Frugal Living · Frugal Motivation · Uncategorized

You Only Have To Be Yourself

Sometimes people, myself definitely included, compare themselves to others to their own detriment.  For me, this is particularly true when it comes to living frugally.  I love to read other people’s blogs and learn about the ways they approach being frugal, but it’s hard not to feel like I’m “not doing it right”.

rightway
(Photo courtesy of)

There are two sides to this coin.  The one side is feeling like I’m not behaving frugally enough.  Our grocery budget is $100/wk, but someone else’s might only be $80/wk.  I find myself thinking I’m not trying hard enough.  That if I bought less processed food, made more things myself, shopped more carefully with coupons, etc… I would have a lower grocery budget.

The fact of the matter is that grocery budgets depend on a lot of things, not just picking an arbitrary number to stick to.  There are things to consider, like dietary needs or restrictions, personal likes and dislikes, and also the variance of grocery costs in different areas.  For example, I have an Aldi to shop at to keep my grocery costs low.  If I didn’t, I would need a higher budget.  That may be the case for someone.

What_Do_I_Want
(Image courtesy of)

Main bottom line for me, though, is whether I  *WANT* to be like someone else?  So another couple lives on $80/wk groceries. Is it worth it to me to restrict myself so much?  Do I NEED to restrict myself that much?  There’s a big difference between budgeting for groceries to control your expenses, vs budgeting for groceries so you can still pay your bills without running out of food.  There is no one answer to any of these questions.  It depends on each person or familiy’s unique situation.

I actually worried around with this issue for some time.  The conclusion I finally drew is that we are not going to eat the absolute cheapest food we can eat, all the time.  Hubs loves frozen burritos and Hot Pockets, and has them most mornings after he comes home from work.  I have attempted… and failed… to make homemade burritos cheaper.  And I’m not even going to attempt Hot Pockets.  Also, I buy diet soda.  It’s store brand, so I do it as cheaply as possible, but I’m not giving it up.  I limit the amount I drink, and enjoy what I do drink.  Choices like this are what push our budget up over bare bones living amounts, but it’s choices we are making consciously.  Mindless spending is the enemy of frugal living.

Another one I have issues with is feeling bad for spending more money on a particular category {other than food} than someone else does.  This gets right to the heart of frugal living, though.  If you are not literally scraping by with nary a penny to spare, then the goal of frugal living is not to never spend anything, but rather to spend on things that mean something to you.  And obviously that’s going to look different from person to person.  For example, having a craft supplies to make things, and a camera to take photos of them, is more important to me than wearing designer clothes.  I’m happy to have a dependable-but-non-glamorous car, and spend that money on the gas to drive it to parks.  Everyone has different priorities, and the idea of frugality is figuring out what your priorities are and how to spend your money to reflect them, rather than simply hoarding every penny you can get your hands on.  {Again, as long as you are not in a life and death sort of financial situation.}

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(Image courtesy of Sensiblemoney.com)

And on the other side of the coin… I find myself feeling inadequate and poor compared to things other people accomplish with their savings.  People pay cash for cars, make double payments on mortgages, max out IRA contributions, save hundreds of dollar a month… I could go on and on.  While I find myself in awe of their financial self control and good planning, I also feel frustrated that I can’t do the same things.

This is yet another case of each person/family being different.  In my humble opinion, the break down on this is simply how much money you have left after you pay your basic living expenses.  If you’re barely paying rent and having enough food to eat, you can’t be expected {nor should you expect yourself!} to save a big chunk of change each month.  You can only do what you can with what you have.

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Of course, saying this does not make it any easier to avoid the jealousy caused by looking over someone else’s fence.  Sometimes the grass really is greener.  By some standards anyway.  There are always going to be people that can save more than you, pay off debt faster than you {or have none to begin with!}, and so on.  Just remind yourself you don’t see everything going on on the other side of the fence and things might not look nearly so lush if you knew the entire truth.

The point of all this rambling is that your frugal journey is yours alone.  No one lives in the exact same situation as anyone else, and playing the comparison game isn’t going to improve your life.  Granted you may get ideas from other people, or motivation from other people’s stories… but comparing yourself to another frugal liver, and finding all the ways you fall short, will only discourage you.  Instead, compare yourself to YOU and ask where you can challenge yourself to make cut backs here and there.  If you go into it with the right attitude, it can be a fun game and not a horrid exercise in deprivation.

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Here’s the link to my 365 Photo Blog with today’s new post.

 

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3 thoughts on “You Only Have To Be Yourself

  1. I know it’s tough not to compare in this world of financial bloggers, but we all have different priorities and things we want to do with our time and money. I save on groceries so I can splurge on books but it’s not the same for everyone, you know? You do what’s best for your family! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I completely agree that the amount to which you endeavour to be frugal should very much be a personal choice. While it may be nice to aspire to a degree of “frugalness” to help with savings goals, I don’t believe in taking frugality to the extreme. Life is short and for the living, so in my opinion it’s about finding the right balance. Keeping control of spending and making savings where possible, but not at the expense of ruining the enjoyment of life in the *now*.

    Liked by 1 person

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