My family has been on a mission to reduce our spending, pay off remaining school debts, and build a giant emergency fund for well over a year now. For much of that time I’ve been chronicling that journey at Frugal Dad. One question I am typically asked by readers, and media types, is if I started Frugal Dad to make myself more accountable. Honestly, that wasn’t one of the primary reasons, but I think writing every day about being a better steward of money has made it easier for me to bypass impulse spending opportunities.
Finding Contentment, Not Resentment
Over time it is difficult not to grow a little resentful of your reduced spending plan. You do not have to look far to find someone who by all appearances is doing better than you. It is hard to see neighbors hauling in new furniture, or a plasma television, or driving home a new car, and not think, “I wish I could afford to do that, too.” This past year it seems like everyone I know has taken a great vacation. We haven’t taken a vacation in over a year now, and frankly we could use the break. But, we stayed home this summer to keep plugging away towards the goal of cleaning up our finances once and for all. We are content to pass on life’s luxuries for now while we focus on living with only life’s necessities (with some occasional fun stuff mixed in, too).
Developing Frugal Habits
Like any new habit, frugal living takes a little time to become routine. It’s not like you wake up one morning and completely undo all the years of being a mega-consumer. And even when you do get all that emotional spending out of your system there times of relapse. Something shiny may catch your eye like a kid in the toy store. It might be a new tool that you just have to buy, or maybe the object of your spending desire is a new pair of shoes that you have been wanting forever, and they only have one left in your size. Learning to recognize those moments, and still make a frugal choice, is what separates the “men from the boys,” financially.
I still occasionally have my moments, but for the most part I am fairly content with what I have. Sure, my vehicle could use an upgrade, but it runs well and gets me from A to B. A few pieces of furniture around our house are broken, or badly worn, and should probably be replaced. However, we are content to “let things ride” for the time being, while we focus our efforts on other financial goals.
So to answer my own question, yes, over time it does get easier to spend less money. At least, it gets easier to buy less things. With the way prices have recently inflated it is still tough to spend less money!