Frugal Is A Dirty Word

I recently joined some budgeting FB groups to learn more and engage with a new community.

But I quickly found I didn’t belong.

It was a good reminder that while the goal to have healthy finances may be a uniting goal, the path to get there can have very different ideals that guide them.

Here are a couple of examples of things that I saw:

  • I saw a ‘hack’ on how to feed your family on $400 a month. So, intrigued, I looked at it because I spend, umm let’s just say a lot more than that on food. But the hack consisted of not super healthy freezer meals. Ummm. Gross.
  • Then I saw a thread (a big thread!) on if garbage bags were cheaper at Target or Wal-Mart. Who cares?!
  • And then plenty of flash deals on Amazon. “Act fast this won’t last!! Get yours!!” Unless that specific item was already on a list of something you need, you don’t need that sale item.

I don’t agree with any of these “hacks”, so let me be clear about my money ideals.

I want you to do the things that are most important to you in the most fulfilling way possible. And most times, that is not the cheapest option. And that is ok!

The ideal state of your spending plan isn’t to spend as little as possible and find all the sales. Because there is always going to be a cheaper way to do something. But is that the most fulfilling way? Is it good and healthy for your family in the long run to be eating cheaper, but more processed food? Is it worth your time to engage in a debate about cheap garbage bags? Do you need more crap from Amazon?

Spending in a way that is most fulfilling to you is called value based spending.

But don’t get the wrong idea. Value based spending isn’t permission to break the bank and start applying this spending principle into every area of your life. That isn’t realistic. For value based spending to work you need to get clear on your priorities and goals. You need to know what matters to you and what doesn’t.

For example…

  • I always want my family to eat healthier and I’m always looking for ways to make that happen a bit cheaper. For me, taking the time to learn more about eating with the seasons and finding more healthy options at places like Costco is where my time and energy should be focused to keep costs lower.
  • I want to spend more on my makeup this year. That is an actual goal of mine. Because I want to start finding better products, natural products that work for my skin. That’s going to cost more, but it’s something I’m trying to prioritize.
  • On the flip side, I try to spend as little as I can on Caden’s clothes. He isn’t in them very long and although I would love buy sustainably made clothes for him that would break my budget at this point. Maybe in the future I can incorporate that more. But it’s not something I’m trying to do right now.

Debating on garbage bag prices is never going to be worth my time. My time is better spent working on my business, finding free activities to do with my son this summer, having a garage sale, selling old stuff, meal planning…the list goes on.

Now, I know some of you are thinking, “But Nicole, I’m in debt. I’m barely making enough to cover expenses. I can’t be spending money on things like all organic food or expensive makeup.”

I hear you on that too.

When I got serious about paying off debt, I didn’t splurge for a while or make a lot of upgrades to my life. We had to cut back and be crazy careful. If you are in a really tight spot, maybe doing a few hacks for a couple months will help you move ahead. If that is where you are, cool, that’s ok. Give everything you’ve got to paying off your debt, especially credit cards.

But understand that this is a season of life. Commit to finding ways to be intentional about giving yourself what you need as you pay off the debt, and know that you will rebalance your budget as you get the debt paid off. There are ways you can be intentional without spending money, even on a tight budget. The tighter the budget the more focused your priorities have to be. You can use the debt season of life as the time to get really clear and focused on your values and build a strong financial foundation.

Spending as little as possible is not the goal. The goal is intentional spending.

That is a practice, not a destination. Be intentional about how you use your time and how you put money back into the world. THAT is the sweet spot. It’s something that continues to evolve with you as your life situations change, as you learn new things, and as you step out of your comfort zone.

So, I’m glad I joined those other groups. Because I did in fact learn something this week. That the message of intentional spending is something that I need to continue to preach from the rooftops.