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Staying frugal

August 21st, 2009 at 10:48 am

You know, there is a lot of articles out there on how to be frugal, but there doesn't seem to be as much talk about staying frugal. Like, why would anyone want to STAY frugal?

Well, it might sound like a crazy question, but if you think about it, that's the biggie isn't it? Because like most anything else in life, frugality only works best when you can stick with it.

So how does one STAY frugal? Um, I'm not sure! How about you, what do you think?

Well, I can tell you why I am still frugal, despite having been debt-free and with the net worth chugging along. The simple truth? Well, I'll tell you....

Fear.

Yeah, when it's all said and done, it basically comes down to that.... Because, look, we've all done the numbers on here, and we all know what it takes to achieve any sense of financial freedom.

And for most people, that number is actually pretty big. And I don't mean a fancy life either. Think about how much a house costs, and how much cars cost per year, and basically just trying to create a living for yourself.

And that's assuming that I will keep working without problems into the foreseeable future. Heaven forbid if I run into an accident that leaves me physically disabled or I become ill and am hospitalized for a long period of time.

And if I'm lucky? Maybe I'll even be able to work towards having passive income to replace my active income, which will eventually become necessary as I get closer towards retirement.

As you can imagine, once you know the true amount that is needed to achieve financial freedom... you can't put that genie back in the bottle.

So, even though I am doing fine right now, I am not so delusional as to think that I've got it made. Far from it. And that's why I am as focused as ever to maintain frugality and financial progress.

Some people might think I'm being overly-cautious, but I disagree. The best time to prepare for potential problems is when everything is fine and you can afford to, not when it's about to strike or is already upon you.

And if I'm wrong? Well, having a little bit too much money is the kind of problem I wouldn't mind having. Big Grin

Of course, running on pure fear isn't healthy, and I do enjoy the process as well. But anyways, now you know why I am still frugal, and still here. And now you'll also know why I'll never fall off the frugality bandwagon.

So, how about you? I'm really interested to know what keeps you frugal? How do YOU do it?

9 Responses to “Staying frugal”

  1. monkeymama Says:

    Kind of interesting you posted this BA, since I had similar thoughts through my head lately. You saved me a post!

    First - the level of my personal frugality evolves with time. I've been very broke and have had NO wiggle room, in the past. Today I feel like we have a little wiggle room for a little more luxury. & if we exceed our goals, I feel like we even have room for a large splurge. I think the key is really keeping "fixed costs" as low as possible. If you get a bonus and want to splurge on a trip - what does it really matter. As long as your ducks are in a row, and you aren't increasing the amount of money you are relying on for daily living. I guess that's my overall philosophy. There are many shades of frugal. If I lost my job tomorrow, no doubt I would be hitting an extreme shade of frugal for a while.

    Second - Motivation? I think people who are struggling financially are kind of stuck in the "little picture." How many times has someone told you to "lighten up" financially? That's when it is relative. To the homeless person you are doing great. Doesn't mean much about how well you are prepared to support yourself for the rest of your life.

    Life happens. I've just thinking about it a lot lately in terms of my parents. May face early, forced retirement, or permanent disability. As prepared as they are (7 figure net worth and only living on 1/3 of their income) this will set them back quite a lot. I think they will be okay, but they are worried about it. This certainly changes their course, quite dramatically. One dream they had was to continue to live where they are now. That might be out the window if they need to tap their house for cash. (Though they certainly are lucky to have that option).

    For me, early retirement isn't a particular goal of mine. I like working and prefer to live life the way I want to while I am young (the whole idea of living heavily for the future, just bugs me). BUT I can appreciate being prepared and how valuable my paycheck is with youth and good health. I will try my best to prepare for disability or any other unforeseen hardship. Hope for the best; PRepare for the worst. That is my motivation.

    Sure, 10% to retirement may be fine if I never face any hardship in my life. How realistic is that? What is the probability of never losing a job or having a health problem? 0%? For that I will always save more than the average person would deem necessary.

  2. Jerry Says:

    IMHO, a frugal mind is developed over time, and through effort. I think that people can have their little "areas" where they feel free to spend a little more (and to look for bargains at the same time), which leads to not feeling deprived. It also offers insurance that people can see the fruits of their labors, enjoys them a little, and decide... "Hey, maybe I LIKE this frugal stuff!"
    Jerry

  3. Broken Arrow Says:

    MM, great minds think alike? Big Grin I plan on working as well, because I do enjoy working. However, I would prefer to work on stuff that I like than be forced to do stuff just to pay the bills. I think you're kind of fortunate in that you've found a job you really like. Sadly, not everyone is in that boat.

    Jerry, I think you're really on to something there. I too find the joy in it, but more than anything, perhaps it's like a way of life that develops and becomes habit. For example, there's still a lot of people that not only have credit card debt, but believe that having credit card debt is as normal and American as apple pie and 4th of July. I once thought it was normal too. No longer. Now, I would think I've gone crazy if I started carrying credit card debt.

  4. Aleta Says:

    Like you, I think fear is a great motivator to keep you on track. I found that having the end game numbers helped me to focus on what I had to do. It is important as well, to make time for some expenditures or goals to keep you somewhat sane while you are plodding along. I found that I had to have different financial portfolios in order to address each area of my life. One portfolio was if I became singe or widowed, how much would I need. Another was disability and another one was retirement. I knew how much I would need in each life event. It changes because you may have one less person in your life.

    Never wanting to be where I was before keeps me doing what I'm doing now. When people make fun of couponing; I ask them for a $1. and I tell them I'm going to set it on fire and they just look at you. But that's what you are doing when you don't use coupons. You're throwing that $1. away. Anyway, thanks for the post.

  5. davera Says:

    Hmmm, is a sense of security the opposite of fear? Being conscious of my financial flow is a source of security. Frugality which was once initiated out of a desire to save, is now as much about living lightly and leaving a small consumption footprint, as it is about saving for a secure future.

    I feel I now have more than enough for my needs. With my frugal ways, I have achieved a level of security whereby I know I can survive and thrive no matter what my financial flow is, or the vicissitudes of the economy. I doubt that I would measurably alter my lifestyle or consumption based on more income.

    Maybe this is the same as achieving negative buoyancy in scuba diving! I find there's a sense of absolute balance in finding the "right" level of frugality for one's own
    time and place in life.

  6. davera Says:

    Oops, make that "neutral buoyancy"!!

  7. monkeymama Says:

    Ah, but I take issue with the "luck" angle. I was lucky I had parents who made it their life mission to make sure I chose a job that I both enjoyed, and that paid well. I'll give you that. But there was nothing lucky about the actual process of choosing my career.

    My dh is a good example. He KNOWS what will make him happy. He just hasn't had the guts to go for it. His parents held him back, as most parents tend to. ("HE should get a business degree instead a film degree." Their angle. I think he would have been FAR happier and better off, and better paid even, with the film degree. I get pissed off just thinking about how many years he has lost on the career he preferred.).

  8. Broken Arrow Says:

    Interesting. Ok, my poor choice of words then. Big Grin

  9. frugaltexan75 Says:

    I think the level of frugality a person adheres to will ebb and flow over time. There may be times where the person is able to be really focused and single minded, and then other times where they might have their focus become slightly fuzzy, but then refocus. The reasons for it may be that a person who has a large goal with a set time and end date can keep steadily focused, and then once reaching that point, will allow themself to loosen - just a bit - as kind of a rest period. Then they come up with a new goal or plan, and refocus.

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