraries) but I have what I need and what I really want. The only other thing I’m willing to spend money on is quality food; but again, my CSA membership and home food prep means I STILL spend less than most people I know. Coffee–okay, it’s not food–is a great example. Good take-away coffee is about $4. I can buy a pound of organic, fair-trade coffee beans for $10.25–you do the math. It’s very little trouble to make into a travel mug, and I have great, portable coffee for a tenth the price of Starbucks (and no trash, because the filter and coffee grounds go in my worm bin).
    Beyond basic needs and savings, it’s a balancing act. I clearly don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending money on what I really want, but i try really hard to be sure what I’m spending it for is genuinely important to me–not an impulse or a time-filler.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for this Margaret – it’s a very good description and examples!
    yes, we probably spend more on home and yard stuff as that’s one of our priorities right now. We have friends who spend more on travel as that’s one of their priorities. Neither way is “bad” or “wrong”… just different!
    Enjoy those puppy dogs!!

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  15. Nancy

    03/26/2019

    You don’t pay taxes on money you don’t spend: no sales tax on something you don’t buy, and no income tax on money “earned” by not spending.

    Also, Andrea, I love that you’re not apologetic about your choices. And you recognize that there is more than one valid choice and that your style may change as your family changes.

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    Andrea Reply:

    good point on the taxes! Also, things we buy used (garage sales, craigslist, etc.) aren’t taxed either!

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  16. Christine Meurer

    03/26/2019

    You have inspired me to stop spending money just because I’m bored. I never really realized I did it til i downloaded your finance tracker and saw that i could no longer only blame my husband for when we go over budget. 😉 That being said — i have found that Going out for lunch or coffee with friends is well worth the investment! Especially as a busy working mom. It is an investment into your friendships AND (in my experience) you come back with a fresh, renewed work ethic. But I know we have literal opposite personalities!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yeah, the opposite personality thing probably plays a big factor in this. I usually hate have any sort of “obligation” to meet someone at a specified time during the day — even for something fun. It makes me feel “locked in” to that time frame and worry about being late. Then when I’m there, I’m watching the clock to make sure I’m home on time — it’s just not enjoyable for me in anyway!

    However, I will agree that “bored spending” can plague anyone! I just mentioned this in another comment, but my kids and I would often go to thrift stores as a way to “kill time” last year. It was fun and we found some great deals, but it really wasn’t necessary and we ended up with more stuff than I’d ideally want. So, we’ve stayed out of thrift stores for several months now and it feels good!

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  17. Chris

    03/26/2019

    We all have things we are frugal with and other things we spend money on and we are all different in that regards. I just love it though with how content you are staying home and enjoying your family. That is so awesome!!

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    Andrea Reply:

    yes exactly! We’re more willing to spend on house projects versus vacations or cars. Others think we’re nuts for not wanting to travel!

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  18. Ann

    03/26/2019

    I always say that the economy would fail if everyone spent like I do!

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    Andrea Reply:

    this is probably a true statement for me too!
    I’ve always said that I’m glad some people enjoy shopping and spending money because then I get to buy their cast-offs for a deeply discounted price a year later!

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  19. Rachael

    03/26/2019

    Very good point! Not spending is a very good way to save money 🙂 What do you use for your craigslist and thrift store purchases?

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    Andrea Reply:

    I’m not sure I understand your question… can you elaborate on what you are looking for?
    The fact of the mater is I have rarely shopped Craigslist or Thrift stores at all lately. I’ve only been to the thrift store once since Christmas, and that was to find a specific item (which I found!) And I haven’t purchased anything on Craigslist since last summer!

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    Rachael Reply:

    There was a post last summer where you said you took the kids to the thrift shop frequently. You may not do that anymore but what I’m saying is do you use cash for those purchases or would those be reflected in your credit card statement?

    I definitely agree with what your saying here but it’s also important to note that you have renovated your house already so you don’t have those expenses anymore and the fact that your house is so beautifully done is probably one (of the many) reasons you enjoy being there so much!

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    Andrea Reply:

    oh yes — if we go to the thrift store, I use a credit card (so that would be reflected in the “extra purchase”). Craigslist would have to be cash — but I really haven’t purchased anything from Craigslist in ages!

    And yes, last summer, we did make it to the thrift store fairly regularly. I’ve majorly cut back on that as the kids were getting whiney and always wanting things they didn’t need or would play with for a day and then not want anymore. So, it’s been several months since we’ve been to a thrift store (but it’s on our to-do list for Spring Break!)

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  20. Brenda

    03/26/2019

    I get this post, but am having a bit of difficulty reconcialing with your photos. There seems to be no scarcity of play equipment and toys in them. Although it is refreshing to see an area where there is room to play, vs a room overstuffed with unused large toys! Do you purchase the equipment or is it gifted by, say, grandparents, etc?

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    Andrea Reply:

    haha — yes, my children have LEGO’s and a swing set (both of which were given to us for free from friends with older children).

    As I’ve mentioned so many times over the years, almost every single thing we have in our home (and yard) was either purchased used from thrift stores, acquired for free from friends who were purging, or gifted to us from someone else.

    The point of these photos is to show that we are content to be at home.

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