As I recently mentioned in my Meet Spendy McSpender post, I’ve been on my frugal adventures for a year now. Throughout that year I’ve made a lot of frugal changes to our lives which have helped us cut our expenses and debt, as well as increase our savings.
These improvements to our personal finances were the anticipated outcome of frugality. However, what I didn’t anticipate when we commenced this journey was the impact being frugal would have on my ability to appreciate the small things in life.
I think the more you have of something, the less you appreciate it. And, the less you have of something, the more you appreciate it. As a consequence, by cutting back on my Spendy Mcspender habit, I’ve grown to appreciate the following things a lot more…
As I’ve mentioned in the past, before commencing our frugality journey, we used to have takeaway food once or twice a fortnight. However, we cut this out in order to save up to $2100 a year and now have takeaway very rarely (probably 3-4 times a year).
The wonderful thing about this is that because we only have takeaway every 3-4 months, it is a major treat. As a result, we build up to it, usually planning in advance of when we’ll have it and what we’ll have. This enables us to really look forward to it and get excited about it.
Additionally, we are now really picky about what we do order and usually only pick our favourite (Thai) and make sure it’s from somewhere we know is good.
When we do finally get it, the smell and taste of it is amplified and it’s a really exciting experience. As a result, I enjoy and appreciate every bite of it like it’s a brand new culinary experience.
Going out for a beer after work
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, my beloved and I used to go out for a few drinks on a Friday afternoon after work about once a fortnight.
We didn’t really seek out happy hour or meal deals, but just drank what we pleased. This was great, as we tried some great drams of single malt whisky and nice craft beers. However, as we did this so often, I don’t think we really appreciated the experience.
Now that we do this so rarely, when we do meet up for an after work beer in the city, it’s a real treat. Sure, we might only go to places that offer happy hour deals and drink whatever’s cheap… But, we don’t mind. Simply enjoying a tap poured beer is a an exciting experience.
Additionally, we savour every mouthful and don’t just keep smashing down beer after beer. This not only makes the experience cheaper, but also means that we have more sober, meaningful conversation.
As a result, we usually head home feeling happy, relaxed and reminded of why we enjoy each other’s company so much.
Clothes and shoes
Inevitably, part of my frugality has been cutting back on buying new clothes and shoes. While I haven’t been too bad at buying these items in the past, I have been bad at appreciating them. Consequently, I haven’t looked after them properly, or made an effort to mend them when they start falling apart.
However, one of the great things about restricting purchases of clothes and shoes is that you start appreciating your existing wardrobe a lot more.
Now when a seam comes apart or button comes off I fix it up (or get my mother or mother-in-law to fix it Hehe). Additionally, I try to find a way to fix shoes or repurpose them, such as through redyeing faded canvas shoes.
This keeps things fresh, without the need to consume additional items, which saves money and reduces my environmental impact.
Discovering Op/Thrift stores
In my recent interview with a new mum about ways to save money on the first year of a child’s life, my interviewee stated “op shops have also become my happy place”. This is a sentiment I can agree with.
Before embarking on my frugality adventures, I only visited op shops if I had a dress-up party to go to. However, I’ve now incorporated op shops into my clothes shopping regime (as limited as that may be).
Whilst Op shops aren’t always on point with their pricing and can often price cheap brands not far off their new price, you can find quality bargains for a few dollars that’ll save you a tonne on the new price!
Learning new skills
When I started my frugal adventures, I thought about the personal finance management skills I may learn, but I didn’t think about the practical skills I may learn such as gardening, home brewing beer or repurposing furniture/wood work.
Of the skills I’ve learned over the last year, home brewing beer is by far my favourite one. There is nothing quite like drinking a beer that you’ve brewed, fermented, poured, stored and matured yourself. It is incredibly rewarding and makes that first sip of a beer on a Friday afternoon even more enjoyable.
Now that I know how it is made, and the effort it takes to make subtle flavour changes, I appreciate beer a lot more and get a lot more enjoyment out of drinking a beer or two!
The second-hand economy
Before setting sail on HMAS Frugal, my beloved and I didn’t take advantage of second-hand goods from either a purchasing or selling perspective. This meant that whenever we wanted to buy something, we’d buy it new; and when we didn’t want an item anymore or if an item broke, we’d just throw it out or put it in a cupboard to collect dust.
However, we now see the value in used items from both a buying and selling perspective. Consequently, Gumtree and Ebay have become our happy place! If we want something, we check out Gumtree first and try and source a second-hand bargain first. If we can’t find the item second-hand, then we have a think about buying new and re-evaluate the necessity of the item.
From a selling perspective, we now try and sell anything and everything we don’t want. It is truly amazing what other people will pay for… Our most recent sales include our old toilet roll holder, our broken nespresso machine and aloe vera plants dug out of our garden!
Discovering the second-hand economy has helped us to appreciate the ongoing economic value of resources more and has helped us to rebuke the notion of a “throwaway society” by reusing and recycling existing items. This is not only a lot cheaper, but also helps us to decrease our environmental footprint as well.
When I embarked on my frugality journey, I really didn’t anticipate the extent such a lifestyle would have on my overall appreciation of “the little things” in life. I feel as though having previously had ready access to the conveniences of takeaway, new clothes, after work drinks, etc inhibited my ability to truly appreciate these items and experiences.
Unfortunately, the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” exists for a reason and in my opinion it is because as humans we seem to have an inability to truly appreciate and be grateful for what’s right in front of us, until it’s taken away.