BUT …..I would really like to go to Japan for my 50th birthday, Please. I have that image (found in the V&A earlier this year)pinned on my vision board to spur me on. This is a long wished for dream but one I never believed I could make happen. And one that always got put off for other exotic locations because when I do it I want to do it in style. I want to experience the peace and tranquility of the mountains and the gardens, the buzz of Tokyo, the speed of the bullet train, the sacred tea ceremonies and the friendly people. How can I manage that though? Well, maybe by joining in a bit more with Essex Hebridean and her Frugal Fridays I can get enough money together to do just that whilst still living every day to the full and not feeling like I am missing out on things.
I admit it, I have an aversion to the word frugal. There I said it. And it makes me feel so much better.
The word frugal for me conjures up images of poverty, arriving home on a Thursday evening from school to no heat or light and waiting for my Dad to arrive home with his wages so that we can feed the meters before rushing to the chip shop to feed ourselves, putting that aside and using my grown up head to think about the word frugal I can see that my experiences as a child was caused from living with a Mum who was never frugal. Indeed I remember the feasts that we had when she had won at the bingo, the treats that she would bring home whenever she had a part time job and the joy with which she would spend her money.
With further analysis of my childhood I can draw on the memories of my Nana’s glass cabinet where, in amongst the china cups (never used except at Christmas) and the decanters which I don’t think actually ever saw a drop of brandy or whisky, I remember the envelopes clearly labelled “window cleaner” “insurance” “coal man”. This was where I honed the skill of balancing my budgets and working out what I could and could not afford. Sitting with my Nana on a Friday afternoon drinking tea at the kitchen table whilst she shared out her money between the envelopes. Only once all of the envelopes had been filled did she sit back and have a sip of her tea looking at what was left on the table before starting to count it out. I think that she needed that tea to give her strength and courage for the next task. Whipping the pencil out from behind her ear where, as if by magic, she made it sit for the whole day, she would lick the nib, place a clean white sheet in front of her and do some calculations. Then more envelopes would appear. “Milkman” “Food” “Meters” “Treats” She would divid the remaining money into each envelope and that was it. The weeks budgets were set. She always made sure that something went into the “Treats” envelope. She told me many years later that, more often than not, she would be taking some money out of that envelope to feed the meter and she would see it as a treat to be able to have heat for an extra few hours. Nobody knew this but her. Oh and that isn’t to forget the elastic £5 that she had. This was £5 that was constantly being loaned out and repaid to one or other grandchild. She never gave us a handout if we wanted something we always had to pay it back. I thank her for that every day when I see so many youngsters getting into debt because they have never learned the concept of budgeting. I guess that you could call my Nan the originally payday loans person but without the high interest rates. I actually find it quite funny that people blog about the envelope system that I grew up with. As if it is a new found art.
So, apart from learning about budgeting from my Nana, I guess that I learned my mantra “I have more than enough for my needs” I have, for the most part, lived to that mantra. For most of my adult life I have been blessed to feel that way. I have been lucky enough to earn enough money not to have to draw out of that “Treats” envelope for what we now see as a basic human right heat and light. I learned from my Mum that it doesn’t pay to fritter money away and enjoy the moment. Now I guess, I need to learn how to fall between the two posts. Rather than being obsessed with not spending I need to learn how to spend wisely.
Life is very different now though. Taking a career break means that I need to return to those values of being more aware of what I will be spending my money on. How the money will be divided and ensuring that I can still build “Treats” into my life. I follow a fair few blogs where people talk about being frugal and how to make their money stretch. BUT I still hate that word frugal. I know, I know I need to “get over it” it is just a word. I can’t though. For me frugal is a negative word, almost as bad as “make do and mend”. Making do for me suggests that you are not happy with what you have but it will just “have to do”. I want to be happy with what I have, not make do. That doesn’t mean that I want to have the latest gadgets, up to date fashions or trendy make up brands. No, I want to enjoy what I have and relish it. This brings me back to my motto “I have more than enough for my needs” I really do.
What are my needs?
- Shelter – I have a lovely house that I share with my partner.
- Heat – we are living in a house with only electricity for heat and light – expensive so I need to be aware of the cost of bills.
- Water – on tap and not able to shop around for this but I can reduce the amount I use
- Food – I can be more canny when shopping for food. Living rurally means that I dont have supermarkets on my doorstep competing for my custom so I need to learn how to shop for the best. Grow my own even.
Finally I have decided to stop kicking against Frugaldom and embrace the ethos whilst trying to think of a description that doesn’t make me run to the hills.
Here are a few blogs that I currently follow who all talk about a frugal life. Some you will already know but I hope that some are new to you.
You might notice that these blogs also have something else in common. They talk about other things than saving money. In fact saving money, whilst integral to their way of life, is not the main focus of the blog. It is about living life to the full. These blogs are much more akin with my beliefs about what being frugal is all about. Frugal shouldn’t be about going without, not having the best of things, making do and mending. Now does that mean that I am ready for a shift in thinking. I think it might.
With that in mind I think that I might just join in with Essex Hebridean’s Frugal Friday series. I have learned so much from her already so lets see what else I can learn from people who join in with her.
So what does frugal mean to you? What words would you prefer to use other than Make do and Mend and Frugal? If you have more than enough for your needs what is your BUT, and how can saving for that be incorporated into your budget?
Why not join in with Essex Hebridean? If you do a post then put a comment on her blog with a link back to your blog. Let’s all learn together and share a passion for reaching our goal to live life today instead of one day.