Thursday, January 13, 2011

Beat the Frugal Blues

The great thing about being frugal is the fact that there is no road map.  Sure - it's nice to have bloggers like Andrea at Savings Lifestyle and Heather, AKA "Little Miss Know It All" keeping us all informed of the best deals around and giving us suggestions for how to save, but, what worked in their lives may not be feasible for you.  And you know what, that is okay!

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It took me almost a year of dedicated 'frugality' (and many slip-ups) to realize that living frugally and couponing is not a "one-size-fits-all" game.  I used to beat myself up if I missed a great deal, but then I realized something - I was spending money on things I normally wouldn't buy only because I could get them for $0.18 instead of $2 a piece.  So while I was saving a ton, I was also spending money that I wouldn't have otherwise spent.  I also realized that kicking too many habits at once is a great way to set up failure.  The week that I decided to give up chocolate, soda and eating out was pure hell for everyone around me (and even worse for me).  I found myself thinking about soda all day long, craving chocolate like there was no tomorrow and obsessing over every fast food commercial I saw.  So while in that one week I was a bit more healthy and saved $20, the following week I gained two pounds and spent $50!  Results - not worth it.  So instead, I cut back on those things instead of giving them up.  I let myself eat out with my co-workers one day a week instead of five.  I bought a bag of Dove chocolate and let myself one piece an afternoon (good for my heart, right) instead of a full candy bar a day.  I had a soda if I really felt like I needed it, not just because it was in the work fridge and free.  And you know what - I felt better about myself and really weighed my options.

Living frugally is not about torturing yourself. It's about living within your means and saving for something big.  Right now, I won't lie - there is not a lot of savings because of student loans, credit card debt, a mortgage and a car payment.  But, we are taking baby steps that are allowing us to realize we can be debt-free, we can have a savings and we can still be happy!  Little sacrifices (like making dinner with friends instead of going out) turn out to be a blast and worth it. 

If you are feeling the 'frugal blues' as I like to call it - don't stress too much.  It happens to everyone and it just may mean taking a look at what your strategies are and adjusting them.  Try new things for a week or a month at a time.  If it doesn't work, don't feel bad.  Move on and come up with a new solution.  What are your best 'beat the frugal blues' tips?

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