My enemies of frugality: boredom and impatience

Overall, my husband and I are fairly good about keeping our spending in check. Over a year ago, we discovered we were spending waaaay too much money going out to eat all the time. We created a budget and reined in our restaurant and bar spending. We shop for groceries weekly and cook at home. We also pack our lunches and make our own coffee. The flip side is that we spend more on groceries now. Especially because we purchase a lot of produce and organic products.

So, one of the primary ways we save money is by staying in more. Because we have a stocked kitchen, we have incentive to stay in and cook rather than go out for drinks and dinner.

Another way we’ve curbed spending is by staying away from stores. I admit it: I love to shop. Especially for clothes and home furnishings. I just really love it. Whether I need something or not doesn’t matter… it’s fun to buy! Unfortunately my personality type is not particularly conducive to frugality, so I’ve really had to change my habits. Having long-term goals and finding joy in watching the savings account grow has helped, but it’s not second nature to me.

What this means is that my two biggest enemies of frugality are boredom and impatience.

For example, on a recent Friday the Mr. and I went out to eat when we had plenty at home to cook because we were bored of staying in all the time. The next day, I felt like going to a bookstore so we browsed Powell’s Books for a while and I spent $30 on books I could have checked out at the library. I was bored and felt like shopping. And I was impatient because I didn’t feel like putting my name on a waiting list at the library for the books.

Here’s the thing: I’m OK with this in moderation. We didn’t need to go out to eat. I didn’t need to go shopping. I didn’t need those books at that instant. But I’m comfortable indulging some wants in moderation.

It’s like dieting. If you always deprive yourself of sweets and favorite foods all the time, your willpower will likely fizzle out. It’s much better to eat a few M&Ms or a handful of potato chips from time to time to keep yourself sane.

This means I have to be very conscious of my habit of spending money when I am bored or impatient. I’m not one of those people who are naturally frugal, and I probably never will be.

What about you? Are you naturally frugal? If not, what are your personal enemies of frugality?

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5 Responses to My enemies of frugality: boredom and impatience

  1. EFeDesigns says:

    I’m definitely NOT frugal by nature – I was a shopaholic in my younger college days, but was at least lucky enough to not rack up a lot of CC debt. I did, unfortunately, rack up a lot of student loan debt. As did my husband. And then we both got paycuts….so we had to BECOME quite frugal. I sort of think of it as a blessing though…we spend a lot of time together doing things at home, and it really helped us identify WHAT is important enough to spend a little money on and what is not. Plus it helped us come up with a killer plan to knock about 15 YEARS off those loan payments! Sure, clothing and fun home related purchases have fallen by the wayside for now, but I know that I earned the new things we do buy, and I value them a lot more than if I’d picked them up on a whim.

    • Lindsay says:

      Congrats on paying down those loans, that is awesome! I definitely buy far less clothing and home items than I used to (except for my new bedroom stuff… that was a splurge for sure). And, as you say, I too appreciate the things I do buy more than when I was a perpetual shopper.

  2. Carol says:

    I think I’m a conservationist or a saver by nature. I used to love going out to eat though. 9 years ago, when still single, I looked at my credit card to realize I spent $900 on food (eating out, hosting a big party). What was I doing??

    I picked up Your Money or Your Life by Joe Dominguez (from the library). It made such sense to me, talking about financial freedom in a tangible, personally-identified way. I tracked my spending for a few months by calculating the cost of each purchase against the “life-energy” needed earn the money to pay for it (MUCH lower than your wage per hour when you include the true costs of working).

    This approach has guided me ever since although I don’t track anymore. Being conscious, restrained and respectful of money has really paid off for us. We had a six-year mortgage plan and were right on track with it until we decided to downshift (reducing our income by more than half) to have more time with our kids. I’ll be posting about this soon :).

    I hope your frugal efforts lead to you accomplishments you will feel really good about. And like you, we still go out to eat on occasion – with enthusiasm.

    • Lindsay says:

      Hi Carol. I really like what you’re saying about life-energy… definitely something to consider.

      We don’t have any consumer debt at this point (other than our mortgage,) which was a goal that felt amazing to achieve. It has definitely motivated me to stay on the track we are on.

      I admire you for sacrificing some household income for the sake of your family. Makes a lot of sense to me.

  3. MM says:

    A phrase my mom always used was that she had “champagne taste on a beer budget.” Of all the things to inherit from my mom, that has to be one of the top ones. I did not inherit the ability to budget from her, either. That is something I have had to learn in later life.

    Book stores are simply deadly to my budget (I’m not patient either, Lindsay)…and so are home deco stores like all the nifty ones I’ve seen in Portland when visiting there. We have some neat ones here on the East coast, too.

    Shopping with my best friend for clothing is another “better be very, very careful!” time. She has introduced me to designer clothing and bags and shoes…which look fabulous on but horrible on the credit card statement. I’ve learned to shop with her using a cash allowance. “This, and no more.”

    I had to get to the point where I had really clear financial goals, after I became single later on in life, before I could get a handle on my finances. Better late than never!!! I discovered that this is a process, which some come to sooner than later.

    My life path had not brought me to do this until later on but I feel better about things with having goals. At first I beat up on myself for not doing it sooner, but then my family and friends quickly shook me out of that–what’s the sense of that!!!

    I have great admiration for those of you who have discovered this at a much younger stage and are working so diligently to live a “frugal” lifestyle. Sad that there has to be a special name for it. It’s the way an earlier generation just lived! MM

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