This is a guest post from Matt, a 33 year old IT manager and blogger who is passionate about helping himself and others get out of debt. He writes about personal finance and debt-free living at Debt Free Adventure. To connect with Matt visit his blog, subscribe to his RSS Feed and/or follow him on Twitter.
A National Issue
For the last 100 years the American economic machine of gross abundance and mass consumption has truly been a wonder to behold. Sparsely could one have predicted that such national prosperity could be created, realized, enjoyed, and dismantled with the velocity, beauty, and wonder of a shooting star. Is our prosperity fleeting like the fiery tail of a distant passing comet, or are we simply in a national slump? Is frugality here to stay or is it too just a flash in the pan for Americans… another coping mechanism of a people who seem to be able to adapt to any crisis laid at their feet? I do not know the answer to these questions, and will leave the debate of such up to the economists of the day. Instead I choose to focus on my individual situation, what I feel compelled to do, and how I intend to do it long into the future.
A Personal Background…
Like many modern governmental, corporate, and individual budgets the country over — fiscal irresponsibility was the central theme of our family finances. Although we were not spending as irresponsibly as many, because normal consumption rates had become so perverted, my wife & I were sheepishly spending more than we earned, which was ultimately creating a financial reality with which we were rarely pleased. I am willing to bet that much of what I have written is quite familiar to many of you… please read on. You see… throughout our first 3 1/2 years of marriage my wife and I followed the financial concepts of complacency without any real concern for the consequences of our ignorant choices. We continued down that path until January of 2009… when we finally woke up to the true end to which we were heading. I wanted to give a brief synopsis of how we turned our financial situation around, and the benefits we have realized along the way. The steps we took and those we implore you to follow, are the obvious ones that are gone over regularly here on MyTwoDollars such as:
- Start spending less than you earn
- Exercise frugality
- Reduce your expenses
- Increase income if at all possible, and work to diversify your income streams as much as possible
- Give liberally
- Save your money
Since my wife & I have begun exercising frugality in our lives we have noticed many incredible benefits. Some of these benefits were expected, and some never entered into our minds, but are simply the harvest we reap from a life of wise, deliberate choices.
5 Random Benefits of a Frugal Life
This list is by no means all inclusive, but is simply a collection of 5 specific benefits I wanted to share with you today.
1. Saving Money – This may be the most obvious benefit of adopting frugality, but it most certainly needs to be mentioned. I would wager to say that, in the long run, a focus on frugality has been the single best money saver for our household. Frugal living builds on itself, always saves you money, and is addictive… in a good way.
2. Sustainable Lifestyle – By practicing money saving habits in all areas of our home we have adopted a strict reuse philosophy. Not only has it vastly decreased the trash we produce, but has even cut down on the amount of recycling we return because we simply recycle a lot of things back into our home. We save most commercial package containers for reuse. We have all but eliminated our use of air conditioning, and use our furnace far less. This reduces both the amount of coal our local power plant has to burn and also the natural gas we consume. We ride our bikes more often and have went from using 2 vehicles to using only 1 vehicle, which also has many health benefits.
3. Increased Creativity – Whenever we used to need ANYTHING the first thought in our mind was to rush to the store… but not any more. More accurately, that is normally the last thing we think of. We have begun making so many different household staples such as homemade laundry detergent, yogurt, crackers, cards, gifts, homemade dishwasher detergent, we installed our own paver patio and back yard. I could go on and on, but rather than wax repetitive, I would just like to stress the benefits of the creative mindset you gain when living life from a frugal perspective. I cannot move onto the next point without mentioning what a HUGE blessing it was to cancel our TV service. It was one of the tougher decisions to make, but has turned out to be one of the best… hands down and has greatly bolstered both our availabe time and our level of creativity!
4. Increased Joy – One of the least talked about benefits of adopting a frugal lifestyle is the fact that you have a much higher degree of satisfaction with your financial choices that ultimately lead to ever increasing amounts of joy. Couple this with the other benefits mentioned above, and you can see how exercising simplicity, discipline, & wisdom can lead to a much more loving and joyous family life. I know this has been a huge reality for my wife and I.
5. Self Reliance – Because we are making more and more of our own food staples and household products we are becoming increasingly more self-reliant. This is a passion of mine that I never realized was so closely related to living frugally. We are growing a hearty vegetable garden and have installed rain barrels to irrigate it for free. As I mentioned in a few of the points above, we no longer look to consume first… but rather first look to create. This spills over into every area of life and is an enormous blessing that cannot rightfully be explained unless you experience it first hand!
So what are you waiting for?
Get started today by taking at least one frugal step to increase the financial security of your family. Remember that frugality builds upon itself but the ball will not start rolling on its own… you have to push it. What was the first and/or best frugal choice you have made so far? Also, what are some benefits you have realized since adopting a frugal lifestyle?