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14 07 2008

As many of you know, I started this blog to hold myself accountable for budgeting as my wife and I planned and budgeted to move into our new house.  Over that time, I successfully wrote and grew this blog to over 100 subscribers.

Now that we have moved into our house, I’ve found myself at a loss of ideas and motivation to post.  As I’ve been trying to analyze why I feel this way, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because I’m beginning to feel like a hypocrite.  We live in a very nice new house, that we have worked very hard for, however we have had a great deal of help getting here.

First, we got a huge leg up from my wife’s brother and his wife.  They currently own two houses in the Dallas area and offered to let us live in one of them, rent free, as long as we maintained it and paid the utilities.  So far we have not been able to thank them enough for the head start they gave us on saving for a house.  We lived there for about a year, and by living frugally we were able to live on my wife’s salary while saving all of mine.  This enabled us to have a good sized down payment on our house and to fully fund an emergency fund.

Next, my in-laws gave my wife her mom’s old car for her graduation.  Which is a very generous gift by any standards, but when her mom’s old car was a mint condition Lexus SC 430 with low miles, it’s above and beyond.  We were able to sell the car for a large sum, which enabled us to put a very large down payment on our Volvo, and put the rest into the down payment on our house.

Finally, something that I have written about previously, but a check that my grandmother gave me when I was young.  I was able to invest and exponentially grow it.  This money paid for Mary’s engagement ring and our wedding rings.  It also paid off all of our debt after college, and for some of our furniture.

Living in our nice new house I have to say it is hard to feel like we are living frugally, in the truest since of the word we definitely are not.  We have a new 2500 sqft house (for 2 people), and we drive a new car that we make payments on (when we could have paid cash), but what I have really come to realize in the last few months writing this is that being frugal isn’t about being stingy, cheap, or not wanting to spend money.  What being frugal is really about is choices.

Mary and I choose to live in a nice new house, we choose to drive a nice new car, and we choose to make sacrifices to afford both of them.  We take our lunch to work.  We don’t eat out much.  We carpool.  We don’t have cable.  We use coupons. We don’t belong to a gym, instead we workout on our own…which will hopefully be a future post.  Mary made the drapes in our bedroom from nice fabric she found deeply discounted.

As you can see, although we may not be the true poster couple for being “young and frugal,” we like to think that we are wise with our money, and we are able to enjoy the choices that we make, while still saving for retirement.

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5 responses

15 07 2008
Ron@TheWisdomJournal

“Frugal” doesn’t mean cheap. It also doesn’t mean you live in a run down old apartment or a crummy old home. It means you maximize the value of your time, your dollars, and all your assets (including your mind!).

Enjoy the blessings you’ve been given. I think you’re a perfect example of “Young and Frugal.”

15 07 2008
Ron@TheWisdomJournal

Also, enjoy the blessings you’ve earned! If you weren’t frugal, that check you referred to would have been squandered, the car probably wrecked, and you wouldn’t have had the credit score to qualify for that home regardless of the down payment.

Enjoy it. THAT’S being frugal. Enjoying what you’ve earned and been given.

15 07 2008
Kathie

Somewhere along the line alot of us have confused frugality with living in squalor or without pleasure. I agree with Ron, enjoy what you’ve EARNED and forget about whether or not that fits into the definition of frugality. You were given “a leg up” in some circumstances but its how you chose to use that advantage that fits into frugal living – many, many folks just squander that away with nothing to show for it. Congrats!

15 07 2008
Holly Hoffman

Your story shows the importance of making these decisions early on. It’s harder to climb out than it is to never get into it in the first place.

While inspiring, I think those of us who weren’t wise enough to invest young (I’m assuming you were very young when you invested that check), want to know what to do now. And the answer is the same – tighten your belt now, and reap the rewards of a rich life later.

You made the decision to live in your brother-in-law’s house. Some people would have chosen not to – maybe it was too far, not exactly what they were looking for, blah blah blah. You didn’t make excuses – you just did it. I think that’s what people have the most trouble with – patience. Realize that it won’t always be like this, but that it will be worth it in the end.

I spent 6 months in an apartment I hated because it was cheap. That allowed me to buy a car, get out of default on student loans, and begin payments on some outstanding debt. It just had to be done that way. It sucked, but now I have an apartment I love and my credit is starting to get better.

15 07 2008
danielb

Thanks for the encouragement. It’s comments like this that make me want to keep writing!

Holly, The house we lived in was 32 miles away from where we worked. It took us an hour to get to work everyday. It was a sacrifice, but the benefits outweighed the cost.

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