Throughout college and into my mid-late 20’s, I distinctly remember being called “frugal” quite often. At the time, I embraced that adjective and fooled myself into believing that I was financially responsible. I thought I was pretty good with my money. I felt I had a decent hold on personal finance.
Think of all the “frugal” things I did. I would scoff at buying new clothes because the ones I had were fine (still do), or I would keep the heat at 65 in the winter (still do).
But, at the same time, I would buy a new television, or spend another $100 at a bar with friends on a Saturday night. (Some good, but foggy memories there!) I would buy a coffee and bagel every morning from Dunkin’ Donuts, and I would pick up a sub or a pizza on the way home some nights if I didn’t feel like cooking. I bought a $25,000 pick up truck, when the car I already had, or an older pickup, would have sufficed. In other words, I was fake frugal. Take this frugal quiz to find out if you are, too!
See, the thing was, that while I was fooling myself, and I guess others, about my money usage, I was blowing it in other ways.
My money situation reminded me more of a bad diet. It was like I was eating a healthy breakfast and lunch then having a solid workout at the gym only to follow it with crab rangoon and chicken lo mein for dinner and an ice cream sundae for dessert. So while I was making some good money decisions, I was missing out on so many more. I think I realized this to a degree, but ignored it enough to keep spending.
When It All Changed
In early 2016, I stumbled across an article that changed my life forever. The Yahoo! article was titled, “How I Retired at 30”. This seemed interesting, and despite the fact that I was already 34 at this point, I clicked on it. Who wouldn’t want to retire early? Or at least have the financial independence to do so if they wanted? The article talked about Mr. Money Mustache, a self-proclaimed “financial badass” who was able to save over 70% of his income, not through making ridiculous money, but through a more simple lifestyle.
The article was interesting enough that I went to his blog and started from the beginning. I was beyond hooked. I read through the entire blog in about 3 days, and realized how much I agreed with everything he said. It got me thinking…
In what ways do I waste money?
How much money am I actually saving?
What really makes me happy?
Big changes were coming….
From there, I dedicated myself to learning as much as I could about finances. I read all the big books like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”, “Your Money or Your Life” and “Automatic Millionaire”, I listened to Dave Ramsey on the radio, and I started to follow a bunch of people on twitter. I stumbled across other blogs like Frugalwoods, Cait Flanders, Get Rich Slowly and Our Next Life. All of this led to me questioning what I had been doing with my money all of these years. But it also motivated me to start aggressively saving money, attacking and avoiding debt, and being more mindful of my time and how I used it. Originally, I had a strict budget, but I have since moved toward mindful consumerism. Learn more about it here.
In the last few years, I have sold my expensive, gas-guzzling truck and started using the $1,000 rule, we have paid down a good amount of the debt we have acquired over the years, and we make our coffee (and most meals) at home as often as possible. Our lives have changed significantly, and our financial situation is stable because of the changes we have made.
I created this blog as a means to encourage others to move toward a happier, and healthier life. The backbone of the blog revolves around minimalism and money, but I’d like to think that there is more to it than that. While being more financially responsible was great, resetting the priorities in my life is what truly made me happy.
I’ve learned that by living a frugal, intentional, minimalist, organized life, I am as happy as I have ever been.
More clearly than ever, I can see that life is not about what you have, but who you have. It’s about forging stronger bonds with friends and family, doing things with a purpose, and taking care of others. I’m not sure if I could call this the “be happy” blog, but I could call it the “be happier” blog.
What made you interested in personal finance? How did it start for you? I would love to hear in the comment section!