Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The End of My Frugal Rope

(Originally posted at my now defunct writing up blog on 6/24/06. Apparently these things come in cycles)

Lately I feel like I'm at the end of my frugal rope. (A frugal rope, as I envision it, would probably be made of a series of plastic grocery bags, twisted up and braided together. But I digress.) When I first started being frugal and recognizing places that I could cut back, save money, and live in a more simple and deliberate way, it was very gratifying. I could see the impact of my big changes, could quantify the money savings, could feel the difference as the space opened up in my life.

The longer I live this lifestyle, though, and the more like habit these actions become, the less visible the impact. There are no more big changes to make, no more egregious factors in my life, and that means that there are far fewer victories to be made. I read blogs and message boards where people write "I saved $20 this week by not buying lattes!" For me, this is not a savings. I never buy lattes. I don't get to count that.

I'm afraid that I'm at the point when most people get frustrated and give up. My expenses have leveled off and there is no more big excitement or glamour involved in reducing bills. The changes I have yet to make are much smaller, and are the kinds of things that in the past I have considered trivial, but they're the only changes I have left to make.

It's not so much that I need to cut my lifestyle more because we still don't make enough money to cover out bills; I want to cut deeper to find more money to put towards loans. Most of all, though, I want that excitement back of finding something to cut. Without that sense of victory and success, it's hard to continue to live this way forever.

In order to stay motivated, I'm trying to come up with little games for myself. Every day, I try to stretch one more day before having to run the dishwasher. I'm experimenting to see how I can reduce dryer time by hanging heavier items, running the washer's spin cycle an extra time, and keeping the machine free of lint. (I know I'd do even better by hanging all of my clothes, but I'm still trying to find a productive way to do that in this tiny apartment.) I'm trying to turn my water heater off during the day, to see if that reduces my energy bills at all.

Right now, any victory would be enough to keep me at it.


~Dawn said...

I agree with you sometimes you have to play games with yourself to keep it more of a challenge.

But don't forget, it's ok to just glide along for awhile after paddling so hard. Letting yourself cruise along at a slower pace isn't a bad thing. Just make sure you aren't going backwards.

Good luck :)

Mommy Cracked said...

Hang in there. It's times like these when I have to remind myself of my favorite Dave Ramsey quote: "Live like no one else so later you can live like no one else."

And I agree with Dawn. It's ok to cruise along as long as you're still inching towards that goal.

Lindsay said...

I find it is often not the money I save that I get excited about, but the challenge. I washed my shower curtain and liner today, just to take it out and realize the curtain had shrunk and the liner was torn. Yes, I could've gone out and bought new ones. But instead I ironed the curtain (hoping to stretch it) and lowered the rod. Then i duct taped the liner. Sometimes we don't have to look for challenges they just come to us. However, b/c of our hard work we are able to handle them frugally when the come. It seems as if you have done good, enjoy it. (i think this is the longest comment I have ever written.)

ylfoo said...

I love the little games you have set for yourself daily.

Without which I believe there are no goal which can be very aimless. Subsequently it defeats the purpose of setting the vision of being frugual.

Hang on as tough time does not last but tough lady does!