We’ve come a long way since the days I started this blog.
At that point, we were scrimping to live on the $1,900 leftover each month after rent and Tim’s high-risk insurance. Oh, and not just live on it, but actually pay down medical and student loan debt.
Nowadays, we make a lot more than that. I’m still working my way up to disclosing how much. I know I did open up about our bank account balances last year, but this hurdle is one I’m not able to leap just yet.
Point being, there’s a lot more. And the extra money has caused lifestyle inflation.
Some are actually necessary
We tried filling our own, but depression/fatigue/pain and a nearly superhuman ability to procrastinate made it hard for us to stay on top of filling them.
2. We gave up on cooking and couponing. Major frugal no-no. But after tons of attempts, I’m no longer willing to put myself through the cycle of try/fail/beat myself up.
Instead, I try to make our convenience food as cheap as possible. I have two $1 protein bars, two slices of peanut butter toast and a $2 Healthy Choice meal on most days. Not great, but not terrible. Tim tries to munch on the snacks we keep around and sometimes gets fast food or pizza.
3. We pay for yard service (when I remember to book it). My fatigue and Tim’s severe grass allergy won’t let us do it ourselves. But we don’t want to get a ticket.
4. We pay people for repairs instead of DIYing it. In the comments, you guys have been quick (and right) to point out that saving money isn’t worth ruining my health.
5. We pay $100 a month for Internet. I need a business line, plus 99% of our entertainment is online. So we pay through the nose.
I know that these are the right choices when taken in context. But a) I still have to watch the money fly away and b) people have to know about the context. It’s the same problem as my going to my 20th reunion.
So instead of accepting that we have different needs, I tend to view the bills as frugal fails.
There are some actual fails
Well, they’re often conscious choices, so I guess they’re exceptions to our frugality. But they feel like failures.
1. Fun money. We give ourselves a very generous amount. We could cut that down to get to our savings goal faster, but I don’t want to.
I like having a decent amount of discretionary money. And it’s been great for our relationship for Tim to be able to get something without asking permission.
2. We have a date night. I use a coupon for a free appetizer, which substitutes for my meal. But we love our waitress, so we tip generously. It ends up being $30-35 each week, or $120-140 a month.
3. We’ll be getting a dog next year. Tim really wants a puppy, preferably a lab. Which means no rescue animal (almost everything in the pound down here is part chihuahua) and paying a breeder.
We’re saving up a little each month. But once we have the dog, there’ll be costs for food, supplies and any illnesses that crop up. That said, this something I’ve been promising Tim for years. Now that we just have one cat, it’s time.
We’re still kind of frugal
Deep down I know we still do frugal things:
- We stay home most nights and weekends.
- We recently nixed the DVD option on Netflix.
- We ditched Dish for Hulu.
- We switched to Ooma, which means a $3.85 bill.
- We only see movies with rewards program tickets, which also cover a popcorn and drinks.
- I use my beloved Swagbucks, which also helps us save our savings.
- I use cash back shopping sites like Mr. Rebates, Ebates and Extrabux.
- I do my best not to buy things that aren’t on sale… with mixed results.
- Since we’re home all day, we don’t have cell phones.
It’s just that those feel natural to me. They don’t stand out in my mind the way the “failures” do. So it seems like we’re making a lot of mistakes.
I guess I just have to remember that we’re doing the best we can — even if that means a lot of missed savings opportunities. Because sometimes bad just has to be good enough.
What things make you feel like a frugal failure? What things seem like luxuries but are actually necessary?
Image by Tomasz Stasiuk