NaBloPoMo #9: My Money Sunday

| 13 Comments

It's Sunday again, and that means we talk about my finances.

Last week I gave an overview of where I am and where I've been in the last year. I got a lot of very supportive and positive comments regarding the progress I've made in paying down my debt, which I very much appreciate. I'm afraid, though, that's I've made it seem easier than it is. It's hard. Every day. The truth is that I hate to think about money. I love to shop. While I know being thrifty and frugal are good things, they aren't things I enjoy in any way. I'd much rather not worry about it.

I think this is something that sets me apart from a lot of the thriftiness/frugality/debt pay down bloggers I am reading lately. A lot of them actually seem to be enjoying the challenge of living on less. From what I can tell, this is the big difference between those bloggers and myself. I see it as a challenge, for sure, but not a fun one. It's not a game I at all like to play, and I haven't lost of my taste for shopping in the least. I wonder, sometimes, if I'll ever really be effective at living simply and frugally without developing the aversion to buying and collecting stuff that some of the bloggers who inspire me seem to have.

Christine at 10Notes is one of my favorite simple/frugal living bloggers. She's recently written about the thrill of bargaining. Her post, while fascinating, was completely alien to me. Asking someone to charge you less than the posted price for something? Really? Wouldn't even occur to me. Ms. A at Living Without Money posts nearly daily about the ways in which she avoids spending. It is clear that it's not just a necessity for her, but a challenge she relishes. While I can and do put some of her tips into practice, I just can't imagine feeling the elation doing things on the cheap seems to give her.

So here's what I wonder: is there something innate that makes some of us enjoy the challenge of living on less and some of us just slog through it? If it's not innate, how can I learn it? I try to look at not spending as a game, seeing how many days I can go without parting with money or how little I can get a given item for, but I don't find it fun. In fact, if anything, I find it depressing. How can I change that?

What are your thoughts? If you are belt-tightening recently, or have been dedicated to living simply and frugally for years, how do you feel about it? Does it thrill you? Did it always? Guide me, wise readers!

13 Comments

Grace, altough not intended as a funny post, you still made me laugh because I do know what you mean. I have this wishlist of things I'd still like to do in this lifetime and one of those wishes is "going to Hawaii for a vacation without having to think of money". Really, lol! I may see asking for a discount as a sport now, but in my heart, I will always be the reformed spender. I think the longer I've been working on living frugally, the more "real" it seems to become (like Dr. Phil says: behave your way to success). It would really hurt now if I went out to buy myself shoes for hundreds of euros/dollars. I'd still love the shoes, though. Just not the spending. :-)
I don't know how long you've been on the path of paying off debt and being frugal, but if it hasn't been too long let me promise you it will get easier. But I've posted on my blog too about not really BEING a frugal because it's not my nature. And sometimes it gets on my nerves too, or I worry that I'm depriving my kids (or myself, haha). But in all, I choose being frugal over spending because it feels a lot better in the long run. It's thinking long-term instead of instant gratification.

Christine

I have never budgeted ever. I always just 1. buy the cheapest possible version of whatever it is I am buying (not to the detriment of quality, but you know, the generic, the less frilly thing), 2. research all purchases extensively, 3. live without cars or cable, 4. hem and haw about buying anything. basically, if i need something i wait as long as possible to purchase it. I have lived in new york for over two years now and have yet to buy a dresser, because i have not found the PERFECT dresser, for the ideal price. The only reason I have a tv is that someone gave it to me for free and delivered it. things like that., 5. just don't go to the store. ever. it's pretty easy. wait until you need like 5 things before going there. 6. I never ever keep snacks in the house. I didn't get them growing up, so it's kind of natural. But I never buy shit like that. I basically only buy meat & veggies & seltzer.

I realized my comment was bizarre, when I was walking just now. I guess, what I meant was less "tips" and more description. I don't intend ever to belt tighten. I just feel more guilty about spending money when I make less money. So I do it less. I have always saved money because the idea of not having money in my checking account would worry me more than spending money would be worth. When people describe living paycheck to paycheck it FREAKS ME OUT. I can't imagine it.

Yet, as I said, I have never consciously budgeted. I have lived on less than 10,000 a year, and many times that, and I don't feel like I was deprived either way. The idea of carrying a credit card balance is repugnant to me--it was just never presented as an option, so I would never think to take it.

In terms of entertainment, I can find tons of free things to do so I never think to pay for entertainment. I eat out a lot, but almost never buy anything more expensive than 5-10 dollars a meal. I never buy anything more than 20 dollars without waiting a few days.

My sister and I were discussing this, as her money issue is buying LOTS of things that are cheap (which I am guessing is yours too?). I think the whole "for every one thing I buy, one thing leaves the house" rule is helpful for that. Also I think she justifies buying things by saying they are for someone else, like "oh I can use this as a present!" or "oh I can make this food for my dad."

I think it's totally in born and a lot of it is shame based, I am not going to lie. It would pain me to buy plane tickets without many days of research. That's insane. it wastes my time (which is worth a lot more), but honestly, pulling the trigger on that sort of stuff PAINS me. It pains me to buy things. It worries me to not have the money to survive for many months on my own if I had no job. I don't want to have to depend on someone else if a worst case scenario happened tomorrow. That's just how my mind works.

I dunno how you make that true for you. I guess the "holding a credit card balance for more than one month is not an option" could be useful?

This is funny! I hate saving money. I'm really bad at it. It's so hard for me to tighten my belt and not spend money. But... I'm doing a good job as a personal finance and frugality blogger!

I sooooo identify with this! I hate having to be frugal. HATE it. I don't find much of a thrill in finding things cheaply, just annoying.

I would love to feel like budgeting was a fun challenge or thrill. I don't. I find it a constant trouble to remember to behave as if I'm poor when my credit cards allow me to behave otherwise. I'm not a huge over-spender, but I have my weak spots (iTunes!) where it's like struggling with amnesia to keep budgeting foremost in my mind.

I had to come back and read the comments this morning, your post kept me thinking. When I read everything, suddenly I had this idea that makes me grin, but perhaps it's true: in order to stop buying or being really frugal, one would have to REALLY love money more than stuff. The concept of really loving money always gives me an uneasy feeling, like being greedy or a Scrooge or doing anything to get more. I guess with stuff you can make it seem less negative by -for example- deciding it will be a gift or for the house. Perhaps the book by Suze Orman is something interesting to read (haven't read it myself because the library doesn't have it and it was 39 euros in the store and I thought that was too expensive, lol)? It's called "Women & Money" I think. Get it from the library! ;-)

Christine

I so hate budgeting and being frugal that I moved to South Korea where I can pay down debt without having to do any major budgeting. And any frugality I practice is the result of cheaper prices here. However, with big travel plans and medical costs, it's going to be time to tighten the belt. Conviently, I think I'll be too sick to go out and spend money, though I will be buying a new iPod asap. Must have music and mine is broken.

I think it's not loving money more than stuff, Christine. It's (for me) loving the security of money! :)

Also, I was thinking the only saving thing that makes me feel good is CHANGE saving. I know there's some account you can get which every time you debit something, it rounds it and puts the rest in a savings account. I just take all the change I have and put it in a bank and then cash it out. You could make that your budget for fun stuff or just save it?

Sorry to hear that it has got you down. I am lucky enough that I am happy living frugally, but I think it is an appreciation that developes over time. After a while you may get used to the lifestyle you lead and find that simpler things make you happy or that shopping doesn't thrill you quite the same way it used to. Maybe just allow yourself to feel the way you do now and accept that slowly and gradually things will change. I do have one suggestion, though: make a list of things you truly love that will make you feel good or special, and are also free - or cheap. Then when you feel down, you can treat yourself to an item on the list.

As you know, I've pretty much always been good at living frugally. With the exception of one year when I brought home a very comfortable salary, I've pretty much done it out of necessity. Still, I think that even someday when I'm doing better than just making ends meet, I'll enjoy living frugally, because it makes me appreciate things the things that I do get. Every un-absolutely-necessary purchase feels like a splurge. Maybe it's possible for some people to really appreciate everything they buy, even when they buy a lot, but I don't know if it'd work that way for me.

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