Friday, January 6, 2012

When is enough, ENOUGH?

Day one of the 23 Day Challenge at Frugally Sustainable. There is still time to get on board yourself and glean some money SAVING tips. Why don't you head over and sign up?

Here is the goal for today......
"Reflect upon your thoughts surrounding frugality. What are some misconceptions that you will need to overcome? How has materialism and useless spending held you in bondage?"
I'm probably older than most of you participating. I've had my family and come out the other side. When I was first married, being frugal to me was like being poor. Frugal people shopped at thrift stores, turned off lights, kept heaters low and wore extra layers of clothing. They ate at home and made clothes on their sewing machines. They had very few possessions, maybe rode bikes to work or school. The kids had made toys or toys that didn't require batteries. Being frugal equaled living a very difficult life.

Then I had my children and wanted to stay home with them rather than work. In order to be able to do that, I had to DO some of those frugal things.

If I had let's say, $20 to spend on my kids clothes, was I going to spend it on 1 or 2 pieces of clothing at a store or find multiple items of clothing for them, in great condition, at garage sales or second hand stores? I bought a sewing machine and learned how to create simple clothing and remake clothes into something else. I learned to quilt to make beautiful, as well as functionally WARM, blankets for our beds. We ate at home rather than going out, baked from scratch, gardened and really cut back on what we spent every month. And maybe, just maybe, we would have some money left at the end of the month instead of spending every last penny, and save a bit of cash each month.

BUT, sometimes enough money STILL wasn't enough. We fell under the spell of consumerism, buy now, pay later. Get a new car, new TV, vacations, new home furnishings and use credit so you could SLOWLY pay back. Wow! That REALLY got us into trouble. The bottom line is you NEVER seem to be able to pay off the cards..... EVER! 

We were literally In Bondage to our credit cards. 

We worked really hard at paying things off, AGAIN, and this time vowed we would never find ourselves in that kind of financial mess again.

After nearly 34 years of marriage, we finally figured it out. Being frugal wasn't about being poor. It was about being rich and contented with where we were. We didn't feel like we had to "Keep up with the Joneses" anymore. We'd rather have a simply furnished house that was clean and inviting rather than a house filled with clutter. We'd rather take simple vacations, even "Staycations" (saved up for), that allows us to unwind and relax rather than visit exotic places with no rest and financed by credit cards. Having money in the bank feels better!

Last year my husband and I decided to go back to more of the frugal ways.

And you know what?


We've turned off the TV and played games. We've thrift store shopped and found real GEMS like THIS bread maker. We've taken up gardening again and were able to supplement our diets with fresh fruit and vegetables. I've made a few quilts and blankets for my grandkids, started baking bread about once a week and canned, dehydrated and frozen locally grown produce for a later time. Instead of always driving we'll walk or ride our bikes. You're right, that takes more time, but it's a good time to walk and talk with each other. It's become almost a game to see how little we can spend on items.

Does that mean we're in a perfect place? No....

Over the years, we've accumulated too much stuff. We spend too much time organizing our stuff, cleaning our stuff, paying extra to store our stuff. You know the kind of stuff I'm talking about. The stuff that has emotional baggage attached to it. "I can't give that away, it belonged to my great Aunt Lulu!" It's old, can't be used for what it was designed for, is basically worth nothing, but you can't seem to throw it away or give it away. It becomes like a noose around your neck! 

And what have we learned from that?

That we have "holes" in our emotional lives that we THINK we can fill with "THINGS" that would make us feel better. We may feel better for that day, or week, or maybe even year, but eventually that "thing" doesn't make us happy anymore.

Then, I think we end up hanging on to the stuff because our emotional bodies remember the good feeling we used to have. We think that if we get rid of the stuff, we will also get rid of the feeling, especially if we are unable to replace that item. But as Oprah says, "When you know better, you do better!" Now we know better.

So for us, it's a New Year and getting rid of THE STUFF is our goal for this year. It's going to be fun cleaning out the old and simplifying. We are ready! I think we will even find a little more of this in our monthly budget.

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