We ate from our pantry. We checked out books from the library. We got very comfortable with what we already owned.
It's an intense experience. You realize how many times your default is to buy something. Buy coffee to get through the afternoon. Buy a piece of clothing you really "need." Buy a magazine you really want. Buy. Buy. Buy. At first, it was incredibly hard. It felt like all I was doing all day long was talking myself out of purchases.
But then - like going cold turkey on anything - you adjust. It stops feeling like deprivation. You start to realize how much you actually need. You get out of the habit of spending. It even became a bit invigorationg watching the days that you didn't spend any money add up.
Then, Nicholas got a job.
We said we would stay dedicated to The Austerity Plan. I didn't really feel like I was missing out so I agreed. I was proud of myself for not shopping, not wasting, not spending. However, I've noticed over the past couple of weeks I've been making way too many exceptions to The Austerity Plan.
First, we went out to eat. Then, we went out to eat again...and again. I bought a couple of books off Amazon. We purchased some household items we'd been putting off. Now, that we have money coming in it doesn't seem as imperative that we prevent any and all money from going out.
We pay a lot of good lip service to rededicating ourselves. We both confess our frivilous purchase and say, "I'm going to be better next week." And yet, The Austerity Plan continues to fade into the background.
I try to remind myself of how good it felt not to spend. How good it felt to feel in control when it came to money, instead of constantly feeling guilty. But when I get the chance to eat out with a good friend or spend $5 for a small luxury, I can't seem to say no.
So, here I am again. Asking for advice. How do you stay dedicated to financial goals? Does anyone out there have the secret to consistent frugality? I'm struggling and I need some help.
~ Sarah Stewart Holland