When my husband and I entered into our first careers three years ago we met a lot of people who were at the same phase of life as us: Newly married, young professionals paying off student loans and renting their homes. By living off of 37% of our income we quickly paid off our $30,000 debt from student loans within 9 months of starting those payments. We valued our simple lifestyle and continued to live off of a small percentage of our income so we could give more, save more, and invest more. While I would say we are making a wise choice by living frugally, I think we sometimes come off as being broke to those around us.
Example 1: We had an entertainment budget of $50 per month while we were paying off debt. When the end of the month rolled around and we were nearing the $50 mark we would just order waters so we could still join friends for an impromptu get together downtown. It wasn’t that we couldn’t afford to get a drink or split an appetizer; we just had a goal on the horizon we were motivated to reach. However, on multiple occasions friends would buy a drink for us or share their appetizer. It could be my pride, but at times I internally interpreted these kind gestures as a response of pity.
Example 2: Recently I went to a local craft show with two friends and didn’t buy tickets because I honestly didn’t need anything and just wanted to look around. One of the friends I went with bought a Christmas cookie for each of us and the other friend insisted I use one of her tickets to enter a cake walk since my two friends were doing it. I didn’t pay a dime that day but wound up with a free cookie, a free dessert from the cake walk, and part of my friend’s lunch. These are all such small things to fret over but this happens a LOT and makes me feel like a mooch! I am content with the experience and don’t care to spend money yet I wind up with freebies while my friends pay.
Maybe you can answer this question for me: If you live a frugal lifestyle, how do you do it without appearing like money is tight? Is there a right way to live frugally without sending the wrong message? No one sees what we deposit into our Roth IRA or tithe or put toward our mortgage principal but they do see us saving a few dollars here and there:
I don’t see the need to buy new so we are content with getting things from Craigslist or waiting for a great sale before making a purchase. We share a car because we’re in a position to do so and just don’t need a second car. If I can find a free parking spot downtown I’m fine walking a couple extra blocks rather than paying for the parking garage. We could buy a Halloween costume we’d wear once but why not make our own Fred & Wilma costume for less? Sure I’d love to see the latest movie but I’d rather rent a $1 RedBox DVD and use the $20 I would have paid for tickets toward a future outing. Why bother paying $3 for a coffee at Starbucks when I have plenty of coffee and tea we can enjoy on a comfy couch in my home? I don’t do these things because we need to save money; I do them because they take little effort and why not? However, some who see all of these actions may gather that they are done out of necessity.
We’re not about to become hermits and stay home or skip events because we hit our spending limit. We’ve been improving our creativity and thinking of ways to avoid the cost of going out every time: Movie nights, game nights, free local events, progressive dinners (appetizers at one couple’s home, dinner at another, dessert at another), and good ol’ ugly sweater parties with the winter season in full swing. I’m not sure if we’ll ever avoid the occasional freebies (pity-inspired or not) but I am curious to learn how other frugal folks do it.
If you live a frugal lifestyle, how do you do it without sending the wrong message?
My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.