You’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of Our Journey To Frugal Living. It’s been a very imperfect journey but well worth it. I wanted to wrap up this series by sharing a bit of how frugal living works in our family.
We began to get on track with our finances by learning to budget after reading The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. The information and advice he gives is straight forward and practical and we really appreciate that.
However, we haven’t done everything he suggests financially. We had to find what works best for our family and I think that’s important for everyone to remember when they are learning to budget and live more frugally.
One of our big deviations from Dave Ramsey’s advice is that we kept a credit card. I know that’s pretty scandalous for those who follow his plan for financial stewardship but ultimately it was what we felt worked best for us.
We did not use it at all while we were paying down our debt. As suggested in Total Money Makeover, we used debit cards for online orders when I couldn’t use PayPal or when making reservations someplace. However, we were just never really comfortable doing that.
When we had our debt paid off and felt we could manage our credit card responsibly, we began using it again. We now use it for automatic payments of a few bills as well as online purchases and booking reservations. These are all included in our budget. If you know you can’t trust yourself with a credit card I don’t think you should use one but we feel comfortable with using one on certain occasions. It is not something we depend on “in case of emergency” anymore.
Another way we deviated from Dave Ramsey’s plan was our approach to paying off debt. He suggests “gazelle like intensity” and suggests working extra jobs if necessary to pay it off as fast a possible.
We were very focused as we paid off our debt but there were no extra jobs. Also, we were committed to my being home with the kids so my going to work outside the home to help pay off debt wasn’t something we wanted for our family.
While it certainly took longer to pay down the debt and then rebuild after those challenging financial years, we felt that it was worth it. We have been able to make those deviations because we learned to budget and manage our finances better.
We cook, shop, and live differently than we used to because these days we’re focused on being good stewards of all we’re given. That doesn’t mean we say no to everything and don’t enjoy what we have. We still get to go on vacations, enjoy fun family outings, and even splurge from time to time because we budget for those things now.
However, there are more changes we’d like to make. I’d like to have a garden so we can grow and preserve some of our own food, to continue to incorporate ways we can live more sustainably, and to continue to simplify our lives by reducing the amount of “stuff” we have.
Our journey to frugal living goes on as we continue to find ways that work best for our family.
No matter where you are on your journey to frugal living, know that it is worth it. The sacrifices you make while paying down your debt are worth it. The new skills you develop as you learn to live more frugally are worth it. The process of stripping away the excess in your life is worth it.
You won’t always do it perfectly. Sometimes you’ll spend too much or make a bad decision and that’s okay. Use it as a learning opportunity and get back on track. Remember this is a journey worth taking and just keep moving forward.