Monday, December 28, 2015

I'm Not Frugal Anymore

When we first heard about Dave Ramsey nearly 5 years ago, we were terribly financially irresponsible. We were fabulous at spending money, but never saved any.  We bought what we wanted, and never really understood that that was an unwise thing to do.  We just never had any real, practical, financial advice given to us.

So when I was at a ladies retreat and a gal started sharing her financial journey and about this guy Dave Ramsey, I was glued to her every word.  Everything that came out of her mouth was inspiring and seemed so practical that even I could do it.  My husband received the down-low on this information the second I arrived home.  And from there, we slowly began making changes.

For a long time, I considered myself quite frugal.  It was this frugal-ness that helped us get through some major income reductions, massive medical bills, and some moving transitions.  Frugal-ness helped me become a stay at home mom, and still put money into savings.  It helped us to be generous even in a time where we lacked any significant income.  Frugal-ness totally changed the way we viewed money and resources.  And for a good chunk of time, I think I even found some of my identity in being "frugal."  It was a part of who I was and how I lived.

I've blogged many times over the past few years about our financial journey, and have aimed at being totally transparent in the hopes that our story would inspired others.  I've shared about how and where we saved money, and the changes we had made to help us save a significant amount of money over the years.  I still revisit some of my "update" posts as I find them incredibly inspiring for me to keep going and to stay wise with our money.

Over the past one or two years, our income has gone up quite a bit.  It has allowed us, as homeschoolers, to provide resources, classes, and experiences for our children.  Although on one hand I know their activities are "non essentials" (i.e., they don't HAVE to do them and I could cut them out if necessary), I still view them as essential in that I really desire these aspects of life to be a part of their school education.  I want their education to be more than "book learning," and activities and classes and field trips help accomplish this right now. Currently, I'm SO thankful for the resources to be able to give them a variety or experiences.

I've realized that I would not consider myself frugal anymore.

Although I've had this odd "I'm not frugal" revelation, I would still label myself as "money-wise."  I feel that although I don't try to save money in the ways I used to (hours of couponing each week, cutting all non essentials, not buying anything-ever, etc.), I learned so much through that time of life and am still consistently trying to be wise with the money we do have.  We still do some things I'd consider frugal.  We still make our own laundry soap, bake our own granola bars, and make homemade yogurt and coffee drinks.  We still do many sewing and building projects by hand and buy "used" whenever possible.  We menu plan and try not to let any food go to waste by utilizing our freezer.  We compost or give our chickens most of our scraps of leftover food. We pay cash and don't have any car payments.  We do buy fun things now and then (my husband used part of his Christmas bonus to buy me a Vitamix!)...buying fun things was something we didn't do for a very long time, and it still feels a little weird to do so.

"Frugal" for me, was a time period in life of extreme learning.  It was a kick in the butt to change our spending habits and evaluate how and why we spend our money.  If I ever need to be frugal again, I certainly would be able to in a heart beat.  But even if it's not necessary, I will still ALWAYS choose to be as financially responsible as I possibly can.  I'm grateful and thankful for the lessons our extreme frugalness taught us.  I feel no shame or guilt in not being frugal like I used to, and I feel completely at peace with living a life where we are money-wise in our decisions, even when that means some fun splurges here or there.  Spending money isn't bad; spending money you don't have is bad.

Don't get me wrong.   I still do many frugal things, and we still try to save money whenever we can.  I just don't equate myself with my old, frugal self, and I would no longer tell someone that I'm frugal.

And so, here's to a new season!  A season where our finances look different, but it's just as important as ever to be wise with our money.  A season where we're saving for a home, providing fun new experiences for our four homeschooled children, and saving for world travel someday.

I am not frugal anymore.  I do things differently.  And that's okay.

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