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It may seem like drunken logic, but there is freedom in frugality. By definition, frugality is avoiding wasteful spending and consumption.

Like a financial buffet, I can’t say yes to everything. If I did it, I would be bursting with oysters, cheese pizza, and sausage rolls. Instead, saying no to 90% of the grease party is saying yes to greener options with less heartburn.

It’s shifting energy from trying to do it all poorly to doing a few remarkably well.

Frugality gives you much more than a heap of money in the bank and the ability to pursue unusual aspirations.

Frugalwoods

Frugal = Minimal

Minimalism is about simplicity. Cutting out excess stuff, commitments, and adulting escapades to craft a life with space, time, and joy in surviving the human condition. The consensus is life is short. Why spend time fritting from one average time commitment to another? I prefer to savor a few obligations with anticipation than trying to sprint through the to-do list gauntlet.

Frugality is similar to minimalism, but instead of stuff and time, it’s money and finances. Minimalism and frugality are different sides to the same coin. They both say no to the things that don’t matter and yes to what does.

My level of frugality has been called harsh but, this is my ideal lifestyle. Sure, I could get a better-paying job that gives my finances the jet fuel they need to reach early retirement, but then I would sacrifice the Park Ranger gig.

If I magically hit my early retirement number overnight, I would volunteer as a Park Ranger because it is by far the best gig out there – paid or unpaid.  

Instead of dumping the ranger gig for a better paying gig and eventually circling back as a volunteer, I choose a slower route. Less impressive pay equals less impressive savings, but against the odds and inflation, I have managed to save 56% of my paycheck. Crushing the 50% savings rate making it official: I’m better at saving than spending.

Forcing Focus

Just like time, money is limited and with frugality, it’s all limited.

Satellite TV, frequent dining out, and subscriptions were all booted off the island.

Pricey habits were replaced with something cheaper or free. Satellite TV was replaced with cable. Dining out is dinner in. Subscriptions shifted to the library. Each expense has been replaced by a cheaper, healthier option.

Contrary to popular opinion, frugal living is not living in poverty.

The Millennial Money Woman

The savings from these expenses are funneled towards bigger goals like paying off a mortgage early, retirement investing, and saving for emergencies.

The options may be different, but they don’t feel less. Life is still vibrant with knowledge, fun, and creativity, but it comes with a frugal price tag I am happy to pay.

A good cause is worth the cost.

Inventing Freedom

I have learned many things in the frugality journey.

I had to find other hobbies that didn’t involve spending money in malls or online. Outside of exchanging life energy for goods, I didn’t have many interests

So, I made a long list of skills that sounded interesting even if that interest was questionable. At the start of each year, I decided which skill I would mark off the list. I would do light research to determine time and expense, but most skills took little effort and even less planning.

Some involved taking a class through adult learning courses (knitting, belly dancing, and riding a motorcycle), some I used websites that were specific to the skill (coding) or library books (drawing, investing), and sometimes I would ask friends to teach the skill (juggling, archery).

The skill list is now longer than what I want to learn.

Since 2014, I have tried:

  • Archery
  • Knitting
  • Belly dancing
  • Juggling
  • Picking locks
  • Coding
  • Drawing
  • Ambidexterity
  • Riding a motorcycle
  • Investing

Some of these learning adventures didn’t stick like coding and knitting but, I am a more confident and colorful human because I tried. I enjoyed the learning process, even though it always starts with fiery frustration. Eventually, it cools and blossoms into knowledge. Sometimes as I bump along trying to figure out the shiny new skill, it becomes an unexpected passion like archery, drawing, and juggling.

Either way, time will march on. I might as well grow in wisdom and wrinkles.

As much as I want to be the human who is curious about the unknown, I’m not. I need a reason to learn. The prior twenty odd years of existence, I made zero efforts to learn new skills and it showed. My skill set was as exciting as a wet paper bag.

Frugality gave time, space, and funding, and it was up to my imagination to find solutions like an excited toddler on Christmas morning who prefers to roll around in a cardboard box over expensive toys.

Fearlessly Frugal

As much as I want to do it all, I can’t. It’s expensive, and I have limited time and money. When I do it all, I don’t do it all well.

There is freedom in frugality. It reduces the burden of doing it all and instead focuses on doing a few exceptionally well.

I feel good about those odds. 😉

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