Frugal living sounds like a boring life. But the truth is, you’ll never be happier than when you embrace the frugal lifestyle.
I pulled into the fast food line, careful to choose my favorite lane. The left side always ran faster than the right for some reason.
Granted, it was a little embarrassing that I did this so often that my 2 year old would point at the golden arches and yell “Dr. Pepper!”
On this day, though, my mind began to wander as I sat and waited for my pop. (Yes, around here it’s a pop. The thought of calling it a “soft drink” makes me cringe!)
Why was I here?
Had I stopped because I was thirsty?
Because I needed a pick me up after getting up with a toddler overnight and then running errands all day?
Or was it out of nothing more than habit?
Was this one dollar “treat” really even a treat anymore?
Get Uncomfortable With Frugal Living (And Get Happy)
Here’s the thing. I always try to keep a good budget and be careful about where our money goes.
But I have a definite weakness…
I can almost always justify a food purchase.
Food is a need, right?!
So when I’m out and about, (either out of habit or the false idea that it will help me feel awake) I grab that quick Dr. Pepper from a gas station or a drive thru.
Hey, it’s an innocent habit…right? It only cost a buck or two each stop.
And I hardly ever buy one more than once a day. Really, it only happens maybe 3 or 4 times per week (if I’m busy with errands).
Well, you already know the latte effect. (No sense in beating on that poor horse anymore!)
Obviously my small habit is adding up… to $6 per week/$24 or $30 per month/$312 per year.
(Ok, so I hadn’t done the math until this blog post and that number seems pretty striking for such a small habit!)
Are Small Treats Ruining Your Happiness?
Have you heard of hedonic adaptation?
It’s the idea that humans adjust pretty quickly to either positive or negative changes in their lives.
The level of happiness (or unhappiness) that you feel on a daily basis is how you’ll tend to feel no matter what your circumstances are.
So people with a mindset that they’d be super happy if only they could win the lottery!! are missing out on a lot of happiness now.
(Especially since it’s even if you did win the lottery, there’s a 1 in 3 chance you’ll lose it all anyway.)
But forget the lottery for a minute. How does this look in your regular life?
Well…how many small treats do you give yourself each day?
Wait a minute…are those things actually still treats for you, or have they become an expectation?
If you haven’t really savored the taste of that Dr. Pepper in a long time, then it’s no longer a treat. It’s just another thing happening in your noisy life.
Time To Get Uncomfortable
There is such a thing as being too comfortable.
In fact, it’s good to let yourself be uncomfortable sometimes. When you don’t let yourself experience discomfort, it’s hard to really enjoy life’s little luxuries.
How much easier would it be for you to save money if you stopped demanding that you treat yo’self day after day?
And more than that…how much sweeter would that big reward be if you went without it for a while?
At least long enough that you could savor the taste of it again.
I have decided to challenge myself to no longer stop for an expensive drink while I am out running errands or following appointments.
And I encourage you to choose a small way to challenge yourself out of your comfort zone.
How are you wasting money on things that just aren’t fun anymore? Is it a magazine subscription that you never read anymore?
Do you tend to hit the vending machines every day? Maybe you have a problem with pop or drinks like I do?
Choose your small area and challenge yourself to get out of that comfort zone!
Extreme Frugal Living Is More Than You Think
Sure, you can collect crazy extreme frugal living tips like “reuse toilet paper” and “eat nothing but bark for a week”.
(Don’t do those things.)
If you really want a happier life, use extreme frugal living tips in the best possible way.
Find ways to get comfortable living with less.
Realize that you’ll only appreciate things when you get them less frequently. That will make “treat yo’self” day something you can actually, genuinely enjoy.
If being too comfortable isn’t working anymore, make some changes starting now.
I was able to quit my drive thru habit and made some big changes in our life.
Our youngest son still asks to go to Dr. Pepper, though. It’s a good reminder not to fall back into bad habits, right??
Breaking that habit lead to some big life changes, most notably getting rid of a huge credit card bill!
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What habit do you have that isn’t as much fun as it used to be?