Being frugal can be hard.
Especially when you haven't had to be frugal.
Fortunately, I grew up frugal.
I remember having a conversation in high school with my mother that went something like this:
Me: "I feel so bad for Dee's family because they are so poor. They just don't have money for anything!"
Mom: "Lea! Mr.G. makes a much as Daddy does and Mrs. G. makes almost as much."
Me: "What? No that can't be right...."
Mom: "I make minimum wage working 20 hours a week. Mr and Mrs G. Make almost 1/3 again what we make. They certainly aren't poor."
Me: "Ohhh......" (Thinking hard here....)
That was the first time I really realized that it really doesn't matter how much money you have on the top end of the scale. You can be rich as Bill Gates and still be broke all the time. You can have a nice, modest income and be perfectly comfortable.
I have a friend who was asking how I always manage to "look so nice on your income". No, I'm sure she has no idea how much money we really make so she has no idea if we make more or less than she does (my guess is we make more). I told her about my favorite consignment shop and their $2 sale and thrift store with a $3 bag sale every week. She wrinkled her nose and said, "I could never buy used clothing!"
I told several other friends about how helpful I had found my favorite web sites: Money Saving Mom, The Prudent Homemaker, Simple Mom, and, of course, Life As Mom. They would go and look and come back and say things like:
"I don't want to homeschool my children!"
"I work outside my home."
"I could never be a minimalist."
"I don't like Victorian style"
"I don't want to wash my hair with vinegar. It would stink."
"I could never get rid of my stuff. I need it"
"I don't want to cook every night."
"I don't want to have to mend my clothes - I just throw them out and buy new ones!" (Yes, someone actually said that to me.)
Yes, I almost offered them some whine with their cheese! :)
I work outside my home - two jobs currently.
I go to school full time too - for a doctorate no less.
My children attend private school.
My husband works full time plus call.
My husband is in school too.
I am definitely not a minimalist.
I don't particularly like Victorian style either.
I definitely don't want to wash my hair with vinegar.
And I could go on and on too.
Yes, the women who run my favorite sites are very different from me.
Yes, my style is very different from theirs.
Yes, I have no desire to homeschool my children or work from home.
These people still have great ideas and great advice.
I might not make hand-me-downs into beautiful hand-embroidered silk pajamas like Brandy (check out her facebook page - they're lovely!). I can remake an old sheet into a pillow cover to remake a throw pillow that was loosing it's stuffing or into an angel costume for the dress up closet.
Take home message: Make something out of something you already have. Use Up, Wear It Out, Make Do, or Do Without. Yes, you really can. And it can be beautiful too!
I might not have an empty dresser drawer and a perfectly clear counter tops like Crystal. I can reduce my "things" and make room for people.
Take home message: Open your life to the things that are really important, because the rest are, well, just that - things. Having less gives you more time and money.
I might not put the variety of lovely dishes on the table that Jessica does. I can make sure my family is fed good nutritious food while sitting down at the table to eat together every night.
Take home message: Feeding your family doesn't have to be expensive or complicated. Just do it!
I might not have the nomadic urge and green inclinations of Tsh. I can write a family mission statement and make sure our home is working for us.
Take home message: Live the life that fits you. Not someone else - you. You will save money - and your sanity.
I think so often we think frugality is for "those people" - you know the ones. The ones that never have any garbage in their garbage cans, can make a meal out of three random pantry ingredients no one else has ever heard of, and whip up matching dresses and shirts for the entire family from a spare set of curtains that someone was giving away. "Those people" are rare. VERY rare. That's why we hear about them.
The rest are just normal people, doing what works to fit what they want out of life into their budget.
We dismiss what they have to say because we just don't want to.
We don't want to change.
We don't want to "be them."
Don't be them, be you.
Do frugality your way.
Listen to what they have to say.
Take their advice and learn from their mistakes and triumphs.
Open your eyes to what others have to offer.
Use it to spark your imagination rather than having it be your mandate or dictate.
You might just be surprised what you can learn - and save money while doing it!
For more Frugal Friday, check out Life as Mom!