Last Saturday, Devin and I celebrated being married six-months. It has been a wonderful six-months full of joys, but also sprinkled with plenty of trials. Trails that, by God's example of love and grace, have only served to draw us closer.
So with that in mind, why not add a self-imposed "trial" to the mix and grow even closer? Crazy right? Maybe not. (Hopefully not.) Here's our plan: We have agreed that our six-month-iversary will mark the start of Goal #54: Live six-months radically frugal. (Technically, this was Devin's brain-child, but I put it on my list to show that I was on-board.) It's perfect timing too, because apparently April has been dubbed by our President, Financial Literacy Month (but I'm not even going to touch that political inconsistency with a ten-foot pole).
Now, Devin and I are a pretty frugal couple to begin with - we have an older apartment, we drive used cars, we don't have cable, we don't eat out all that often. But for the next six-months, we will be taking our frugality to the next level. I'm not entirely sure what "the next level" looks like, but I'm sure it will be intense at times. Here are some guidelines we have:
- Borrow instead of buy (example: my best friend just happens to wear the same size as me and I have already started raiding her closet for the occasional borrow)
- Make instead of buying (example: make dinner instead of going out, even on date night!)
- Buy used instead of new
- Use coupons and gift cards
- Eliminate excess and make use of what we already have (example: eating what is already in the pantry before we stock up on food again)
- Question the necessity of every purchase - give all "needs" a second thought and avoid "wants"
We'll be ending this little venture of ours on October 10th - our first wedding anniversary. Why, you may wonder, would we do this to ourselves during our first year of marriage? A time that is supposed to be filled with joy and boundless happiness? I'm so glad you asked.
We want to be able to live simply in order to save more and give more. We want to learn to live opposite of our consumer-driven culture. We want to be excellent stewards of what God has given us - to not hoard it for our own pleasure, but to use it to bless others more. We want to "test the financial waters" in preparation for me staying home in the future (which will cut our income considerably). We want to create good spending habits for the future, so that even when these next six-months are over, some of the lessons we've learned will stick.
A few years back, before I even knew Devin, I realized that I was spending a large amount of my merger student income on clothes. Sure, the clothes were on sale (a justification I clung to), but they were also clothes that I did not need. So, I made a commitment to not buy any clothes (used, on-sale, or otherwise) for one year. I succeeded too.
That year taught me a valuable lesson about what I really need and don't. A lesson that still affects my spending habits, some three years later. Even after my "clothing fast" was over, I had developed the habit of pausing before I bought clothing and debated with myself as to whether or not I really needed this item. Of course, 98% of the time I did not need that new article of clothing and about 80% of the time (hey, I'm not perfect!), I would put it back on the rack and move on with my life (and what's more, survive without it just fine).
I'm thankful for that year-long clothing fast of mine, because I think it will help to give me stamia over the next six-months as we pause and question every purchase we make. Here goes!
(image borrowed from this living frugally blog)
Q4U- Any tips for living extremely frugal that you'd care to pass along?