Over the last few years, I have focused more on saving for retirement. With my renewed focus, I have been living a frugal life by reducing my spending over the course of time. Some may say I’ve become a “cheapskate” in order to reach financial independence sooner and retire early from my Corporate America, however, I feel that I have really just optimized my spending by creating some frugal habits.
I do occasionally ponder how my spending habits impact my life. Am I being too frugal? Am I missing out on experiences that would bring me more happiness? Do I feel deprived of luxuries?
My Life, My Happiness
While I try to answer those questions, I reflect on my past… at the things I’ve bought, trips I’ve taken, and experiences I’ve had, and I realize how many different, fun things I’ve done in my life. To understand what makes you happy now and for the future, realizing where you’ve been can be very eye opening.
My favorite and most memorable experiences so far have been the numerous trips I’ve taken. My most memorable include a Caribbean cruise on my honeymoon, Buenes Aires, Argentina for work, and vacations to Bermuda, Hawaii, and Key West. I’ve also visited various US cities and experienced the culture everywhere I’ve traveled.
I was born and raised in the Seattle, Washington area and I have lived in Phoenix, Arizona for almost 20 years. I’ve debated leaving Arizona, but I really love it here. The weather is awesome and the cost of living is very reasonable, especially for retirees.
I’ve been to pro football, basketball, baseball, and hockey games. However I’ve realized, I don’t enjoy watching sports, nor the big crowds, and did it more for the social experience than the enjoyment of the game itself. Also, I’ve run a few half-marathons and other races. They were awesome experiences and training for them created my habit of running every day. However, after that last half marathon I did, I didn’t find it fun anymore; so now I just run 2-3 miles with my dog every day and love it.
Am I Missing Out?
Although there are also some things that I haven’t done in my life that people would say I’m missing out on, at this point, I don’t have a desire to do so. For example, I have no desire to have kids… except for dog kids. I also haven’t traveled to Europe, Asia, Africa or Australia, which are usually places people would love to go. I have no appetite to travel to any of those places right now. I may get wanderlust in the future, but for now I’m content being a homebody and traveling occasionally.
Living a Frugal Life
I’ve changed my lifestyle over the last couple of years to accommodate my frugalness. The frugal habits incorporated into my daily life are now routine, I rarely have to think about what I’m going to do and am rarely, if ever, bored… and you know what I’ve found? I love it. I love having a routine; it makes me happy. I am a planner and like to be organized by nature, so routines are perfect for me. Also, with my financial background, saving money makes me excited. I am one of those weirdos that really enjoys saving a buck here and there. And seeing my savings and investments grow? Priceless.
For example, a few of the foodie frugal habits I’ve adopted into my routine over time:
- bringing my lunch to work every day
- stock up my pantry when staples go on sale (canned goods, pasta, popcorn)
- limit eating out to only a couple of times a month
- use my crockpot and freezer; making meals in my crockpot and freezing them provides easy, quick meals when I’m rushed for time
Am I Happy?
While my lifestyle has definitely changed over the last couple of years, I am actually enjoying life a lot more. I track my expenses more closely and limit my spending, however it doesn’t feel like I’m sacrificing anything. I feel like my quality of life is better since I’m living a simpler life, focused on what I value most. It’s all about trade-offs and doing the things that are important to me. I’ve never been into extravagant things and I enjoy a lot of low-cost, simple activities like running, reading, writing and cooking, so making that choice is easy for me. It’s obviously not for everyone, but for me, I truly do enjoy living a frugal life.