Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Becoming Frugal

Thanks for your recent comments. Sorry I haven't been around - we still don't have the internet and I have been writing at home to post at the coffee shop down the road!

It's been about a year since I started this blog.

I had just finished University and once the graduation ceremony was out of the way I was faced with the stark reality of my bank balance. I was pushing the limits of my overdraft, I was carrying a (small) balance on my student credit card and I was just about to borrow a few hundred pounds to replace my car, which I needed to get to work.

I used a budget at University, which worked well when the going was good, but it had no room for error. When anything unexpected came up (car repairs, dental work, a night out, a trip home etc.), I didn't have a back up. The money came out of next week's/month's budget, which of course sent me into a downward spiral of not having enough money at the end of each student loan instalment!

When I got my first job after Uni (a chambermaid in a hotel – top graduate employment!), I wanted to learn how to budget properly. I spent hours learning why my Uni budgets never worked and how to fix it (answer: no wiggle room). I eventually came across some of the Frugal Living websites and blogs. I had never really stopped before to think about HOW to save money, just that I knew I should! (My frugality at University stretched to Tesco Value everything, but that was about my limit!)

When I first began work last summer I was still determined to live away from home as soon as I could afford it. I figured since I was earning I could afford to do pretty much as I pleased. Once I had read up on frugality I swung the other way and entered extreme frugal mode! Have you ever read Mr. Money Moustache's post about how debt is an emergency? He says if you're in debt then you should buy food and fuel to get to work, and the next penny you earn should be put towards debt. Well I was almost that extreme. I felt guilty spending money on ANYTHING that wasn't absolutely essential. I was constantly saying no to invites and learned how to make do and mend instead of buying things.

It did work though and I quickly paid back my debt, despite working for minimum wage all year. Since then I guess I've become a bit more extravagant (if I want a coffee, I'll buy a coffee), but I tend to keep myself out of situations where I am likely to buy unnecessary things. I enjoy reading new tips for frugal living, recipes and avoiding wasting money.

It's easy to slip back into old habits even now. I would like to take a step back up the frugality ladder. Life is much more expensive living away from home, even if it's on a student budget. We're settling into a routine now, and we've got the basic essentials we need (sofa's arriving on Tuesday!). Now the new truly frugal budget starts. Let's see how low we can go!

What about you? Are you frugal or a spend-a-holic? Have you always been like that, or is there a turning point story you'd like to share? :D


Frugal Living UK said...

Good to read your post. Good luck and I hope you really enjoy your time in Bristol.

Penny Wise said...

Really enjoy your posts. Not sure how I started obsessing on frugality. But I get real pleasure from landing a bargain and spending my money in the projects that need it.

cumbrian said...

A nasty (un-wanted) divorce at 55 left me homeless, jobless and moneyless but sadly not debtless.

This forced me into frugality which has since become second nature, and made me realise just how little we really need, as opposed to want or think we need.

50 and counting said...

I learnt the difference between wants and needs when I was a stay at home Mum in the early 90s. We managed to stay out of debt, pay the mortgage, run the cars, and feed the dog. Not a lot luxuries but nobody suffered either.

What is starting to bother me about some of the frugal blogs I read, is the lack of joy in their lives and how some feel almost above us by never buying anything new, enjoying a coffee out and are positively rude to posters who dare to question their options.

I'm glad you enjoy a coffee out. I have a joy of magazines. I don't buy a lot, I can go months without buying one, but I'm not going to deprive myself out a feeling of superiority.

Bryallen said...

I definitely hear you, 50 and counting.

A few frugally types take things too far, in my opinion. I think when you're paying off debt then I understand that it feels better to make a strong headway fast, to keep momentum, but some people seem to take frugality to an extreme I would not appreciate.

Some things I've seen people give up include: giving family birthday presents, going out to eat even on very special occasions, going on a trip somewhere for the day, even just leaving their house for fear of spending money!

Donna said...

I have always been frugal and been fortunate enough in life to never have any debt. When I earned the minimum wage, I was grateful to be able to take care of my needs. As I earned more I kept my basic lifestyle simple and started saving and investing. I always had a savings account for my wants as soon as I had an emergency fund. I am not rich, but was able to retire with enough money to take vacations, eat out, give presents and give to charity.
I wish you good fortune on your life journey. I too started out with low paying jobs after college. It took about 10 years to a stable job. You seem to be on the right path. Being frugal gives you more choices with how you spend your money. Hopefully you will have some money to spend on fun.

Pamela said...

I enjoy your posts, Bryallen! I've been offline a lot lately thanks to some increased business (long story). I strive to be frugal but I fail a lot along the way. However, I'd rather have time than things (and would rather have security in case I get laid off again), so I figure I'd rather be frugal and save money for a rainy day.

lizzie said...

I dont have be frugal but it is a good choice for me as I hate waste of any kind, too many years of having to be very careful. I do agree with 50 and counting, many frugal bloggers are reformed spendaholics and sometimes take the moral high ground and treat their readers like idiots.
I dont spend a lot but every so often if I see something I really want (Nigel Slater s new Kitchen Diaries !)
I buy it and enjoy it.
What you are doing at your stage of life is very good as it teaches you how to manage your money which is a great life skill.
At my age I am looking for "pearls"

Scarlet said...

I've been frugal most of my life. It has meant that I could buy a house when I was 18,work part-time or not at all once I had my children, and not have to panic when a heart condition finished my working life. There isn't much ( anything) spare really, but we're happy and that's the main thing. There will always be those who take things to the extreme, those who are of the ' do as I say and not as I do' brigade, and those who aren't telling the complete truth - the clues are there!