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What living a frugal life really means… to me

The new year is a good time to get all philosophical for a minute, right? As I plod my way through my happy though sometimes un-glamorous life, I occasionally challenge myself with this question: Am I really living in line with my values? Is how I spend my time and money actually in sync with what I know deep down is most important to me? At times I have found that there is a disconnect and I go about re-evaluating my way of life.

All of this checking-in and questioning has helped me really fine-tine my priorities. For example, I’ve figured out that spending time with my loved ones and sharing adventures (big and small) is more important to me than having lots of money or status. My husband and I have rejected the mainstream cultural norm that working 50 hours a week is a good and admirable thing to do , and instead chosen less work and more time together. We would rather find a way to live happily on less money than chase after a way of life that leaves us working all the time and exhausted.

So that is basically what a frugal life is about, at least to us. I realized recently that for years I have been building up a tool box full of strategies for living a rich life on little money. These ways of “frugal living” make it possible for us to live off of what others would consider very little money, which means we have to work less to support our lifestyle.  I have learned how to cook and bake healthy and nourishing food using simple real ingredients. I have learned from friends how to make my own laundry detergent, vanilla extract, homemade bread and many other things. I know how to find nice books, toys, shoes, coats and (mostly secondhand) clothes for us at really low prices. I have found affordable ways for my family to do fun things together such as going swimming, visiting zoos or science museums, and taking amazing vacations (even to Disney World!) While all of the cooking, DIYing and deal-hunting does take time, most of that time is spent together with the people I love and usually involves them.

So I guess I share this to remind myself to keep evaluating whether my way of life aligns with my values and to support others in doing the same. We definitely don’t have the nicest house, trendiest clothes or shiniest car (love those adjectives I just made up?), but we are comfortable, grateful and mostly content. I look forward to sharing our adventures in frugal living with you in this new year!

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