Thursday, May 16, 2013

Things I have stopped doing that lessened the stress on me and my wallet

Frugality isn't a matter of strict Puritan discipline, where you soldier through hardship and grit your teeth, promising yourself a reward when it's all said and done. It's really just a way of living. 

For a long time, I found myself struggling because quite honestly, I just wasn't making that much money.  I did not live in a huge place. I did not drive fancy cars. My expenses were low, but so was my paycheck.  All of the barking I heard about the latte factor frustrated me because I wasn't spending money on that kind of stuff!  Once I started making more money, I banked it. It was a great feeling.

There are times when I slip up and there are times when I knowingly splurge (which is a different situation altogether).  I find that what helps keep me on track are things that aren't necessarily focused on money-saving, but on sanity-saving.

I take a lot of walks and try to get to know the place where I live.  For a long time, in my old place, I didn't do this, and I missed out.  There was a small state park nearby that had ponds, beautiful trails for walking, biking, and horseback riding as well as an old mansion with tours on certain Sundays (it was the old estate of a local moneyed family that left it to the town).  There was conservation land nearby.  There was another old estate a short drive down the road.  Here, I'm near the ocean so that's definitely a draw.  There are also woodland trails and ponds to explore. 

Walking outside does several things for me. It gets me out of my own head and I start noticing things outside.  I breathe fresh air. And it feels a lot different than even doing a hard workout inside (though I'm not against that either).

I don't watch TV anymore besides the odd DVD.  I don't have cable (I did for a few years because the bundle was cheaper than my phone/DSL package, but that changed soon enough--and prior to that, I didn't watch much TV).  This is not because I must live like a pure and holy monk but because TV sucks away a lot of my time.  When I had cable, I got home and I turned on the TV.  I'd blink and find that a few hours had passed.  Now I get home and cook and eat and read and clean up.  Maybe I'll go for a walk or call a friend.

I don't subscribe to magazines (well, I do get Mother Earth News but that's really about it, and I'll probably let that subscription lapse).  Years ago I got Gourmet and Food and Wine as part of an inexpensive subscription offer.  It was escapist fun but it also ended up making me feel awful.  Those recipes called for ingredients I couldn't find or afford easily.  The magazines featured through their articles and ads the shiniest, best, most expensive kitchens and dining ware and wine glasses (and wines).

I don't go window shopping.  First, it's irritating--I don't like getting jostled and dealing with all the noise involved.  Second, if I don't need anything why look at stuff? You're more likely to buy stuff when you're in a store than if you're not.  So I don't go window shopping. That was a challenge for certain friends of mine who always wanted to go shopping; I'd decline and suggest something else.

I try to stay social.  I tend towards being a hermit at times, and so I will force myself to make plans.  I haven't really regretted it.  I'll also invite people over and make dinner.  It doesn't have to be anything fancy--maybe just chili in the slow cooker--but it's fun to get together.

I cull a lot of extraneous stuff.  I tend to feel a lot better if I don't have a lot of stuff to keep track of.  I do have a lot of kitchen stuff but I use it all.  If I haven't used it in a year, I donate it or give it away.  When I had a lot of stuff, I felt like I had to organize it better.  It was hard for me to keep track of things and I got overwhelmed. It was depressing.  I was no hoarder, but it was still a little much for me.

I don't let extraneous stuff  into my house, and I discourage people from getting me gifts (especially around Christmastime, which is a season where people lose all reason).  I really only exchange with my immediate family, anyway.  This is mainly because of the above culling.  If I need something, I will get it (or will tell the few people I exchange gifts with that the needed thing would be much appreciated).

I don't tend to go to yard sales.  I used to.  You can find cool things there.  When I needed certain things--such as casserole dishes, etc., I went.  However, it's too tempting to pick up a bunch of things you don't need because they're so cheap.  One good thing about going to yard sales was that I'd see certain things in all of them.  Those things you see on TV that look so awesome? Will likely be in every yard sale within a few years.  So if you really want the newest doohickey, wait a few years and then hit the yard sales and only look for and buy that thing you want.

What have you stopped doing?


  1. We are at about the same point as you are. There is a vast difference between our "before" life (shopping for entertainment, 200 cable TV stations, etc) and our "after" life (basically all of the things you listed above). I think your life sounds wonderful!

  2. A few months back I took a good look at our finances and the enormous amount of debt we are in an I decided enough was enough.. I cut our cable bill by swapping companies. I don't watch much TV except for what I DVR but my husband is a big movie watcher so he wouldn't let me cut it all together or believe me, I would have..

    I have been trying not to spend on anything that is not neccesary. I am trying to pay down our debt each month. We are on a fixed income so it's slow going but it's going.

    I have planned on spending however long it takes to clean out my house. We have so much STUFF! I feel claustrophobic. SO if we don't use it, love it or need it, it goes. Either I'll try and sell it, donate it or give it away to someone I know needs or wants it.

    Ive also set up an automatic deposit into my savings account each month and I have a mason jar at home that I put money into each month as well. We used to go out and replace things as soon as something went wrong. No more. Now, if it can be fixed, it gets fixed. Ive learned also to meal plan which has saved me a lot of money in food and I've learned to freezer cook as well..

    Little changes but they're making big differences.. Great post..

    On another note, have you been getting hit with a lot of spam on your blog lately? I put up a post on mine this morning about it. Im getting killed with it lately.. not sure whats going on or why..

    1. I haven't gotten much in the way of comment spam (pretty much one or two since I started the blog a couple of years ago) but I do get a fair bit of referrer spam.

  3. Good post! Although since I took up knitting this past winter I find myself being sucked into yarn stores ... I have no willpower ... I already have quite a stash and I've only been doing this for 4 months ...

  4. I cut out magazine subscriptions. I could not afford them but only bought with a good deal. I rationalized that I don't go to bars or much of anywhere that costs money. I am perfectly happy to stay home and read. However, I cut them out as they expired. I do use mycokerewards to get one subscription. I was/am about to the bone on everything else.