I grew up in a lower middle class family. Ours was a one-income household until my father, the wage-earner, lost his job in 1999. Frugality became a clear concept to me when I started assuming the role of breadwinner in a family of six right after I landed a job fresh out of university back in 2004. How our family survived from 1999 to 2004 was clearly a manifestation of the great love and sacrifice of my parents, our relatives, friends of our family, and of course, divine providence.
Frugality as a Need
These days as a married woman, I still find frugality a very relevant concept as I try to be a good and responsible wife. Of course, it’s the same with my other roles such as daughter, sister, friend, and citizen. How can I not apply frugality in my life when I’m not at all wealthy and my income is limited? I have to be frugal if raising my own family and having a comfortable retirement are part of my life goals, right? But the more important question is, how frugal am I?
Level of Being Frugal
First of all, I’m far from being like those people featured in the Extreme Cheapskates show. I never stop at nothing to spend nothing. I don’t think I can do what those people do but they have my utmost respect and admiration. They are a rare breed!
You see, I just try to live simply and manage my finances well. I keep track of my expenses and set limits in my (impulsive) purchases. I now buy lesser stuff than before and even succeeded in my self-imposed shopping fast in 2014. I try to allot money for every imaginable expense there is. I pay my bills on time. With my sole credit card, paying in full is a must. (If you wanna learn how I became credit-card debt free, read here.)
Use of Resources
Just like most people, I still make money mistakes from time to time. I even sometimes fail at getting myself the essentials. For instance, I have yet to get a health card because
I’m stubborn and lazy like that I’m waiting for our employer to pay for it or subsidize it at the very least. (I heard this year our union is going to include it in their talks with the management.) I splurge on expensive things (though I can’t help but set a limit still!) when I feel like giving myself a reward for something I’ve accomplished. I treat my loved ones during special occasions and whenever I have spare money. And I give out material gifts to people not out of need but out of love.
As a self-confessed frugal person, I refuse to follow shopping trends. I normally wait for the fad to die down before I show some interest. In those rare times I would buy a trendy item because I found it worthy of my money, it would already come with a huge discount. I look at and admire nice stuff in shops, both online and offline. I even buy an item or lovingly ask the hubby to get it for me sometimes. Haha. Recently, I’ve been avoiding shopping sales in malls like a plague. I don’t know but their allure is no longer effective to me.
I dream of owning a designer bag (know what my ultimate dream bag is by clicking here) not to show off but to know how it feels to own one and with a plan of passing it on to my future daughter. I also dream of a Europe sojourn with the hubby, perhaps on our 25th wedding anniversary? I still have 21 years to save money for that! I guess by then we’d also need to get some practical winter stuff and read Cozy Winters Reviews for smart shopping guidance. Haha.
I use just one cellphone (but this is more of a personal preference than a frugal practice). I refuse to replace my Parfois wallet even if the synthetic leather on its sides and edges are chipping off already. (In my defense, it’s still useful to me and I like how its many pockets were strategically positioned inside.) I go on a road trip, have a staycation, see a new place, and travel out of the country only after a careful planning and after checking if I have enough funds for them.
When it comes to food, I don’t deprive myself of the good stuff. (Staying with my in-laws during weekdays in Manila allows the hubby and me to save on food expenses, and for that we are grateful.) I eat well and along with the hubby, try out new restaurants every once in a while. In fact, bonding with family over food is one of our guilty pleasures!
As for time, which is a very important resource, I try to use it wisely. There are still occasions when I feel the need to slow down and do nothing, and I let myself do just that. As much as possible though, I counter these unproductive pursuits by reminding myself of all the things I wanna do but don’t have much time for such as reading (I keep a list for this), watching old movies (same here), learning to sew and crochet, doing DIY projects, baking, cooking, exercising, gardening, decluttering, sorting out my PC files, updating my notes (I keep a lot, you know), spending time with the hubby, bonding with my family, and more.
But let me tell you I still fail at a lot of things where frugality can be implemented. Like I’m not so serious at conserving water and even indulge in long showers almost every night. Red meat remains to play a big part in my diet. I’m easily tempted to buy nice and affordable necklaces with character even if I already have enough and don’t get to wear them often. I also have this habit of buying new white shirts to replace my stained ones instead of taking better care of them and washing them more mindfully. I love writing on post-it notes at work and use them liberally just because I don’t pay for them (ooops!). Oh, and I still use sanitary napkins instead of switching to a menstrual cup which is more friendly to our Mother Earth (sorry, TMI). I know I need to work on these things and change for the better. One step at a time.
So, I guess I’m your regular frugal woman who use up resources for quality, value, memories, and joy (in that order). I just make a smart choice of spending less, saving more, and living a more sustainable life. I still make mistakes and learn from them as I go on with everyday life. I eat well and abhor food wastage. I value my time and those of others. I work hard to earn money so I could “pay myself first,” live a simple life, and do and buy things that make me and those people dear to me happy and feel loved. I also do my share in showing compassion and generosity to those in need in my own ways and means. Recently, I’ve realized that frugality is not just a need for me now, it’s starting to be a cause that’s worth pursuing.
Some Frugal Advice
Being frugal is a continuous journey so it’s inevitable that one will encounter challenges along the way. These will constantly tempt you to break your self-imposed rules and commit mistakes that may hinder you from living frugally. It’s a test of patience and discipline and character.
It’s okay to make mistakes because that’s when you’ll learn more about yourself and your capability to make your dreams come true. Remember that nobody’s perfect and even successful people continue to experience failures. But as long as you’re focused and determined, a bump or two on the road won’t keep you distracted for too long. If you really believe in the philosophy of frugality, no one and nothing can stop you from being frugal.
Just because you haven’t experienced poverty growing up doesn’t mean you can’t live frugally. It’s a choice. Even wealthy people practice frugality in their own ways. It’s something that can be done regardless of age, color of skin, economic status, location, and religion (I guess). You could always start at the level you’re comfortable with and work from there. And once you have embraced frugality, I can tell you from my personal experience that life only gets better.
Now, answer the question above and let me know your thoughts on frugality! 🙂