Frugality weaves itself in and out of my days, imprinting its essence into everything I do. It sneaks its influential self into what I do and how I approach life’s challenges. Like Peter Pan’s shadow, I’d be lost without it.
From the time I emerge from my cocoon of thrifted bedding until I crash back into bed, frugality is both my friend and my trusty tool; giving me both the companionship and necessary equipment to live richly in the absence of a trust fund.
Some see frugality as synonymous with deprivation, and to those I say “try to reframe your mindset.” Of course, the difference between choosing frugality and having frugality thrust upon are worlds apart. But that doesn’t mean they can’t find a middle ground.
I started my obsession with extreme frugality when I was gifted with a copy of Amy Dacyczyn’s The Tightwad Gazette in 1998. I was on maternity leave with my younger son, and had just come off of a couple years of higher income that had loosened my wallet without anything to show for it. (Going from broke student to big-paycheck-RN should have come with a manual!) I needed this book. I needed frugality.
But just because I needed frugality didn’t mean it couldn’t also be fun.
My frugality has changed through the years, shifting away from snapping up great deals to simply just staying away from most purchases.
I choose to see my frugality as a tool for happiness. An enjoyable challenge to live well, be generous and fully participate in life while still holding tight to our hard earned dollars. I find joy in scoring a lovely $1 West Elm vase, which I can fill with home grown flowers for a friend, serving a 91¢ roasted chicken (yesterday’s Fred Meyer anniversary sale deal) and creating a lovely home based on freebies and rearranging what I already own.
The hours I’m able to work waxes and wanes, which means that I’ve recently gone months without a decent paycheck. And as easy as it would be to panic and hyperventilate, instead I simply hang my laundry, borrow from the library and cook my simple meals.
Frugality gives me freedom from most financial worries, and even though it would sure be fun to book a week in Hawaii for the family, I find my contentness right here. In the folds of my frugality.
Have you found that frugality and happiness go hand in hand? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”