Preventing the frugal doldrums
photo by ookikioo
When I began my frugal journey, I was highly motivated to tighten the tightwad belt, but sometimes I felt poor. This feeling was due to the transition from living above my means to living within my means. I was making leaps and bounds with my personal finances, but it took hard work and determination not to fall into the old spending traps.
A few tips that helped pull me through my pity parties were learning not to compare myself to others, avoiding heavy marketing in magazines and on television, and appreciating my surroundings and my place in the world. If I really needed a pick-me-up, I would splurge on food that wasn’t on my regular grocery list, such as fresh cherries or quality cheeses. I still tend to splurge on perennials. My treats cost less than $15 and help me stay on track. I’m a firm believer in finding balance in frugal living. Enjoy your life and live a little. Just be sensible and stop buying what you can’t afford.
The following are tips from readers who share how they avoid feeling poor.
MEAL TIME: I like to go out to nice restaurants once in a while. We never go without using a coupon, and usually it’s “buy one entree get one free,” but it’s nice to be waited on instead of always waiting on everyone else. — Angela, California
I drag out the good china, linens and candles for dinner when we’re wishing we could eat out and the money isn’t there. Even spaghetti seems special when served that way. — Denise, Illinois
PARTY ON: I feel good when I can throw a good party. Even if it is just tea with a girlfriend. I pull out the china (it’s ugly, but it came with my husband) and make some scones and muffins, and we sit and chat. My husband and I also like board games. We frequently host “game days” and invite others for a day of fun. I cook from scratch, and our friends bring dishes to share, but I think the idea of still being able to play hostess and entertain even on a budget is the best part. — Cea, Maryland
PERSONAL ATTENTION: I regularly get my nails done and my eyebrows waxed. Some people say I am crazy for having these things done when I could be saving my money, but it makes me feel like a million bucks, and since my best friend is my nail/eyebrow tech, the amount I spend is nowhere near full price. — Trese, Oklahoma
NIGHT AT THE MOVIES: We go to a dollar movie theater not too far from us. It’s a small treat and helps me stay on the frugal track. — Latierra, Texas
BUY NEW ONCE IN A WHILE: I allow myself a few bucks to shop clearance racks. It’s a treat because it’s new and not secondhand. I don’t feel so poor because I have shifted my wants to cheaper wants, and that helps me. — Reba, Maryland
BRAND-NAME SPLURGE: I only buy name-brand coffee, dish liquid and toilet paper. It seems that using a few of my favorite name brands, as opposed to generics, makes me feel not so poor. Of course, I buy them when they’re on sale, but it still helps me not feel deprived. I go to consignment shops and buy designer clothes. Looking good makes me feel like people don’t view me as poor, even though I am frugal. — Jade, e-mail
FEEL GIRLIE: I take a long bath with bubbles and paint my toenails. It just makes me feel good. Then I put on a nice outfit, do my hair and makeup, and go have a cup of coffee or a soda at a local restaurant. It’s fun to get dressed up and enjoy the restaurant’s ambiance and not spend a fortune. Another thing I like to do is take advantage of free entertainment in our town. — Shel, Wyoming
PAMPERED FOR FREE: I feel rich when I’m using all my free samples I get in the mail. A lot of them are too pricey for me to buy the full size in the stores, so I get a couple of luxurious moments. I feel rich when I’m eating produce from my little backyard garden. It’s unbelievable the amount of produce you can get out of a very small plot. — Joline, West Virginia
TREAT YOUSELF DAILY: I keep myself from feeling poor by avoiding the stores and by treating myself to something nice daily. My daily routine might include tea from a china teapot with fruit and yogurt, visiting a local bookstore, or giving my feet a hot paraffin wax treatment while drinking homemade mocha and reading. — Bea, e-mail