Frugal living is a pretty simple idea. Spend less, save more. Individuals have very different ideas of what that means and how to go about living a frugal lifestyle. Try mixing a married couple with different ideas of what that means. Some people think that eating out a few times a week, rather than five plus times a week is living frugal, but their partner may think eating out should be a thing of rarity. Others think purchasing store brands of groceries instead of brand names can be the frugal way to go.
Living frugally is a return to an old idea for me. I lived frugally as a kid because I didn’t know different. I was an only child and my parents weren’t exactly living high on the hog. My favorite Christmas was the year we got new carpet for the living room. There were no other presents, but I was so happy with that shag carpet. Once I got married things were no different because my husband made $3.15 per hour. We made it through with love and my mom bringing us some groceries. I remember our favorite meal was $.29 chicken legs in shake n bake coating and a chocolate pudding pie. That was our Sunday dinner after church.
Over the years we made much more money, but we had six mouths to feed, if you don’t count the cattle, chickens, swine, and other assorted livestock roaming our back 13 acres in Michigan. My husband and I communicated differently when it came to money. This lead to many issues and frustrations.
We sold the farm and moved to Florida. I made so much more money than I ever had before and frugal living went right out the window. We were going out to eat lots, I went shopping lots, I spent lots of money, so did my husband just on different types of things. I learned what good cosmetics can do for you, I learned what awesome coffee ( I mean the really expensive stuff) tasted like. I became a sort of snob about the stuff I used. Too funny isn’t it? What a joke.
Then came the great lay off of 2010 and business disaster of our lives. Suddenly I couldn’t afford the little comforts that I had come to expect. It caused my husband and I to become very honest with each other. It also changed my perspective of how we would survive with the amount of bills we had. The first frugal thing we did was look at how we could cut down on the bills.
We learned how to communicate again and discuss everything. A very wonderful way to do things that greatly improved our relationship. This began our road to living frugal. We wanted to keep our lifestyle as close to what we were comfortable living without spending so much.
The very first thing we did was save every dime possible to purchase a home of our own. We paid $42,000 for a beat up 3 bedroom, 2 bath home on a smaller lot than our previous home. The house is bigger by 200 feet than our previous home. We remodeled, updated, and generally improved this house into our home. It isn’t fancy, but it is us. If you walk in the house you can see our personality coming through. We love the no house payment life! I have to tell you not having a $749 monthly house payment, plus $250 second mortgage is awesome!
We cut the cable. Yes, we cut the cable and did not purchase satellite. We put up an antenna. We are quite fortunate to live in an area with lots of channels. Chris’ company had a competition and their division won and we got a wii. We play games and watch Netflix. We no longer spend $150 on cable tv and internet. We now spend $44 on internet and Netflix. This took quite a bit of getting used to. The only thing we still miss is the Tivo. We were discussing this last night. We would like to find a way to record shows. Chris missed the latest Big Bang Theory and has been very disappointed.
The phone situation changed a little before our personal disaster, but has been pretty easy living with. We bought Ooma ages ago for our home phone. This is a voice over internet phone (Voip). We paid $179 for the whole system and no longer have home phone bills. We have a home number for those things that need a home phone, but rarely use the home phone. This was done about 5 years ago and has more than paid for itself. Quality is only as good as your internet speed, but well worth it for us. Last winter we dropped T-Mobile for Metro PCS. We had 3 phones for $80 plus taxes that only paid for actual phone calls. Now we have 4 phones paying $100 of which our son pays half. We now have text and talk. That ended up being a $30 savings for us. The great thing about it is that there is no contract. So we can change companies at any time.
You see for us living without cable is an acceptable frugal lifestyle change, but I know people who would figuratively die without it. Living with a voip phone is a easy way to deal with having a home phone without the cost and Metro PCS has been great. I have only lost service once on a trip and I was in the middle of I don’t know where South Carolina.
Since 2010 we have saved a total of $1,185 a month. This doesn’t mean we saved and have this $1,185 x 32 months saved up. I lost my job and Chris’ job keeps changing. We lost 70% of our income since 2010. These changes have just made our lives easier and less stressful.
I have not included the fact that we paid off our Dodge Ram during this time. We also saved money so that I could go to Omaha, Nebraska to see our grandsons born, twice. We went to Michigan to work on our disaster once, Chris and I were able to visit Nebraska twice together, Michigan once on vacation, and once for a funeral. We were able to rent a weekend cabin in Georgia once, a week in Tennessee at a cabin with our daughter and her family once. We were also able to visit our daughter in Illinois after they moved from Omaha. We helped pay for our youngest daughter to get married, and we went to Mexico to see our eldest daughter get married.
Has it been easy? No. It has been worth it. We don’t owe anyone anything, we don’t hold our breath when checking the mail, there are no phone calls from bill collectors. Life is a little easier when you can breath!