Help a Reader Out — How to Handle Envy?

by Katy on April 19, 2016 · 61 comments

I received this question in my inbox this morning and decided I would try and answer the reader’s question, but also to open it up to all of you.

Hi Katy,

I’m a big fan of your page and visit it daily. You give me a much needed dose of encouragement to keep on working towards my financial goals, with a little laugh here and there too. I was hoping you could offer some words of advice.

I have two friends who have recently come into a lot of money and I can’t help but feel jealous about it. I hate to admit that I am envious, but it makes me feel a little less satisfied with my frugal lifestyle. Any tips to help me get more excited about pinching pennies?




First of all, thank you so much for the kind words, and I’m happy to hear that you’re finding encouragement in the blog.

Let me try and address your question. It can be hard when you see others experiencing a higher standard of living that allows for luxuries that you’re unable to indulge. This might mean travel, restaurant meals or even consumer goods. (The actual cause of the envy is unimportant.)

But this is really an issue of contentedness. When a person is content with their life, then envy doesn’t seep in as deeply. But in order for someone to feel content with their frugality, it needs to be a choice. An example would be living on less because of a spouse’s unexpected layoff versus living on less due to taking a meaningful but low paying job. On paper they’re the same, but in reality they’re completely different. Take a look at what’s making you discontent with your life, and see if you can make some changes. Perhaps allow for some small treats that fit within your budget.

I would suggest that Teresa make a conscious choice to include some like minded and similar situation people in her life. This could be in real life, or even on the internet. The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group has over 12,000 members, and is an amazing space for non-consumer ideas, inspiration and encouragement.  It’s not uncommon for group members to remark that the group helps them feel like they’re not alone in an otherwise consumer driven culture.

I can’t think of anyone’s life that fills me with envy because I’m very content with the one I’ve chosen for myself. However, I sometimes get envious of other people’s successful blogs as I’ve been blogging since May of 2008, (a millennium in the blogosphere) yet have yet to see the huge reader numbers that many other frugality blogs enjoy. It’s not something I think about on a daily basis, but it does bum me out now and then. On the other hand, The Non-Consumer Advocate is a lot more successful than the average blog, so I put my focus there. I get regular feedback from readers saying the blog has changed their lives, so this pulls me away from any self pity.

Now your turn. What advice do you have for Teresa? Have you been in a similar situation, and if so what helped? Maybe you’re even in a similar situation right now? Either way, please share your ideas and support in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Twitter.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Instagram.
Click HERE to join The Non-Consumer Advocate Facebook group.
Click HERE to follow The Non-Consumer Advocate on Pinterest.

{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

LisaC April 20, 2016 at 1:17 am

A few years back, I heard the phrase “comparison is the thief of joy”. I’ve held on to that idea, and it has helped. We don’t know all of the ins and outs of others’ lives, we don’t know their debt level, their level of insecurity or hurt, we only know what they choose to show us. There’s always someone richer, taller, cuter, smarter, but we do all fall on a spectrum. If we compare ourselves, we won’t be content. If we choose joy and contentment, and set our own personal goals, we only compare ourselves to ourselves.


Marilyn April 20, 2016 at 6:19 am

Yes, comparison is the thief of joy. Or as we were all told in kindergarten “keep your eyes on your own paper.” I love this little phrase and I remind myself of it from time to time. It always helps.


Emily S April 20, 2016 at 6:30 am

I love that! “Keep your eyes on your own paper”. I live in an older neighborhood (1930-1950’s homes) and everyone is renovating. Except for us.
Looks like I’ll just have to keep reminding myself about my financial goals.
Thank you!


ann a April 20, 2016 at 3:46 pm

Kristen at The Frugal Girl has written about Contentment a LOT.


Monique April 20, 2016 at 1:48 am

My mom once told me that she spent many years being jealous of other people`s perfect homes until she realized that it wasn’t their designer furniture or up to date kitchen she actually wanted. She wanted a space that was uncluttered where she could see all her own lovely things, rather than always having them covered in stuff. When I went to University she did a major declutter, painted all the walls in a nice neutral beige, got rid of all the knick knacks on the walls (her name was Aloha…she had many items that people had brought her over the year!). She ended up with a bright space with much less art (just carefully chosen), fewer dust collectors, and she was thrilled. That’s where I am right now in my life.
When my kids were growing up I found it hard to get there, but I just kept telling myself to hang on. I could have done it back then, but I was focused on homeschooling them. Now my focus is on me and my space and I am trying to follow my mother’s example.
Don’t envy what others have, use it as inspiration to create your own wonderful life!!
Good luck!


Jan April 20, 2016 at 3:00 am

Two things: My mum used to tell me “Comparisons are odious.” I’m not sure where she got that, but it stuck with me.
Also, when I was growing up, Max Ehrmann’s “Desiderata” was popular, and I’ve always remembered these lines:
“If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. ”
So, there you have it. Enjoy what you have, and kudos to you for working so hard. It’s all worth it.


jennifer April 20, 2016 at 7:10 am

There will always be people with greater and lesser than you, enjoy achievements as well as your plans. It is said so simply yet so hard for most to let sink in. Well said, Jan.


lulutoo April 21, 2016 at 2:53 pm

‘Comparisons are odious’ is a great saying–it is actually from Dr. Abraham Low, who started something called “Recovery International” He has lots of other great sayings too on the website for the group. I myself (I think) once thought ‘To compare is to despair’ and I like that, too.


K D April 20, 2016 at 3:32 am

I’m sorry you feel this way. Life is not fair.

This may sound “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah” but it is not uncommon for people that come into money to be broke within a short period of time. Sometimes they find themselves in worse financial shape. It’s easy to get use to a certain way of living and hard to pull back when the money is gone.

We take pride in accomplishing financial success ourselves. Definitely keep reading The Non-consumer Advocate. If you’re not also reading The Frugal Girl and The Simple Dollar you might add those blogs as well. They keep me grounded when I feel like I am surrounded by “spenders”. I think frugal people are less noticeable than others (just like well behaved children are less noticed than trouble makers).

If you have not read The Millionaire Next Door, or the more recent Stop Spending Money and Live Like a Real Millionaire, I recommend you do.

We are happy with our low-spend lives. We have everything we need and have some of what we want. We have the security of enough. If we were to come into money we wouldn’t change anything, except to find a way to give some of it away anonymously. We wouldn’t even tell anyone.


Mand01 April 20, 2016 at 4:30 am

Hi Teresa,
Envy is a challenge I’ve had to deal with in my life. Our beautiful daughter was born with autism. Financially this has caused us set backs, and emotionally we’ve felt both sadness and a kind of envy as we’ve watched friends’ and relative’s kids progress and move through their milestones at the proper times. We see friends head off to Europe or build beautiful extensions to their homes. I have come to realise that firstly, acknowledging the feeling of envy is ok. It’s not a sin to feel that way, but it is unhelpful to wallow in it. Acknowledge you are feeling it, and move on.
Secondly, I have realised that my life and financial situation is the result partly of decisions and choices I have made, and partly of luck. I can’t change it, and all I can do is continue to make choices based on how my life is now. We just have to keep moving forward and making this life as good as it can be for our family, and not worry about anyone else’s. I would like to see Europe someday though!


Chrissy April 20, 2016 at 6:08 am

We also have a child with autism and I can attest to how it has impacted us financially. We want to give him the opportunities and help he needs and that means that most of our disposable income has gone to him for years and years. Thankfully we can see the positive impact but we also know this is a permanent circumstance. He will always need our financial help on some level and our help with his lifestyle in other ways. It can be difficult to know and see how much…simpler, I guess…things are for our friends. We do our best to remind each other of all the ways we are so blessed and lucky and so make the money we have do the most it can. Europe isn’t happening for us any time soon, either!!! LOL


Mand01 April 21, 2016 at 12:59 am

Even if we could afford it, what would we do with her for the time we were away? All of these things play into it. As you say, the financial impact will keep going – people don’t realise how large a financial impact it has had and will continue to have.
We do the same as you, we think about how lucky we are. We are very lucky. We have a wonderful tribe who support us all and who adore our girl. We are not rich but we are also not poor. I know how to spend and save wisely.
One day I will see London Tower, and it will be wonderful. I will probably be 102, taking my 77 year old daughter with me. She will flap her hands and wish she was at home, but we will get there, haha.


Susan April 20, 2016 at 8:02 pm

I have to giggle a little at “It’s not a sin to feel that way…”
The Ten Commandments: Number 10 – Thou shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor. Exodus 20:17


Mand01 April 21, 2016 at 12:55 am

I was raised a Catholic (now an atheist – so I guess it didn’t take!), so I know what the commandments are. I just don’t happen to believe that having a twinge of envy is sinful – and it is also not the same as coveting. Envy is a human emotion. Spending your time wallowing in it is not healthy though, as I said…


Tina S. April 22, 2016 at 8:02 am

Well said!


Diane April 20, 2016 at 4:43 am

Hi! I am 72 and have basically lived frugally most of my life as a single mom raising 2 generations of children. That said, in 2005 I was teaching, had a new rental furnished with many pieces I loved passed down to me from my family and life was good. I also traveled, using my credit card, unfortunately . When a natural disaster struck in August of 2005 I was forced to begin all over again. Suddenly I had nothing! In a new state and new apartment I was able to pull together furnishings from donations. And there I was for quite a few years. Gradually, I replaced many of the donations with thrifted finds that fit my personality as well as a few new pieces. Today almost 11 years later I have a cozy welcoming home again.

I don’t travel any more or have money to spend an anything beyond basics….still paying off all those trips from yesteryear and I do occasionally have bouts of envy seeing what my friends and family can do in retirement. But, my home brings me so much comfort that I am usually content with what I have.


tonya parham April 20, 2016 at 4:57 am

I started a year ago meditating every day and for the last month or so, when I get done, I write down something I am grateful for. It’s such a simple little thing but I think it’s made a big difference.

Also, keep in mind, you never know what those people are dealing with in their own lives. Sure, they got some extra money, but maybe they have to deal with some past abuse or eating disorder. Perhaps they have self esteem issues or never felt loved by a parent or a spouse cheated on them. We just have no idea what occurs in other’s lives and when we envy them, we do a disservice to them and to ourselves as well. Wish them happiness and know that perhaps that money is all that currently brings them any relief or happiness. Then seek your own path– one of contentment that doesn’t include that sum of money.


Bee April 20, 2016 at 5:52 am

Beautifully put, Tonya! In love and kindness lies the answer.


ReadYouIWill April 20, 2016 at 5:06 am

I agree with Mand01. Occasional envy is somewhat normal. Wishing you had what someone else got, esp if they didn’t appear to earn it, is pretty human. Where you go from there is what counts. Wallowing, treating people differently, talking badly of them – that’s toxic envy. Acknowledging it but moving on, and even telling yourself there’s probably things others envy you for that you don’t even know about – that’s healthy. I liken it to the old adage along the lines of “everyone has the passing thought ‘I could kill them’ and that doesn’t make you a bad person; acting on that thought is another thing entirely”.


Debbie N April 20, 2016 at 5:24 am

I find the best way to feel content is to focus on the things going on in my life that I am happy with, not the things I not. For example I am now sitting on a old ugly hand me down couch. I could be mad that I can’t afford to go buy a new couch but instead I am happy it’s super comfortable and that I am home with my kids.


Bee April 20, 2016 at 5:46 am

It is difficult in a consumerist society to be frugal. However, I believe that the secret to happiness is to want what you have. I do a few things personally that may be helpful to others.
1) When I feel envy or want, I try to replace any negative feelings with simple gratitude for all that I have. When this is especially difficult, I write in a gratitude and limit social media.

2) I have set financial goals and allow myself to dream. Having these goals makes it easier live frugally. I write them down in a journal and periodically look at them. Some of these goals are little and some are big. You could also post them on the refrigerator, in your office, or on a sticky note in your car.

3) I remember that frugality is about the greater good. It does benefit me, but I am also not contributing to the wastefulness that is running rampant in our society.

4) I don’t have a lot of thrifty friends, but I try and find encouragement in blogs such as this and books. I now know I am not alone in the world.

5) I allow myself to experience the joy that comes with resourcefulness — of making something from nothing. I am proud when my husband says that my dinner made up of leftovers is delicious. I smile when a receive a compliment on my thrifted clothing. I enjoy my home that is furnished with secondhand and found items.


Elizabeth April 20, 2016 at 5:47 am

I can understand initial jealousy when someone else has a windfall, but I agree with what Katy says, contentment comes from within. One thing I do each morning is write down a few the things I’m grateful for. And there’s lots to be grateful for when you look for it. Just try to not look at what you don’t have, but at the things you’ve been blessed with, instead.

And for the things I don’t have that I’m working toward acquiring, I know that when I receive them (from pinching pennies and saving), I’m going to appreciate them a whole lot more than if those things had just been handed to me with no effort involved.

Imagine a world where we had everything we ever wanted, we’d have nothing to work toward. Life would be pretty boring.

I completely understand where you’re coming from. But over the years I’ve learned that appreciating what you have or don’t have, compared to others, is all in your perspective.


Carla April 20, 2016 at 6:16 am

Related but not the same: Because of our current circumstances my kids are going to a school where there are lots of rich kids, and we are not, and they come home very ‘wanty’ and with ideas of what we should buy them. I found they were becoming very annoying and ungrateful when we have so much! a good home, food on the table, plenty of clothes, enough shoes and a loving family. So theirs are not new clothes or the latest brand name stuff (sometimes I do manage in second hand shopping but not always!), but they are stylish. So we instituted grace at the table. We are believers, but our grace is very open ended, so at dinner time we all say something we are grateful for, and if one has nothing that day they can pass. I have found that after a few months of doing this there has been less ‘wantiness’ and people are more pleasant.
For myself, I found that I was also wallowing in the negatives and not realising how wonderful my life is, I was getting weighted down by the heaviness of my job, the annoying arguments with my husband, the kids!. So I started a gratefulness journal, in which I just write one line (one line is easy!) about something I am grateful for that day. I admit I haven’t done it every single day, but I have found that it helps. Recognising what I have goes a long way in decreasing my envy and discontent.


Tracy April 20, 2016 at 6:34 am

I like the idea of a more casual “grace”. Thanks for sharing.


Robin April 20, 2016 at 10:13 am

We aren’t religious people but at dinner time everyone has to tell what their Highlight-of-the-day was. I think it’s good for children (and adults) to find bits of joy in the everyday.


ann a April 20, 2016 at 3:44 pm

The Frugal Girl had a great post related to what you experienced with your children: “”. I think your solution was great! Maybe Kristen’s article will also be helpful to other readers.


Carla April 21, 2016 at 7:39 am

Glad you like the grace idea. Sometimes kids will say they are grateful it is spaghetti night, or they are grateful that they got candy, and hey that is what matters in their little lives that’s ok. But they do get the big picture I see, because sometimes they’ll say things like my 4 year old “I’m grateful because I have a brother and sister and I love my mommy and daddy”. And that makes the changes worth it, because I see they are noticing. 🙂


jennifer April 20, 2016 at 7:27 am

I don’t really have anything to add other than how much I thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone’s responses to this question. I learn so much from you all and I plan to take some of these ideas home to teach to my children. So thank you Katy and for each and every one of your insightful comments!


Sheila April 20, 2016 at 7:51 am

This is obviously a very complicated issue and it’s hard to change those feelings of envy. I agree with all the replies, but would like to mention one thing I didn’t see anyone write yet and that is the value of volunteering. Our family has been involved in volunteering for many different organizations over the years and I have found that this has instilled in all of us a feeling of being grateful for what we have and also helped us focus on being of service to others. We are not religious at all, but I feel that my kids who are all young adults have their priorities straight.


Monica April 21, 2016 at 5:59 am

I heartily agree that volunteering with our children along is the best way for them to see how other people live, what other people’s needs are, how others might be different from us, etc. Puts things in perspective real-time. I plan to have my daughter volunteer with me now that she is approaching an age where she will understand and it will resonate with her. Its starts as simply as bring canned foods to church with us on Sunday for the food bank, and someday I hope it will be volunteering at the soup kitchen…


Evamarie April 20, 2016 at 8:49 am

I recently read the book My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody. In it the author recounts how at one point in her life she was challenged to make a list every day of five things that made her happy. These things had to be specific to the day, so “I ate strawberries for breakfast” counts, but “I have a nice house” doesn’t. This made a huge impact on her mental health and actually improved her physical health as well. This is basically just an exercise in opening your eyes to all the blessings you have without comparing with others who seem to have a better or worse life than you do.


Karen April 20, 2016 at 2:24 pm

Thanks Evamarie! I’m going to try this today!


Elizabeth April 20, 2016 at 2:33 pm

I also love how the things you’re grateful for must be “specific to the day” and I’m going to start following that. Thanks!


Lesley April 20, 2016 at 9:17 am

I read a great article last year about envy at work, and I think this might help. A lot of times, if you’re not getting promoted, it can seem like everybody else is! They get all the pats on the back and everything and you’re just like, hey! I’m awesome too; what about me?

The article said that if you chose a job that fits you, it’s OK to be there and do it and not worry about getting promoted until your skills and everything have outgrown the job you have and it’s time to move forward.

I think that works for life, too. If your life fits the you of right now, then why worry about “promotion” to the next you? I think a lot of folks worry about milestones–“I’m this age and I should already have passed X milestone! What’s wrong with me?” But that won’t happen to people who choose their own criteria for what a “milestone” is.


Cynthia Ferguson April 20, 2016 at 9:44 am

When our mother died each of the four of us received $36,000.00.
I used my share to buy my siblings interest in the house.
My sister paid off her house.
One brother re-roofed his house and fixed it up. Then his wife wanted to live in a much more expensive house, so even though the hadn’t paid down any of their credit card debt, they sold their house, bought a fancier house and new furniture. They couldn’t afford this, it broke up their family. My brother lives in a small affordable condo. His ex-wife lives in a smsll house where only one of her three children can live. Fortunately my brother squeezes the other two kids in his place and frequently has all three boys and the cat and 3 dogs that keep mysteriously appearing at his place.
My other brother used his money on drugs, he lost his house, he lost his daughter and he lost his job.
20 years later he works a very low paying job. His daughter rarely speaks to him. Thhe veterans pay most if his rent. He still fights with drugs and alcohol.
He list everything in less than a year. Money isn’t always the answer.


Nancy Thorburn April 20, 2016 at 9:59 am

Thank you for sharing this, Cynthia.


Karen April 21, 2016 at 1:11 pm

This made the point about money very well.


Ruby April 20, 2016 at 12:45 pm

Early in frugal living back in the early ’90s, I read a newspaper article about a couple who had vastly simplified their lives so that they could give most of what they earned to alleviate poverty in their small community. Their inspiration was the first part of the Bible verse Hebrews 13:5: “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have.” That has really stuck with me and serves as a guide if the line between a need and a want ever gets fuzzy.


Marieann April 20, 2016 at 1:20 pm

I have been thrifty all my life (I’m 66). At the start it was because we were starting out and had no money, then it became a habit.
Now I come at it from a different perspective as I see the destruction of the planet for personal gain…shop,buy, repeat, cover our earth in garbage and destroy the future for our children, for what…one more bauble or geegaw.
No thanks….I buy with intention,only what I need and then buy used whenever possible.
I don’t envy the folk with the big house or an overabundance of possessions, I feel sorry for them, and angry with them….and very sad!


Marion April 20, 2016 at 1:35 pm

I find it helpful to remember that although I live below the “poverty line” I still have a standard of living that most of the rest of the world can only dream about.


Kathie April 20, 2016 at 1:58 pm

I once heard that standard of living does not equal quality of life. I have never forgotten this. And I’ve witnessed it’s truth many, many times.


Karen April 20, 2016 at 2:23 pm

I sense that every response has been made thoughtfully and with truth. I went back and read everything again, including Katy’s answer, and find that I agree with everything! Thank you everyone!


Janet April 20, 2016 at 2:41 pm

When I am feeling low about not being able to buy something that “everyone else” has, I listen to a few Dave Ramsey podcasts! Some of the callers are in so much financial pain, it helps me appreciate my own situation. You don’t often get insights into people’s private lives like that…your neighbors probably aren’t going to share this with you. But on the radio show…they share it all. And it is eye-opening, and makes me feel like my problems are small, and my sacrifices are saving me from being in their shoes. I am actually quite grateful to those people for sharing their stories. The podcasts are very motivating!


Thel B April 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm

Reading this and all the comments was very enlightening. For the most part, I cannot relate because I know of very few people in my life who have suddenly acquired wealth. I can’t say that I can relate to wealth envy except for when I was a small child, and I don’t think that counts, because it was my parents poverty issue, even though it had an impact on how I was treated at school. Although that truly did plant a seed of how people who thought they were rich treated people who weren’t.
I searched myself to see whether I have experienced true “envy”, and where I can relate was when hubby and I were trying desperately to have a child. Fertility clinics, testing, four years of agonizing over the never having that experience. In the meantime, I had a niece who was in and out of relationships and would get pregnant at the drop of the pants. I mean seriously, she had six babies by four different fathers. She lost every one of them to CPS for failure to take care of them. The green-eyed monster reared it’s ugly head a lot in those days. Almost every time I saw a very young, very pregnant girl I would just hate her. Most of the time I didn’t know the gal or the story behind her life, but every baby I saw was just another reminder that I couldn’t be a mom.
In therapy years later, I shared with my therapist that I don’t know why I felt SO envious at the time, but that it was palpable envy. My therapist told me that what I was sharing and admitting to was the beginning of my healing and not having to feel like that anymore. I think that Teresa’s admitting that she is feeling deep envy is the beginning of recognizing what it is, and letting it go.
I am wondering if it is possible for Teresa to do any volunteer work in very poor communities, or with the homeless, somehow? A friend of mine went with a church group once on a mission trip in India, and she said that when she saw how the average family lived, it really changed her view of “wealth”. She determined never to complain or compare again.
As to my story… a sister had a daughter that was at risk of being taken away by the court system in her state. She asked me if we’d be able to take guardianship of her for a school year. We did. I was still taking fertility drugs at that time. She’d been living at our house for about a month, when, yes I got pregnant. Everything wasn’t perfect. When he was in second grade he was diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, but I wouldn’t trade him for half a dozen “normal”. And the troubled niece who lived with us. She went on to get her Masters in Psychology and works with troubled kids within a school system. She told me once that she knew that living with us turned her life around, though she would not have admitted it at the time.
Many things happen for a reason. Hopefully there’s a good one for this.


Rosanne April 21, 2016 at 8:51 am

Thank you for sharing your story. I also believe things happen for a reason.


Lulu April 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm

A friend of mine has lots of fancy clothes and jewelry. She is now overwhelmed with what to do with all her belongings. Keeping one’s possessions to a minimum from the get-go, no matter how much money you have, is a blessing. Sometimes envy can be combatted with a deep appreciation of the little things in life. I hope you will stay friends with these ladies and encourage them to do things with you like hiking or just savoring being together and not necessarily doing things that require a lot of money or buying stuff.


AnnW April 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm

I remember the nuns saying “Comparisons are odious.” Don’t worry about anyone else, because everyone, I mean everyone has a secret pain. You just don’t know about it. Some people who seem to have everything have lost a child, or grew up in an orphanage, or have been molested. Some people are so dyslexic that they can barely read and are petrified of being found out. Money just buys stuff. Stuff is stuff. It doesn’t mean anything. If you want more stuff, get an extra job, or figure out a way to bring more money into the household. Read all the great money saving blogs like Mr.Money Mustache. Most people piss money away, so it doesn’t matter how much they have, they’ll never be happy. A Coach bag holds your junk just as well as a Target handbag. Be grateful for what you Do Have. Hot water, clean water, a nice bed, a house with doors that lock. Gratitude for what you have will make you happier, and perhaps blessings will come to you.


Jo April 20, 2016 at 5:40 pm

I concur with many comments that have come before- thanks, all. I’d like to add that finding a like-minded faith community (Quaker, for me) has helped with living a simpler life than is understood by the mainstream. It’s good to find a tribe to hold you up.


cathy April 20, 2016 at 9:56 pm

I’ve really enjoyed reading all the comments, and think that for the most part Katy was spot on when she said it was really about contentedness. However…I re-read what the original poster asked, and sometimes all you really want are ideas to keep you inspired and motivated in your frugality. I find that some of my greatest inspiration comes from other people’s stories. So, I’d suggest reading good blogs about frugality. People have mentioned The Frugal Girl and Mr. Money Mustache. I also like The Prudent Homemaker. My life is very different from hers, but boy does she have great ideas for saving money. If you read other blogs, they’ll lead to even more; often the comments are as inspiring as the blog posts. I also enjoy reading books about frugality. Though much of it is dated, I still re-read The Tightwad Gazette. One of my favorite parts is the reader success stories.There are also library books (and blogs) on pretty much any subject and the frugal way to do it. (I’m kind of partial to interior design with flea market finds.) I’m also one of those people who gets a bit of a thrill when I try and succeed at something frugal. For me, it ranges from doing all my own gardening and landscaping, to finding the perfect purse at the thrift store ($2!) to making a meal out of seemingly nothing but odds and ends.

I like to challenge myself to find new ways to save money on things we’re already paying for such as being more conscientious about power usage to lower the gas and electric bills, finding a pharmacy to fill a prescription for less, shopping for less expensive auto insurance, refinancing the mortgage, or canceling a subscription to something. Some of these things are basically one-time (refi), but others can be done over and over.

I also have a category I call “Found Money.” This includes money earned from selling items on Craigslist or yard sale, selling used books to the second-hand bookstore, rebates, and promotional deals. (The best one lately is our credit union which is paying $5 per “A”, up to $40, to students. My son had the $40 plus $10 from yet another promotion deposited into his account a couple weeks ago.) I also like to set a goal of something to save for, where I challenge myself to earn the entire amount from “Found Money” rather than pulling it from another source.


Marie-Josée April 21, 2016 at 4:02 am

I too really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. I concur with Thel B. We are uncomfortable with uncomfortable emotions such as grief, envy, bereavement, but they are all part of the spectrum of emotions we experience and they need to be acknowledged, just like happiness, joy or contentment. I would recommend that Teresa just stay with her uncomfortable feelings of envy – really experience those feelings, until they pass. I am not suggesting Teresa wallows in those feelings, or that she tries to induce them, just that she fully experiences and stays with her feelings as they emerge. Eventually, her envy will fade and Teresa will have honoured her own feelings and been truly authentic. Research has emerged confirming that enduring happiness comes from a life which is lived aligned with ones personal values. Thanks for sharing everyone!


Dayna April 21, 2016 at 5:47 am

I have a best friend that has many things in her life that I have been working towards. 99.9% of the time there is no envy. I’m really, really happy for her. I know she is happy for me when good things happen to me.

She was telling me about a trip a couple she knows is taking a trip to Europe and said that it was a trip she and her husband wanted to take before they had kids (they have kids now). I empathized with her, and in doing so I realized that she had taken two trips (a train trip to Chicago and Puerto Rico) that I was bit envious (at the time) about. I had wanted to do those trips before she went on them, I think she may have gotten the idea from me. I don’t care because she had a great time and now I can get some travel tips from her. Those two trips are much more inexpensive than Europe but more than is possible for my family right now.

Also she had to really get creative to find childcare for Chicago trip. My husband take cheaper trips together but we are super lucky to have lots of help with our kids. It was one of the reasons that I was so happy for her. It was a real treat to get away without the kids.

There was no bitterness between us (she is a really good friend) but it was a good realization. What we have maybe what someone else really wants. Also when we see some one that has what we want they could be wanting something else. It’s can be never ending if we let it.


Dayna April 21, 2016 at 6:04 am

I like what Gretchen Rubin has to say about envy. You can google it to find out more, she has a video on her blog. To sum it up it can be an indicator about what you can change in your own life. Paying attention to what makes you feel envious can help you know yourself. Maybe there is something that her friends are doing with their money is something that she really would like to do. Maybe she can do something similar but in a smaller (cheaper) way. Or make those things a goal. Maybe it is just that they don’t have to be as careful with their money. Is there is something she can do to take the pressure off? There might not be, or maybe there is. Or maybe in looking at what your options are you feel better about the choices you have made.


Roberta April 21, 2016 at 6:20 am

I recently read _Seven: a mutiny against excess_ and loved it. In it, the author writes that if you make more than $25,000 a year you are among the top 4% of the richest people in the world; if you make more than $50,000 you are among the top 1%. She also writes that you should compare DOWN instead of comparing UP. After reading this, my husband and I have been getting rid of a LOT of things that we’ve been saving just in case. It just opened our eyes to how much we Do have. Our siblings (both sides) live high, but we’re (usually) content with our simpler lifestyle; books like this remind us how well off we really are.

I highly recommend the book, BTW. Funny and religious, but her faith is a part of who she is, not something she puts on for show.


Vickie April 21, 2016 at 7:24 am

I love Jen Hatmaker, she’s hilarious. I read her book Interrupted, it was a great read.
Thanks for the book suggestion – I just put 7 on hold at the library!


JD April 21, 2016 at 6:28 am

I well remember the days of scraping to get by, while a relative of my husband’s, with children the exact same ages as ours, blithely bought new expensive cars and built a fine home. I watched the wife shop, as we both would be in the store at the same time sometimes: I counted carefully on my calculator and had to put some things back; she casually threw items in the cart without one glance at the price. They still have a lot of money, aren’t deep in debt, their kids are successful and close to their parents, and they can afford to retire while I have to work on. I felt a LOT of envy back then, so I know where the letter writer is coming from. Somehow, at some point, I got over it. It took much prayer and some deep thinking, but I came to realize envy got me nowhere and made me an unpleasant person. One way that helped me to get over it was to become generous, with my time and what resources I could spare. My husband taught me that. For Lent this year, I made my discipline be at least one specific act of kindness a day. It did so much to take the focus off of me and onto others! The comments here have been beautiful, by the way.


Vickie April 21, 2016 at 7:15 am

Well put!!
Contentment makes me a much happier person.


Hobart Chic April 21, 2016 at 6:29 am

Perhaps it’s time to find frugal treats. It can get tedious beyond belief to focus on being ever responsible. Allowing myself to have a treat or two, I can afford, help keep me on track and happy. Just going for a walk in sunshine and a cup of coffee or tea can be all I need to keep myself sane.


Vickie April 21, 2016 at 7:12 am

I don’t know that I get jealous, perhaps envious is a better word, when it comes to having a nicer/newer car.
To me jealous means you feel like you deserve something more than the person receiving it. Envious, just means you wish you could afford something similar to what someone else has.
I’m envious, at times, when I see someone with a nice RAV4 or Honda Pilot – I aspire to have one someday. My old Corolla has over 300k miles on it and I would love to afford a newer car, but it’s just not in the cards right now.

It’s easy, for me, not to feel jealous when I realize many people have huge credit card bills or loans to afford the luxuries or consumer items they have.
I’ve conditioned myself to think about debt as slavery – which it is – you are basically an indentured servant to the bank/credit card company, when you owe money on something.
If I look at those consumer items, cars, big houses etc. (debt) as being chained to me and making me a slave to whoever I would owe for them, it makes it very easy for me to be content with what I have.


Chessie April 21, 2016 at 8:21 am

Theresa, I am trying to start my own business and I am broke AF so I definitely get you. Think about the people whose wealth makes the new affluence of your friends seem puny — do you think your two friends torment themselves over this? Or do they just enjoy what they have?

In turn, even those (like me) struggling and in debt in this rich country have a lot that most human beings would be envious of.

You have to find your own sweet spot by tailoring your expenditures to your means, and that applies whether your income is $0 or $100,000.


Chessie April 21, 2016 at 8:22 am

Oops, Teresa, sorry I goofed up your name. 🙁


Nancy April 21, 2016 at 12:54 pm

The first comment I have is for Katy. You are my favorite blog in the whole wide world. I read lots of frugalish, crafting, cooking, & parenting blogs. Yours is the one I always come away with feeling like I’m not alone here in consumer-worshipping NJ. Especially when the lear jets are coming into or leaving from Teterboro Airport.
As for a comment for Teresa I would say that one of the sayings I heard a long time ago was to not compare my insides to someone else’s outsides. That grass usually isn’t as green as it looks.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: