My View of Frugal Living

Blog-Vlog, Early Retirement, Personal Finance

Written by leahb

November 17, 2023

Frugal Living means different things to different people. For me, it is a means to an end. And for all of us, I think is mostly rooted in both how we were raised and our family’s socio-economic status. But it is also a reflection of your personality. It isn’t for everyone. If you are looking to make some changes, or find ways to maximize savings then doing some research about frugal living can go a long way to making that a reality for you.

Frugal Living is Necessary for Some

When I was in high school and college, Frugal Living was a necessity. I knew where every penny was coming from, and where it went. I was big on reusing more because it was a money saver than an environment saver. Even after going to work and making decent money, I was a seasonal worker and had to budget and save in order to make it through the year on what I made during the summers. After I stopped working seasonally, I still had to budget and save because I did project work. Once a project ended, there was no telling how long it would take to find another project and job. I have often had good income, but rarely stable income.

Frugal Living is All About the Big Picture

Frugal Living has just always been a part of my lifestyle. That doesn’t mean that I never treat myself, or buy expensive things though. I do. I just try to make sure to get as much value as possible out of all of my spending and purchases, but especially the big-ticket items. And because my default is frugal living, I can usually afford the occasional splurge. I think of it as delayed gratification. If I stick to spending on only what I need, and then get as much value I can out of the things I have to spend money on, it leaves more for later. I do not pinch pennies or agonize over every purchase. If there is something I need and I know I will use it frequently, or for a long time, I will always go for the higher quality item. If the thing I need isn’t likely to be used often, then I don’t care as much about quality and will probably go for a cheaper version. I also make a point to take care of the things I expect to last a long time.

I am really good at determining the difference between a NEED and a WANT. If I NEED it, I buy it. If I WANT it, and can justify it given my situation at the time, I will sometimes buy it. And sometimes not. Only I know my true heart in this situation, and I wouldn’t dream of telling you your true heart. But be honest with yourself. First about the need versus want, and then about why you want it, and whether or not it is really worth it. AND THEN whether or not you can really justify it for yourself. There is no point in lying to yourself, so get used to being honest about your intentions.

Frugal Living can Help When Life Throws you Curve Balls or Gives you Lemons

At this point in my life, Frugal Living, pragmatic life choices, a similarly minded life partner, and a bit of luck have enabled me to retire early. I’m incredibly grateful for this, but it came with a cost. Steve and I didn’t PLAN on retiring in 2022 and 2023. But after his heart attack, he wasn’t able to do the same kind of work, or be in the same locations as before. And if I wanted to be with him, then I couldn’t either. So we had to find a way to make it work. That meant utilizing benefits we didn’t know we had eligibility for before and preparing to cut back.

In the past, when I thought I would be out of work for 3 months, but it turned into six months, Frugal Living really helped get me through the lean times. When you are between projects, or working seasonally, you don’t have health insurance for part of the year. I was fortunate that this was an issue for me only once, but an accident, or a poorly timed illness can be catastrophically expensive. Try to protect yourself from this as much as you can. Be careful. Live a healthy lifestyle. And if possible, pay for the insurance you can afford.

Learning Frugal Living Before Retirement

Neither Steve or I have enough in our retirement and investment accounts to retire now, but if we are careful, they have another 15 years or so to grow before we need to start drawing from them. What this means to me is continuing the frugal lifestyle and delayed gratification process that I have always used. If I hadn’t started out this way, I would probably find it really difficult to adjust to this lifestyle so late in life. I am WAY more likely to *treat myself* now than I was in my 20s and 30s.

Most of us will need to cut back on spending once we enter retirement. And I will say again, it is much easier to get used to it before you have no other choice. I worked for most of this year, and we have been trying to spend as if those paychecks are not contributing to our household income. With the long cruise coming up, we have essentially pre-paid for most of next year. This allows us to save a bit in 2024 and further scrutinize where our money is going to see where we can make additional cuts.

There are a lot of unknowns coming up for us in the next 10-15 years. What will inflation do to our purchasing power? Will the stock market actually start showing some returns for a change? When I reach the standard retirement age, will our retirement accounts be enough to sustain us? I don’t know the answer to any of these questions, and they concern me. But not enough to be a big issue. We are on the path we are on. For better or for worse. And for now the plan is to ride it out. Only time will tell whether or not this will work out for us, but I’m pretty optimistic given our Frugal Living mentality.

How do you feel about Frugal Living?

Are you a Frugal Living person, or are you interested in the concept? If you are, I would love to hear any tips you would like to share with the group. If you aren’t currently a Frugal Living person, but interested in learning more, I would love to hear your questions that I can address in future posts. For either, please send a message through our contact form HERE.

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Written by leahb

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