For some people, frugality comes naturally.
But I have adopted a fairly frugal lifestyle for the past few years, and I like it. I really do. We are much more intentional with our spending. The constant influx of of stuff has stopped. I wreak far less havoc on the environment. Life just feels simpler.
But what always still amazes me is that despite knowing that there are countless benefits to adopting a more frugal lifestyle, there are still a handful of things that surprise me about frugality.
And they’re not all good surprises either.
It still offends me. Sometimes.
A while back, my best friend looked me square in the eye at Target and said, “Well, you’ve always been a little bit fruuugal.”
I nearly dropped my bag.
She has known me longer than most of my closest friends. She has been there with me through it all. From outlets to full-price stores. She has literally watched me burn thousands of dollars on bags, clothes, and shoes. And here she was, ribbing me for not tossing the entire clearance rack into my cart.
And here I was offended by it.
The frugal truth is that I do still prickle at being called frugal but only when people use it as a pejorative. I’m proud that I’m resourceful. I love the fact that I think to use Ibotta, shop sales, and beat our grocery bill down to less than $250 a month. But when people conflate frugality with being a “cheap ass” (Hi, Dad! I heard that!), it still bugs me. Because seriously? There’s a difference. Just look at the used towel debacle if you don’t believe me.
It’s not my default setting.
You would think that a literal award-winning frugal-ite would default to frugality. You would be wrong.
My instinct is still to shop and to spend. While I’ve largely broken the habit of shopping for myself, I am constantly emptying baby clothes and toys and yogurt melts out of my virtual shopping carts.
RELATED POST: Everything I Tried to Buy My Son in the Past 24 Hours
It’s also part of why we still budget and track our money so closely. And why I don’t carry any cash or change on me except my Aldi quarter.
It just vanishes.
I miss the compliments.
I still shop. I still spend money. But I just do it a lot less. A lot, lot, lot, lot, lot less.
Let’s go down Memory Lane, shall we? There was a point in my life where I couldn’t re-wear the same outfit ever. This was pre-social media but post Clueless. I’ll break this down further. I used to be able to go through an entire school year and not repeat outfits. Ever.
In case you’re looking for an exact number, I believe that is the actual Merriam-Webster definition of a shit ton of clothes.
When you play with trends and fads and style, the compliments and conversations come easy. I genuinely enjoyed chatting with friends and coworkers about fashion. Is it superficial? Of course. Do I still hear compliments? Of course. And I’m still fashionable, thankyouverymuch.
This isn’t an actual sacrifice. I’m not suffering. But I miss the chitchat and the easy conversation. (But no, I’m still not RSVP-ing yes to your Cabi party because I don’t need a $70 blouse that looks like something from the LOFT that would cost half that at full price. I don’t miss the compliments that much.)
It makes such a difference.
It’s not a panacea. It’s not the thing that has single-handedly saved our finances. But frugality and extra income is a powerful combination.
Without frugality, I can say with absolute certainty that we would have just spent every raise. And we wouldn’t have even noticed.
RELATED POST: How Frugality Doesn’t Paint the Whole Picture
But embracing a frugal lifestyle has done so much good for our finances, and it’s easy to lose sight of that. It’s easy to want to lose sight of that.
Because it would be comfortable to return to my default setting of mindless spending and impulse buys.
Because it’s often dismissed by our broader society as something negative or even awkward.
Because it’s often dismissed by the personal finance community as something uncomfortable or even inconsequential.
Because it doesn’t come natural to me, and it’s still not always easy. But I’m so glad we’re figuring it out and making room for it in our lives and in our habits.
So Tell Me…Have you ever changed a habit or a lifestyle and been surprised by any unpleasant truths?