I read a lot of simple living blogs. I read a lot of minimalist blogs. Most offer nothing new. I have read countless blog posts on ways to save money that all say the same thing:
Shop in the thrift store
Get rid of cable
Get rid of landline
Use the library instead of buying books
Eat out less, etc. etc. etc.
None of these ideas I needed to read to figure out. It’s western medicine; treating the symptoms. To really simplify your life you don’t need a list of things you can do to save money. What you need to change is the mind, cut to the root of the problem and stop treating the symptoms.
I decided 5 years ago I wanted to leave my teaching job and raise my kids full-time. I left my mediocre paying job and we lived on my husbands mediocre $35,000 a year salary. Living a simple, frugal life wasn’t a choice for us. We didn’t decide to downsize our life to get in touch with what really matters, as I’ve read in many blogs. We had to because we were poor. I had to plan the grocery list or I would clean out the checking account. I had to walk places because we had no money for gas. It sucked. I wanted to be able to buy things I needed when I needed them. Simple living blogs and frugal blogs have an air about them that makes the reader feel it is a romantic lifestyle and the key to true happiness. From my persepective, being able to buy milk for my kids cereal was true happiness. Fast forward to 2012. We are in a much better financial situation thanks to hard work and dedication. My husband finished his degree, working until 10 pm and then doing his homework. It almost drove him crazy, he was pale and sick looking from the lack of sleep, but he finished and graduated magna cum laude. He is now an engineer and we are living a great life. We have money to pay the bills and I can buy milk for cereal whenever we need it.
Extra money hasn’t brought us any debt or any major lifestyle change. I still buy used clothing and go to the library. My thinking remains the same as it has been, my mindset didn’t change. I don’t buy things just to buy them. I buy things I need. I think about my purchases.
I avoid temptation by the company I keep. My friends don’t care for an extravagant lifestyle. I read material that supports my beliefs. I avoid advertising whenever possible.
Any time I make a purchase, and I mean any time: gum, shoes, toothbrushes, I always pause and ask myself, “Do I really need this?” If I do, I buy it and forget about it, if I hesitate, I put it back on the shelf. I am constantly trying to decipher between needs and wants.
In order to live a truly simple frugal life you need to change the way you think about purchases. The way you think about necessities and to cement your opinion of yourself. I know I can wear thrift store clothing and have as much value as a person as a woman in a Chanel suit. I know that deep down in my core, so my mind is right for the frugal life. I know that if I spend all day on Pinterest looking at outfits I will want to buy new clothes. So I don’t do it. I read, I write, I play piano. I play with my children and feed my chickens. I tend my garden and I bake bread. I keep busy. I do things instead of sitting and letting myself be entertained by the TV or internet.