Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Can it last?

I've read a few articles lately about the frugality brought about by the recent economic downturn that have said, basically, that as soon as people have money back in their pockets, they will return to their old ways.

It does bear asking, of course. As a nation, I truly wonder where we're headed...but as an individual, I wonder even more so.

I make no mistake: frugal living is hard, often boring, and a LOT of hard work. Think that I don't know how much easier it is to just buy the tub of hummus instead of soaking beans overnight, then using them the next day, peeling garlic, squeezing lemons, etc? It takes twice as long on the bus to get downtown - but then you don't have to pay for parking (or wear and tear on the car, etc.). Getting movies and books and CDs from the library means that I have to wait until my turn, and that I have to return them sometimes before I'm done, and I can't keep them for later reference. It is a lot easier to go to an expensive resturant for a nice date than to come up with some creative low cost option; it is much simpler to shop for the perfect pair of pants at stores that carry one of everything in each size (instead of a "take it or leave it" that you get at thrift stores).

And I really wish I could spend more money on gifts for people. I'd really like to be able to do that, more than I can say.

And travel. I do love travel, even budget travel, but right now travel is completely off the table.

But here is the thing....

I actually believe that I can keep this up. Of course, it would be nice to not be SO frugal, but I still want to take what I'm learning and keep applying it. I think that my life is better for frugality, and I am grateful for that.

For instance?

I am living according to my values, and that is such a burden lifted. I don't feel guilt over woulda-shoulda-coulda for financial stuff, because I'm on a path and I'm staying there (imperfectly, but still...).

Time I used to spend shopping with girlfriends is now spent just talking to girlfriends.

I'm eating healthier food: junk food is out, resturants are out, I'm eating more grains and less meat.

I'm learning the difference between wants and needs.

But I just want to maintain the stability that frugality gives. I want to live below my means so that I can sleep at night.

I want to focus on what matters in my life. I want to focus on family, friends, health. I want to read, I want to spend time outdoors. I want to work hard at my spirituality, making it a central part of my life and not something peripheral.

Sure, you can do all of these things and spend a ton of money....but I think that spending beyond ones means ultimately leads people away from their "real" goals, not towards them.

I'm learning.

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