Lets be honest: anyone can do anything for a short enough time period.
- sprint for five seconds
- don’t eat sugar for one hour
- don’t spend any money for one day
No problem. These are easy to do because it is such a short period of time. Start tacking on minutes, hours, days and it becomes more and more challenging.
When I was part of a popular weight management program, they used to tell me that to make something a habit you have to do it for 21 days. Sure, if you do something for 21 days, it becomes easier, but I question if it is actually a habit. Its definitely not a lifestyle change after 21 days which is ultimately what you need to succeed at both diets and the frugal lifestyle.
**Wow – I don’t like that phrase at all: frugal lifestyle. It sounds like living a life a deprivation. I’m going to change it to: financially independent lifestyle. A little wordy but much better.**
Back to my original analogy. Buy nothing months are a great way to kickstart your financially independent lifestyle just like starting a new fad diet is a great way to lose a few pounds; however, neither of these options are great for making a lifestyle change.
Why do I bring this up now? Because, hard as you may find it to believe, even we Eivy’s struggle with maintaining a financially independent lifestyle. We paid off our mortgage (yea!) and then started slipping. One little meal out here, an amazon purchase there and pretty soon you have a recipe for working in an office for the rest of your life.
However, it is also important to figure out a balance that is sustainable for your lifestyle. The hardest thing for me about being frugal is eating out. I LOVE to eat out. Its convenient, its fun, its connecting and it is oh so delicious. Am I going to do it everyday? No! But I’m not going to worry too much about it I do eat out a couple times a week. Especially, if I can find a place to do it relatively on the cheap.
**Side note: I found the most amazing burger place next to my skating rink where, we discovered last night, we could all eat for under $20 total. Pretty good.**
Some people can live quite happily never eating out, but for my lifestyle and my sanity, it really is a must. I could deny this and continue to cook every meal at home every night, but that is not sustainable and sustainable is the name of the game! To really make a LIFESTYLE change you have to figure out what is sustainable for your family.
Don’t get me wrong, compared to most people we are still quite frugal. My clothing budge is about $10 a month, and aside from Derby dues we don’t pay anything for entertainment (bonus- Derby doubles as our gym so that’s covered as well). We don’t have cable – just Netflix. We don’t buy new things for our house – just used and only if we absolutely need it. And you know what? I feel so rich. Seriously. I want for nothing. I pinch myself because I can’t believe how lucky I feel.
This is what is sustainable for us. I’m curious what is sustainable for you?