4 ways frugal living changed my life

4 ways frugal living changed my life

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.

4 ways frugality generates positivity

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”Β  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 beingΒ  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 πŸ™‚

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!

4 ways frugality has changed my life

V.I Poo – Real product or savvy marketing?

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68 Comments

  1. June 28, 2017 / 7:25 am

    I love this so much! You really can’t put a price tag on the peace of mind that financial independence affords. I too find myself feeling more content, accomplished, and overall happy! Great job!

    • June 28, 2017 / 7:59 am

      Thank you Chevelle! I agree 100%! Thank you for reading!

  2. June 28, 2017 / 7:51 am

    I LOVE this post! While my husband and I aren’t big spenders, we were consistently overspending on eating out. We are following a budget and doing much better now, but I really thought that I would hate it. I actually fought the budget for a long time and now that we have it – I love it!

    • June 29, 2017 / 5:21 am

      Good job for sticking to your budget! It’s an adjustment at first for sure depending on how spendy you guys were at first but it’s just so liberating isn’t it? Thanks for reading Tiffany!

  3. June 28, 2017 / 7:55 am

    Hi Jenny,
    I totally agree! I, too, had to pare down my spending several years ago and my life is definately “quieter” as you say and more enjoyable. No more keeping up with the joneses kind of behavior. I am much happier as a person and a momma! Thanks for this!

    • June 29, 2017 / 5:22 am

      Yup, it also helps me for focused parents right? Thanks for reading Marnie!

    • June 29, 2017 / 5:22 am

      Thank you for reading Lindsay!

  4. June 28, 2017 / 8:11 am

    Another amazing and inspirational post jenny! Well done 😊 I’ve never had the cash (or body) for designer, so frugal comes naturally, but your story gives me hope for the consumerists out there! Thanks for a great lunchtime read x

    • June 28, 2017 / 8:12 am

      Thank you lovely <3

  5. June 28, 2017 / 8:48 am

    Great blog post! I think being frugal allows (forces?) us to remember the smaller things in our days and appreciate them. Which really, you can’t buy anyways πŸ˜‰

    • June 29, 2017 / 5:19 am

      Yes! It absolutely gives the opportunity to slow down and appreciate more! Thanks for reading Shelby!

  6. June 28, 2017 / 8:50 am

    Great post and 100% agree with all these points! I read a book called “Happy Money” once that tells you 5 ways of spending money that make you happier and it was along the same lines as above!

    • June 29, 2017 / 5:19 am

      I’ve never heard of this one! Thanks for letting me know, I’m going to look into it!

  7. June 28, 2017 / 9:53 am

    This is dead on! You and I have a similar backstory. I was forced to take a look at my habits after a divorce. When I realized that I wasn’t happy no matter what I purchased, I went the way of frugal as well and have found that it’s changed me in much the same way as you listed above.

    The frugal lifestyle has given me a consumer debt free life, and we still have a nice home & lifestyle while my husband stays at home with our son (something that was important to us) and builds is art business. I, like you, want people to know that this is possible. Step off the rat wheel, exit the matrix, and definitely turn off the tv! once people do that, frugal living gets so much easier!

    Great post

    • June 28, 2017 / 9:54 am

      Yaaaay Jenna! Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing this with me. I’m heading over to check out your blog right now!

  8. June 28, 2017 / 11:02 am

    I love this idea. I think my family could absolutely use this advice!!

    Thanks Jenny!!!

    ~Traci

    • June 28, 2017 / 11:04 am

      My pleasure Traci!! Hope you are well <3

  9. June 28, 2017 / 11:16 am

    I can not even express how much I LOVED this post from the words to the photos, it was honest and directed at ME!

    • June 28, 2017 / 11:17 am

      Hi Hannah! Thank you so much for reading. I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  10. June 28, 2017 / 7:30 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your post. I agree that living a frugal, what I would call simpler life makes for happier people. Less stuff=less stress!

    • June 29, 2017 / 5:18 am

      Yes, yes yes!

  11. June 29, 2017 / 5:04 am

    Great stuff for self confidence

    • June 29, 2017 / 5:14 am

      Thank you for reading!

  12. alyssarohmann
    June 29, 2017 / 10:01 am

    As someone who works in the fashion industry, I can definitely relate to this idea of monetary value being placed on what you wear and how you look, and how it can be a bit unsettling sometimes. I love that you were able to reflect on that time in your life and move forward.

    Thanks for a great perspective!

    • June 30, 2017 / 7:56 am

      Thank you for reading Alyssa!

  13. June 29, 2017 / 3:54 pm

    I was never one to want or need extravagant things like designer pocketbooks or the latest phones or gadgets. I never even liked really big homes. I was a bit extravagant with vacations, but not where I put myself into debt.

    • June 30, 2017 / 8:00 am

      Extravagant vacations are definitely expensive if you’re not careful. Glad to hear you found a good balance!

  14. June 29, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    I’ve never been a big spender, I’ve always been kinda frugal, except when it come to eating out. I’m not much of home cook, but I’m trying to get better and cook for myself more so I can save in that area.

    • June 30, 2017 / 7:58 am

      Eating out can get really expensive depending on what your food preferences are! There are a ton of super easy recipes out there for people who don’t necessarily like cooking!

  15. June 29, 2017 / 9:40 pm

    Very inspiring! We are trying to be more frugal lately too. Thanks!

    • June 30, 2017 / 7:57 am

      Thanks for your kind words Cheyenne!

  16. June 30, 2017 / 8:31 am

    I saw that Ad and I hate it. I can’t believe that actress signed up to do it! It is a product and there’s another product that I heard being advertised on a satirical podcast that I listed to that I thought was a joke by the comedian who hosts it, but it keeps appearing so now we think it’s an actual advertisement. It’s called ‘Poo Pourri’ (I’m sure you can see why we thought it was a joke). I’m so glad that you managed to get out of debt. I ended up being in debt when I was 18, it was for about Β£800 but as you can imagine, that’s a lot to an 18 year old. It truly changed me. Like you, I’m now a creative problem solver. I’m also really good with money now. Once bitten and all that. I hate all kinds of debt. I have a credit card that I make tiny purchases with every month or so and pay back in full (for my credit score – eugh adulting) but I HATE our credit culture. I think that it exploits the most vulnerable in society. This is a great post and I’m frugal too. So much so that my family know to save everything for me because I will either reuse it, repurpose it or find someone who would want to reuse or repurpose πŸ™‚ I feel like stig of the dump sometimes (a popular book for primary school aged children in the UK, I don’t know if you have it in Quebec)

    • June 30, 2017 / 10:30 am

      Yes to all of this. Thank you for reading!

  17. June 30, 2017 / 9:10 am

    I love this! It’s a great reminder to not only spend less time on materials, but to simply be in the moment. Always the goal.

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:50 pm

      Yes I agree 100%. Thank you for reading!

  18. June 30, 2017 / 10:26 am

    What a great way to look at things! I was so curious to see what you meant by saying it adds positivity to your life, because a lot of the very frugal people I know can actually be very grumpy πŸ™‚ But I definitely see where you’re coming from!

    • June 30, 2017 / 10:29 am

      Thanks for reading Nicole! This lifestyle change has really made positive changes in my life!

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:48 pm

      Hi Yadira! Thank you so much for stopping by and welcome to TTBH. I’ll be in touch:)

  19. June 30, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    Lol, I have never seen that commercial but I believe I have seen the product at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I thought it was a joke when I saw it! Anyway, thank you for sharing this post. I know people who just can’t get enough of the high priced restaurants, Michael Kors, Coach, Gucci, Mercedes and Audi…so sad! They are working like 50+ hours a week, some times 2 jobs, to pay for this…stuff! I just want to live comfortably. You know, like not have to wonder how the next bill will be paid or to be able to go visit family more than once every 5-10 years! I want to spend quality time with my family before another person I love dies on me! You are so right that this lifestyle brings happiness and peace, which is SO important.

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:51 pm

      Sadly, I think both products are real :/ Also, agreed with everything you’ve written. Our goal is to live comfortably within our means!

  20. June 30, 2017 / 9:15 pm

    Wonderful post! I have never been one for having to have the latest trendy item, I buy what I like and if I can’t afford it then I will try to make it or I just do without, but it isn’t really doing without because I didn’t need it in the first place!

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:52 pm

      What a wonderful outlook! Well done Susanne! Thank you for reading!

  21. June 30, 2017 / 11:06 pm

    Very nice sentiments, I wish everyone could get on board with this way of thinking.

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:57 pm

      Thank you Jen!

  22. raquel
    July 1, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    Wow what a beautiful blog post! It really helps to put things into perspective and serves as a reminder that whats “in” isn’t really what’s truly important! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:54 pm

      Thanks for reading Raquel!

  23. July 1, 2017 / 4:58 pm

    I’m going through this transition right now, too. Great summary of the benefits!

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:56 pm

      Thanks for reading Kristen! Glad you enjoyed it!

  24. July 1, 2017 / 10:14 pm

    Honestly, thank you for writing this. I haven’t been very frugal this past month and this is SUPER helpful for me right now. Saving it for later!

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:55 pm

      Glad you found this helpful Maya! Best of luck on your journey!

  25. July 1, 2017 / 10:27 pm

    So true! We have just started to adjust our lived in this direction and I can feel the difference already!

    • July 1, 2017 / 10:53 pm

      This is wonderful!!! What changes have you made so far?

  26. July 2, 2017 / 2:57 am

    This post is exactly how I feel! Now I just need to convince my husband. He’s very consumed with material things and it’s slowly starting to weigh on him. We have separate finances for this reason. I have been slowly starting to transition to a minimal lifestyle. Any advice to convince your spouse?

    • July 2, 2017 / 5:42 am

      It’s really difficult when spouses are on different pages. We were both in a situation where we had to make a lifestyle change so we went into this without a choice really. Perhaps you can try a 30 day challenge which wouldn’t be such a permanent change. A trial period might be enough to help him make a few revelations about his relationship with consumerism!

  27. July 2, 2017 / 8:49 am

    I love this article. My husband and I are in the middle of a lifestyle change and it’s so freeing. I told him last year that I wanted to stop spending minqey on stuff and start enjoying experiences and it’s changed our relationship with each other and our money for the better.

    • July 2, 2017 / 8:51 am

      Awwww this is AMAZING!!! Thanks for reading Rhonesha!

    • July 2, 2017 / 9:33 am

      Thank you so much for reading Paula! Welcome to TTBH! I hope you’ll visit again 😍

  28. July 2, 2017 / 11:58 am

    Thank you so much for the tips! Being frugal is always something I struggle with but it always makes you pay attention to the little things.

    • July 2, 2017 / 12:04 pm

      It sure does! Thank you so much for reading!

  29. July 2, 2017 / 12:46 pm

    I truly do enjoy reading other people’s ability to be frugal. I know I spend too much on crap, but I can’t seem to help myself :). I am working on it though. They say the first thing is to notice a problem, now on to the harder steps.

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:40 am

      Acknowledging it is a huge step in the right direction!!

  30. July 2, 2017 / 2:35 pm

    This is such an amazing post!! You are so dead-on about consumerism and how it impacts self-worth and self-esteem….this is probably just what advertisers want to target so we buy, buy, buy. I am a very frugal person and while I feel very peaceful and confident, those traits can sometimes be rocked in San Francisco, where it seems everyone is wearing the latest fancy outfit and dining at the latest fancy restaurant,…neither of which I can afford! Sometimes I doubt myself, then remember I really can live with SO MUCH LESS than they can and feel happy about it! True happiness comes with relationships with family members and friends, being in the great outdoors, and enjoying the moment. It’s so great you are writing about this!

    • July 3, 2017 / 9:39 am

      Thank you Kristin. Consumerism absolutely alters our perspectives of ourselves!

    • July 4, 2017 / 8:09 am

      Thank you so much for reading Luisa!

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