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Frugal living is a well known topic the last few years. It’s awesome that people want to learn more about saving money and using what they have. It is a great skill to learn and being good stewards of our money is important. Definitely something everyone should learn. But what about for those people where it is more than just saving a little here or there? The ones that live on a small income and have to make it stretch. For them, the realities of frugal living are very different. Sometimes those realities are pretty awesome. Sometimes living on a super tight budget, not by choice, is just plain hard. Here are some of realities of frugal living of those living on a very tight budget.
You might live a big house. You might live in a small house. You might live in a mobile home.No matter where you live, you’ve probably learned some basic, and not so basic, home repairs. Much of your decor is probably things that you painted, created, or upcycled yourself. The reality is lots of work. It can be frustrating when you have to make do with second hand or whatever you have but it is so rewarding too. It can feel pretty amazing to see something you created yourself. I love the sense of pride my husband has over being able to do our own basic plumbing (even though he hates plumbing). When our hot water heater died, he had no qualms about replacing it himself.
So many things can fit under this category from movies to concerts to going out to eat. This is where frugal living can really feel difficult. I miss having the income to go out to eat once or twice a month. I’ve been to one movie in nine years. We only make it to concerts when it is the chance of a life time (like going to see George Strait on his final tour) or when the tickets are very affordable (we saw Josh Turner at a local fair for $10). Most of the time our entertainment comes from free sources like the library or a church event.
We do have one splurge of paying for television service as we live in a dead zone for free antenna television service. When we want to go out for a nice meal or when I want to go fun shopping, it can be really frustrating that we can’t. The reality isn’t always fun. But most the time, we are happy to spend time together as a family. Summer evenings often find us playing in the backyard. Winter time we love to have “pj parties” on the sofa for a movie night with a movie we already own, we DVR’d/on Netflix, or borrowed from the library. You just learn how to have fun for free and be creative.
Food and Household
This is the one that falls mostly on me. To stretch the budget even further, I make most of the food we eat. Everything my husband packs in his lunch box are made by me, the iced tea, the cookies, and the leftovers from the previous night, even his breakfast is muffins I make in a double batch every other week. I also create most of our own cleaning products and dry our laundry outside on a clothesline when possible.
The reality is very time consuming. However, just like housing, it is so rewarding to know that I am not only making the budget stretch, but I’m also feeding my family healthier food by not having a bunch of preservatives in their food. I love that I have gained the knowledge to clean a house with a few simple items.
The realities of frugal living can be frustrating and tiring. It can be easy to be bogged down by the frustrations of not just being able to go out and buy whatever you need or want. But the rewards of frugal living are what get you through the hard times. Knowing that we can get through with our own hands and knowledge is such a great reward.
Julie is a mom and wife who lives in Maine. She blogs about frugal living and motherhood at Logger’s Wife, where her main goal is to help you love life on a tight budget. She loves coffee, Netflix, and a good milkshake.
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