1. I do not consider myself frugal even though my family does (their spending…let’s just say high). When I say my family, I mean my parents and sister. Mr. ThreeYear and the boys are pretty frugal. Mr. ThreeYear is way more frugal than I am, in fact. But I’ve gotten better over the years. I used to like to go hang out in clothing stores. Now, it feels like a waste of time.

    I can still spend some money on food, though. But I feel like it will be a lifetime pursuit of getting better at spending–I can’t imagine the place where I feel like I’ve arrived. 🙂

    • I think the only reason I really realized I had arrived is when I saw that Plutus nomination. I turned to my husband and said, “Really?” He laughed. Oh, how our ways have changed.

      But I don’t want to be defined by my frugality. It’s just a means to an end. Now I just have to firm up what that end actually is.

  2. Love the bit about prioritizing time. That’s been my struggle in particular. I’ll do something myself to save money, only to realize that I spent 4 hours of my precious free time to do it. Agh! The line between saving money and saving time is different for everyone. If you’re in dire straits, saving money is probably the way to go. Once you have more breathing room, saving time might be a priority.

    I think it’s great to keep evaluating your own frugality and exploring what else you could do. For example, we recently started making our own beer and wine. It saves money and also is a fun hobby–double win!

    • I was actually thinking a lot of your blog when I wrote that bit about hobbies. Your cooking, baking, brewing, photo-taking (photography, I know, but I wanted an -ing).

      And yes. The time/money dance has never been more real than when I stopped earning money.

  3. We are frugal in some aspects of our lives (housing costs, clothing, entertainment) so that we can spend more in areas that make us happy (eating out, one day having someone come in to clean our house!)

    I’ve been struggling lately with the time/money paradox. We’re frugal(ish) now because we eventually want to be the masters of our time. It would be nice to be able to decide to work on our own personal projects instead of having to work for an employer (even if we enjoy our “real” jobs!)

    • I struggle with this so much now, too. I want nothing more than to snuggle this baby all day, but I also know that he won’t remember an ounce of his first (second? third?) year. So I can’t quite justify taking the whole year off, as much as leaving him is going to gut me in a few weeks.

  4. “I can hardly follow YouTube videos demonstrating how to tie a scarf. Why in the world would I be able to follow one showing me how to make one?”

    Another post from Penny. Another hardy laugh. I don’t care how frugal you are, keep writing these damn posts. They’re my dose of sanity and tranquility in an insane and volatile world. Anyway, I’m frugal. Not necessarily for money reasons, but for stress reasons. I find the more I simplify things and learn how to do without certain things, the less mentally taxing life becomes. For instance, my wardrobe basically consists of ten polo shirts and three pairs of jeans. No sartorial accolades for me. But I never have worry about what I’m wearing, and I never have to dread laundry day. Thanks for another great post, Penny. Cheers.

    • Simplify, simplify, simplify. I think that’s what I take from a lot of you and Mrs. G’s insights and anecdotes. The more streamlined my life can be, the more time I have in it.

      And thanks for the compliments. You’re too kind!

  5. Frugality has allowed us to work when and how we want, which leaves us a ton of time to spend as a family. And most of the time, I don’t miss the things I was spending money on. When I do, I usually find I can make room for it in the budget if I’m just willing to make a choice.

    But frugality does make you prioritize and choose, and I guess that’s why those of us who do it have such a hard time convincing the non-frugal that the benefits of frugality are worth it.

    • I needed to hear this. I am having such a hard time processing the fact that I will only be with HP for a few hours of his waking days now. It’s good to know that there’s more family time waiting for me on the other side if we can just keep up with earning and saving.

  6. I love your opening line. Frugality is not a destination, it’s a lifestyle and the way you talk about focusing on the benefits it gives you is very wise. It’s a good reminder for when we feel like it’s not worth it. I too maxed out my FMLA leave, and will forever be glad that I did. But it was only possible with frugality.

    • I’m so happy to hear that you did that! I have two weeks left. Time has never felt more precious. HR gave me a breakdown of what each day off is costing me. Worth every single penny.

  7. Carolyn

    I look at financial responsibility as an opportunity to let me do what I wanr to do. Spending money on things I don’t need like a brand new car, when the 7 year old used car I just bought to replace my 2004 year vehicle that died is a better choice for me. We garden, we do all of our own yardwork, repairs where we can, I shop at the Salvation Army store and get clothes that are like new for a couple dollars each for pants and shirts for my children that they outgrow so fast. We eat most meals at home, have a freezer full of blueberries and some vegetables from the garden. We are not in debt up to our eyeballs, we pay all our bills on time and are saving money. My husband was in the military reserves and when he reaches 60, that is a nice retirement check each month. It means with the other sources of income he will retire an work the garden, fruit trees and his bee hives to sell local honey. I haven’t been to the salon in over eight years. My husband cuts and colors my hair for me. I have been told that is being too cheap, he shouldn’t do it, but he always does a great job, I get compliments on my hair and a couple friends have not only told me that my hair looks great, they have asked my husband to cut theirs as they were tired of paying $$$ for bad haircuts at the salon. And he did! Now he gives haircuts to my mom and a couple friends, they were happy with his work and they like FREE as well. I know friends and family members that cannot save a dime and overspend on their credit cards. One friend had her car repossessed because she couldn’t keep up with the payments on the fancy car she had to have because she felt she deserved it. I see worrying about be able to make payments as being a slave to debt. So being frugal is being responsible with your finances and achieving financial indepence is peace of mind, a goal everyone should be pursuing.

    • Carolyn, I’m so glad you shared all of these different anecdotes. You definitely have the secret sauce of frugality working for your finances. Maybe I could get your husband to teach my husband a thing or two about coloring my hair!

      • Carolyn

        Well here is the process hubby uses to color my hair. I told him being he cuts it for me being my colorist falls under that job description. That’s how I got him to do it for me, I told him he was the only one I trust with my hair. Maybe that may work with your husband as well. It certainly saves us a lot of money.
        My husband watched a number of youtube videos to learn the process. He mixes the henna for me, I like dark brown, but sometimes I change the color up some. I buy it online as I cannot find it local, henna labs is my source.
        The commercial box color in the stores and what they use in the salon is full of toxic chemicals that cause cancer as well as destroy your hair.
        He mixes it up he day before, and then he gets his oil changing gloves and I get caped with a coloring cape we got at Sally’s , not a garbage bag and neck strips so it doesnt drip down my back. Then he coats my hair with henna. My hair is is just past my elbows, so I need two packages to cover my hair. I have him trim my hair every other month and he does just my roots every trim and full henna application every three months.
        Here is a good video that shows the process of working from the top and adding additional sections to what I call a mud bun.

  8. You are totally correct that frugality is not the destination. It is, rather, a tool, the means to an end. The end being, of course, Financial Independence, and if you choose, Early Retirement. And, as you point out, it can mean different things to different people. While a 22 year old fresh out of college might be making $50k and frugally living on $25k, that does not mean that the 30 something making $100k and living on $50k is less frugal. It depends what their understanding of frugality is. It is a very personal and subjective thing, but the point of it all is FI.

  9. Frugality is helping us pay off debt, so we have more choices for our future. I’m especially impressed by your frugality, even though you didn’t start saving money with a specific goal in mind. Your money habits will end up giving you so many more options, when you decide to pursue some new goals.

    • I think my goal has always been time. The one thing we can’t, of course, actually buy. I definitely need to firm up some new goals now that my maternity leave is ending. It was really about surviving a period of no income for a long while. Now that we’ll be on solid footing financially, it’s time to look forward! Thanks, Harmony!

    • Perhaps the most outrageous part of all of it is that even though my teaching contract has a maternity leave clause, it is actually a short-term disability leave. It grinds my gears in so many ways that it is framed like that, but I wish we could just be more open about it. For starters, had I realized that the only reason I was getting time off was that I was “disabled”, I would have looked into short-term disability insurance.

  10. Debbie

    Great article. I’ve naturally leaned more toward the frugal lifestyle my whole life and I’ve been really focusing on saving recently. But, how do you get past wanting things? After 10 months of wanting a particular area rug, I finally bought it. Now I want throw pillows to match. Ugghh.

    • You read my mind, Debbie. I was going to answer your question by saying, “I wait.” I’ve found that if I still want something after 30 or even 90 days, I can probably make space for it in my budget or my life. But I also follow the 1 in, 1 out rule. That helps me to be really certain that I want something since I’ll force myself to part with something else.

      And when all else fails, I remember my husband’s feelings on more throw pillows (aka “why do we own these if I can’t lay on them?” pillows). 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.