10 years ago I was a completely different person. To the outside world I appeared to have it all together. I wore fashionable big ticket clothes, had killer designer handbags and wore expensive and uncomfortable footwear. I was a marketers dream! If it was “in” I had to have it. If it was trendy – I was the first in line to buy it. If it made me “appear” more successful, put together, worthy or important you bet I’d drop cash on it. I was a hostage to consumerist chaos and the more, more, more narrative that marketing and consumerism convinces us should be part of our lives. I lived my life by establishing my worth as a person by what I owned. The major caveat was that I had a dirty
little secret. I couldn’t afford that lifestyle, it made me miserable and no matter what I bought it was never enough. The cycle continued and continued until we found ourselves in a ton of consumer credit card debt and facing the harsh reality that we had to make significant lifestyle changes if we wanted to get a grip on our spending and regain control of our finances.
If you’ve been reading here for some time you’ll already know that we managed to pay down that debt by completely transforming our lifestyle. We went from being massive over-spenders to living a frugal lifestyle. We slashed our spending everywhere we could so we could finally get a handle on our poor financial choices. To be perfectly transparent, I don’t think either of us thought we’d actually like living a frugal lifestyle. Way back when, we entered into this thinking that we’d do it for a while to get rid of that debt and then slowly transition back to a more normal consumerist life.
Frugal living has transformed more than just our bank account. Sure, we’ve been able to pay off that debt, buy a home with a 50% down payment and consistently put money away into our savings but beyond that it’s transformed who we are as people. I wont get into the details about Mer’s thoughts on the subject because they are his. But, I can tell you that adopting a frugal lifestyle and adhering to frugality for nearly a decade has transformed my life in ways I never imagined.
Not only have I developed a far greater respect for money but frugality has graced my life with so much positivity and insight that I would have previously taken for granted.
Crazy hunh? It’s really surreal to think that I’m actually happier having less stuff and spending less money! I’m a firm believer that frugality changes your outlook and regard for everything that surrounds you. I believe wholeheartedly that by severing ties with consumerism one is finally released from negativity, unrealistic social expectations and envy. Maybe I’ll get into that another day but suffice to say that I really and truly believe that frugality sparked significant positive changes in my life.
My emotional health has improved
Nothing sucks more than constantly feeling inadequate. Consumerism has this way of convincing us that if you don’t have the newest car, clothes or gadgets we are somehow failing at life. One of the major consequences of living a hugely consumerist life is feeling inadequate when you can’t keep up. This whole keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle can negatively affect your self worth, confidence and agency if you allow consumerism to manipulate you into thinking that you are only as worthy as how much stuff you have. Sure, there might be people out there who aren’t as easily influenced by these ideas but generally speaking the goal of marketing and consumerism is to get you to buy more, more, more by playing with your emotions.
By severing those ties and not allowing myself to be manipulated by consumerism I’ve had no choice but accept and manage my emotional health. Buying to fulfill a need or to make myself feel better were no longer options and so for the first time ever I had to deal with the emotional side of buying in a more hands on way. Frugality has helped me realize my self-worth is absolutely not dictated by the car I drive, the clothes I wear or the stuff I own. My worth is now established by my core values, beliefs and lifestyle choices.
I’ve become a creative problem solver
Faced with no choice but “deal” I’ve had to become incredibly creative when solving problems. Pre-frugality I was totally that person who would haul myself to the store to buy anything and everything that would make my life easier. Quite honestly there seems to be a costly solution for just about anything available for purchase.
Tangent -> Mer and I were watching T.V last night and there was a commercial for V.I Poo by Airwick. Did you see it? If not, I’m including it here because it needs to be discussed. I’m still not 100% sure I buy that this is a legit product and not some marketing tactic. Although V.I Poo is for sale on sites like Amazon.com and Well.com. (Note <—- I would never affiliate link that) so maybe there’s a market for this? In any case, this right here folks is proof that there is a solution for all of the world’s “problems” no matter how small. Now, you can even deodorize the toilet bowl before releasing “devil’s donuts”. Essentially, we’re being poop shamed.
So back to the point. I’ve become far more creative and a better problem solver. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to re-purpose, build or create something from what I already had on hand. When you don’t have the option to spend money on things to make your life easier or solve a problem you have at hand it’s pretty amazing how resourceful you will become. I’ve become an expert at scouting out what I need without spending any money at all.
I’m more patient
Confession time. I was a hot headed, impatient, stubborn diva pre-frugality. Why? I was totally overcompensating. I think we all naturally deal with certain levels of insecurity when it comes to our lifestyle choices and professional lives. Consumerism in some respects teaches us that buying stuff helps us deal with those insecurities right?
Consumerism gave me an “out” because I was able to compensate for the areas of my life that made me feel insecure by buying more and more stuff the mass media convinced me a I needed to be more confident, more professional and generally a better human being. By cutting ties with that lifestyle I’ve had to employ frugal tactics to stretch our budget and get us out of a deep financial sink hole. The consequence? I’ve learned to appreciate a lifestyle that is far slower, far less competitive and generally more quiet. Although I might be surrounded by people who live a very consumerist lifestyle (and that’s okay too!) I’ve disassociated myself from it and no longer feel like I’m part of that rat race. I’m now more patient, accepting and if you ask Mer probably more fun to be around 🙂
I enjoy my friends, family and life more
The consequence of all the above is that I’m far more present and by consequence I’m able to enjoy the things that are truly important to me which are my family, friends and the bounties that this life have blessed me with. By living frugally, I’m not consumed with the need to identify by what I wear, own or where I eat. Instead, I’ve had to really get to know myself and acknowledge who I am as a person. These insights are what make being present so much easier. Without frugality I’m sure I’d still be the woman who was uncomfortable in her own skin and who feared being judged.
Interested in reading even more posts about frugality? Have a look at these!
- The buyerarchy of needs
- Why buying used isn’t gross
- 10 things you can do right now to save money
- Why we’ll never buy a new car and neither should you
- How to incorporate bartering into your life to save you money
V.I Poo – Real product or savvy marketing?