Frugality is One Way of Life unless it Impedes Happiness

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Frugality for me was a necessity when I started down the path. It then became good because having extra money for debt made me feel good. At the time I even made my own laundry soap. If it saved money I at least tried it.
Currently, I’ve become less frugal due to my living situation. Having a roommate requires me to think of him as a paying customer. This in turns makes me think of his wants and needs, sometimes above frugality.
Even though I no longer make my own laundry soap and now have central air and a new washer and dryer, I am still looking at being frugal and minimalist. For me happiness comes from more money and less things to deal with. If frugality is a means to getting there than so-be-it. If it becomes to much of a hassle then I’ll let myself enjoy life instead, because life is too short to be thinking of every penny spent.

After working in the ER of a busy hospital for the past year, I realized that death comes at all times, ages, and places. Nothing else has brought me so close to the death process than seeing people awake one minute and completely still the next. It made me more appreciative for the days I have and the quality I put in my life.

Fast forward a year later and I working at a nursing home. I have become more in tune to finding quality of life. Working with amazing people has allowed me to see that life is a gift no matter who you are or the age. It has also given me the knowledge that sometimes we all need a little help, but it shouldn’t take away from living a full and happy life.

Both of these experiences has allowed me to find what I want in life more than what I think I need. It has made me strive for quality versus quantity. I now make choices more for happiness and less for what others think or are doing.

- FBS

Money Mindset

money mindset

My money mindset came from growing up poor.  I can’t say I was the poorest kid on the block but once my mom and dad split at a very young age, I no longer knew what a regular life looked like.  We struggled to have food on the table, a place to live, and forget about anything new or even used (like clothes).  It was a hard way to grow up but it has shaped me into who I am today.  For that I am grateful, as I would not be who I am without the struggle to show me that progress is worth it.

It’s taken me a long time to realize that struggle is worth the pain and suffering.  I could easily do without little things like candy or coffee in order to save money.  I could not, however, struggle harder or longer such as with a new crazy job without wanting to give up instantly.  I have in the past, given up instantly.  It was an easy way to live life, but it didn’t make life any easier.

Enter my new Job

This job has opened my eyes up to so many new ways of thinking.  I can use my customer service skills, my reasoning skills, my interpersonal skills, my investigative skills, etc.  This has allowed me to grow as an individual and given me therapy beyond any vision I ever had in the past.  It has also allowed me to accept every part of me, even the parts I thought I already accepted.

I accept my past, my present and my future.  I am who I make myself out to be and I will only grow and continue to be amazed at myself.  I may have come from a past without money, but it the current I have enough to be happy, fed, and relaxed.  I can enjoy life and I will do just that.

I started out in a situation where I didn’t know if I would have food or shelter and it continued through my life.  I struggled to survive while trying to enjoy the things I loved.  I tried to enjoy working on computers and my home and playing music, all the while in the back of my head I never could relax.  I could never sit down and just be and enjoy life.  I thought I was enjoying life, instead all I ever was doing was surviving.

Everything Changed the day I took my new Job

I no longer have to worry about every day.  I can’t say I’m not broke at the moment, because let’s face it house repairs, new AC and washer / dryer wiped out my savings account, but I no longer have to live to survive.

Even in my marriage life was unpredictable.  Life was a never ending challenge with more downs than ups.  It still has it’s challenges but the lows are followed by highs, which in turn are followed by calm.  I never knew that there was time to be calm in life except when I pushed myself to meditate.  Now is the time I get to enjoy calm.

Life may not be calm every day and I might not even have the job I have today, but I will enjoy what I have now and enjoy it one day at a time.  No more living to survive.  Today I start a real life.

What’s your money story?  Did it shape the way you handle money today?  What are you doing to change that?

- FBS

My Washer and Dryer Decimated my Emergency Fund

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My emergency fund was eaten by my new washer and dryer.

After saving for a shed, and air conditioning I thought I was done spending money.  Of course the universe always likes to have the last laugh and send more expenses my way.  Thank goodness I laugh back because I have an emergency fund.

Goodbye to the Washer and Dryer

My washer was a wedding gift from my Ex’s father.  His family had purchased it and used it for quite a few years.  This poor washer had it’s motor replaced, but was still working like it was new.  They gave it to us at the time, because it was out of warranty.  If it ever needed a new motor or something else it wasn’t going to be worth replacing.  I gladly took it as my washer and dryer came from a thrift store and was (if I was lucky) from the 70′s.  The washer I was given was digital and seemed very high tech although I am sure it was at least 12 years old at the time.

I had no issues with the washer until most recently.  After moving the entire house it seemed as though some things were broken and just not working properly.  The washer, being one of those things, started saying overloaded when having anything big and wet in it.  Things like blue jeans or towels would send it into a tizzy and it wouldn’t always spin during the last drain cycle.  I could usually get it to spin and drain, but it required taking out the heavy / fully wet things to get it to work again.

The other day the washer started turning itself on for no reason.  It was my day off so I was out doing yard work.  I kept coming in the house for various reasons only to hear a beep.  I eventually figured out the washer was making the noise.  It was on and ready to wash.  I turned it off only to find it turn back on in the matter of minutes.  I unplugged it while I finished my yard work.  I came back in and plugged it in.  It kept beeping, but then I couldn’t turn any of the other settings on unless I messed around with it.  I knew it was beginning to die.

Having a roommate I knew I needed to get a new washer right away.  We both could have used a parent’s home or paid for wash, but it wouldn’t have been ideal.  Paying for wash is quite expensive in this area and most places have attendants that wash your clothes.  Something to do with people that would wash things not made for a washer or dryer and basically ruin the machines.  Parent’s aren’t ideal either especially because we all work on different schedules.

After talking to my roommate about local options i.e. local paper, craigslist, used appliance places, etc. I decided I would go check out businesses to see what sort of extras they offered.  I was worried about getting the old set out, and not having a truck or someone to lift a large, heavy appliance I was afraid getting a used set might leave me with the same problem in another year.

I checked out a store that had a sale on all appliances.  I knew this was huge because as luck would have it I checked out a couple of washer and dryers the last time I was there.  I had already looked up a few different brands online for reviews, so I had an idea of what I wanted.  The reviews helped me narrow down the ones I wanted, so I went looking for a decent price.

Once at the store I wanted to make sure I could get free delivery, free haul away, and free hook up all the things used appliances wouldn’t come with.  I compromised on a pair that just seemed to do everything I wanted.  They had a decent price and although I would be decimating my emergency fund I knew it was the right purchase.  I would have never purchased new in the past, but since living on my own I realize I cannot do everything myself.  Even though I spent more than I originally wanted and came home with a dryer, I am very happy with the purchase.

Have you ever purchased new for ease of hauling, installing or removing?

- FBS

Have you Downsized since the Recession?

I was watching a rerun of the show called “Downsized” on the Bio channel (Originally aired from 2010 to 2011 on WE tv). I’m not one of those people that like television a whole lot let alone a reality show. This one caught my attention because it was people who had to downsize after losing money during the recession. I had too had trouble during the recession.  My then husband and I worked multiple jobs with no sleep.  We lost jobs, but gained valuable knowledge on all things finances.  I started this blog based on that horrible time and what I went through, but enough about me.

What I didn’t understand about the people on the show was the fact that these people were still living above their means as if the money fairy was going to fix their horrific credit card spending habits. They had an income of about $4000, but were spending over $6000 per month.  Spending $2000 over and above their income is crazy. Of course the couple on the show had multiple kids, and health issues which made it difficult to spend less, but they also spent money on all kinds of extras things like cheerleading.  Extra curricular activities and other non-essential items are considered a luxury for people who can afford it; they are not every day items.  They should have cut those out right away, but the family wanted to keep some normalcy for their children.

Despite all of the extended spending and wanting to live above their means, the couple did seek financial counseling.  It was tough on them, but it really did help them out. The advisor made them suck it up and think about saving every penny and cutting everything possible. That part was hard and them and did affect the kids most, but after all was over I am sure no one will care they missed prom or one sports game.

I have to admit that even though I lost a lot in the recession that I wouldn’t change it.  I am much happier now than I was before all my financial problems started. I learned a lot and even started this blog as a result of everything I went through.  I get to use my knowledge of all things financial to keep my life calm, and happy with savings for now and the future. I would call that a win-win and more win situation.

How have you changed since taking on financial knowledge?  Any recession stories out there?

- FBS

Another Blow to the Minimalist Lifestyle with Air Conditioning Pun Intended

air conditioning

I purchased central air conditioning *gasp (or should I say blow haha)

I haven’t had central air since living in apartments.  I have been roughing it with window units or leaving it off to save money.  Since moving to this northern state, I thought I wouldn’t use it because I still can’t get over that it barely hits 60 degrees a handful of times and it’s almost summer.

Last summer I moved in at the end of the small heat streak, so I went without air conditioning all-together.  I didn’t feel like I needed to take the time and put in an air conditioner, only to take it out and in a month.  I slept during the hottest part of the days, so as long as I slept I was fine.  I also plugged in a few fans and left the bathroom fan in the master bedroom on in order to suck out some of the heat.  I think at the time I was also sleeping on the floor, because I hadn’t put my bed fully together.  All great ways to beat the heat, and I don’t remember complaining at all.

Since then I have gotten a roommate and remembered that two huge electrical sucking appliances can’t be running at the same time on the same circuit.  This would only allow air conditioning in the living room or my roommate’s bedroom, but not at the same time.  Since I have pets, not running air conditioning in the living room all summer is not an option.  Running it only in my roommate’s room is not an option either, since his bathroom, the kitchen and the living room would be insanely hot for him.

I had been saving for the air conditioning unit by earmarking my roommate’s share of rent and utilities.  This has caused me to be broke every month and curse my checking account, but now that it is over I can start putting that extra money for more useful things.  Not that air conditioning isn’t useful, but for the price of a unit and installation I could have purchased a used car.

That all being said, I feel as though I am spoiled with the new unit.  I actually haven’t used it yet except to make sure it is working, but the idea of it is enough to make me smile.  The luxury it will give when it allows me to use all of my rooms in the summer is enough excitement to last me way past looking at my sickly savings account for awhile.  I would actually stop going to school in the summer, because I hated the heat and would spend most of my time outdoors.  Not necessarily a bad thing, except now with a full-time night job, I definitely will have to stay indoors more.

What I am doing to counteract the new air conditioning.

I am firstly giving away my old window air conditioners, and trading for some help with my new shed in the process.  I am also planning on doing more giving away and cleaning out of my crap since I will be able to be inside more this summer.  I might as well use the air conditioning to get back on my minimalist kick, as air conditioning was never the plan with my new minimalist route I am taking.

Have you always had central air?  Does it take a good chunk out of your budget?

- FBS