There are many reasons to embrace a frugal lifestyle: necessity, to get out of debt and build savings, to be a better steward of your resources, to minimise your impact on the environment, to reduce the stress that living outside your means can bring, or because you love the challenge of finding ways to live well on less.
All of these reasons and more led me to start my Dollar Diet back in 2015. Apart from the odd times where life got crazy and some frugal habits were temporarily ditched, frugality is a way of life for our family.
The biggest factor in why I choose to live frugally is so that I have the money to spend on the things that are important to me.
For me it’s travel and experiences. I would rather see a Broadway-type show than buy a latte every day. I’d rather explore a new place than have a designer wardrobe, and I’d rather introduce my children to different cultures than give them an expensive device.
Frugal living allows my family to have some money in the bank for fun stuff. It gives me peace to know that money is there when we need it, even if that need is just to save my sanity.
Mr G went away for a week recently, as part of his learning-to-be-a-minister requirements, leaving me home alone for seven days with my 3 year-old and 5 year-old. Apart from one day where I’m pretty sure I tore out a clump of hair, the kids were fine and things went smoothly. What was hard for me is that I sleep very, very, very badly when Mr G isn’t around. It’s ridiculous because rationally I know the kids and I are perfectly safe, but the reptilian part of my brain goes on high alert when he’s away because now I’m the one who is responsible for the safety of my kids if an intruder breaks in. Again, this is totally silly because anyone who knows Mr G and I, knows that I’m the one who’d be up for a fight, whereas Mr G would probably offer to make them a nice cup of tea and talk to them about making better life choices.
In short, I was extremely tired by the time Mr G got back home.
When Mr G goes away I run the house with military-like precision. But I made sure I went into self-care mode too and made myself sit down and relax as soon as all the jobs were done. I watched something mindless on Netflix most nights (House Doctor, love it), and took every opportunity to rest. I sat in a cafe a couple of times, people-watching and enjoying food I didn’t have to cook, plus I took the kids out for dinner one night. There was definitely nothing frugal about the week.
Mr G was also exhausted by the time he got home from all that learning and socialising. While the kids were in kindy and school, we shot off to Tekapo and soaked for hours in the Tekapo Springs hot pools. It was AMAZING. We both found the hot pools worked wonders – so much so that we are already plotting our return.
I undoubtedly would have survived without all of those little extras that week, but oh my word, they helped. I was grateful that our past frugality meant we had the money to splurge a little.
I know for many people there is zero room in their budget for the tiniest of splurges. If you know someone in this situation and are able – give them a treat. It helps so much mentally. If there is wiggle room in your budget, set a little aside for the times when you need to indulge in some self-care. You may not have a million bucks, but a wee sprinkle of indulgence can certainly make you feel like a million bucks.